Library Bill of Rights - History

History

Originally written by Forrest Spaulding, director of the Des Moines Public Library, in 1938, the Library Bill of Rights was adopted by the American Library Association in 1939, and has been revised several times since. Its original adoption was introduced with the statement, "Today indications in many parts of the world point to growing intolerance, suppression of free speech, and censorship affecting the rights of minorities and individuals," a reference to the emergence of totalitarian states during that time. During the Cold War period, the Library Bill of Rights supported opponents of censorship of materials interpreted as communist propaganda. In 1948, the association adopted a major revision of the document, which strengthened it significantly to address the new wave of censorship attempts that marked the beginning of the Second Red Scare, and was subsequently attacked in newspapers as "leftist," a "red front," and a "Communist organization." A 1967 revision shortened the document and removed rhetorical flourishes, also removing the qualification "of sound factual authority," which it was felt could have been used to justify censorship; also, "age" (along with background, origin, and views) was added to the attributes that should not be a basis for denying access to information. The document was revised again in 1980.

In 1996, the American Library Association reaffirmed the inclusion of age as an attribute that should not be the basis for denying access to information. This occurred after the American Library Trustee Association (ALTA) brought a request for this to the ALA Council.

Read more about this topic:  Library Bill Of Rights

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