We are glad children are here. We want the Towanda Public Library to be a welcoming, educational and safe place for every child.
Our library staff is here to serve. They perform many duties in order to help all of our patrons. As a result they can not monitor the whereabouts or behavior of our smallest patrons—children. Staff will not and can not assume the responsibility for individual care of a child when that child is in the library
Therefore, the parent/guardian/adult caregiver accompanying a child to the library and its premises is responsible for his/her child during the entire visit.
No public place, including the Towanda Public Library’s Main Library and Carriage House, can guarantee the safety of children. A child could be lured away by a stranger or become ill. A child could wander outside and become lost or injured. An emergency could result in the evacuation of the building. We are concerned with safety, and we feel this policy better assures the well being of everyone.
The Towanda Public Library emphasizes that for a child age 10 and under:
• May not leave a child (10 or under) unattended at any time.
• Is responsible for the child’s behavior and ensuring the child obey library rules and regulations.
• Must remain in the library during library-sponsored programs.
Still, the problem of an unattended child has occurred. Thus, the following actions will be taken in future.
To assist the unattended child who is 10 years old or younger: Towanda Public Library Staff
• Will attempt to locate the parent/guardian/adult caregiver in the library and on the premises.
• Will contact law enforcement officials for the child to be taken under their care regardless of time of day and will post notes to that effect at the circulation desk and on all exit doors if library is closed.
• Will not, under any circumstances, give the child a ride home, take the child outside the building, or offer the child a seat in his/her vehicle.
The Towanda Public Library emphasizes that for a child age 11 and older:
Each young patron
• Will be responsible for obeying library rules and regulations.
• Will have arranged with his/her parent/guardian/adult caregiver a responsible plan for leaving the library and its premises.
Towanda Public Library Staff
Will initiate immediate contact with parent/guardian/adult caregiver or law enforcement officials for assistance in the matter if the child 11 and older is unattended at the time of closing.
Finally, the procedures for dealing with unattended children may also apply to any child who:
• Is not picked up within 15 minutes after closing time.
• Becomes ill or frightened.
• Is vulnerable because of circumstance such as weather conditions, inadequate meal arrangements or long hours out of contact with the parent/guardian/adult caregiver.
• Becomes disruptive and does not respond to verbal warnings given by the library staff.
The procedures listed also apply to an instance where more than one child is involved in the situation. Actions by the Towanda Public Library Staff apply to children in both identified age groups should they be necessary.
A parent/guardian/adult caregiver who disregards Towanda Public Library’s Safe Child Policy will be reported to the appropriate social services agency and/or will lose all library privileges.
Freedom to Read
The Freedom to Read Statement
The freedom to read is essential to our democracy. It is continuously under attack. Private groups and public authorities in various parts of the country are working to remove or limit access to reading materials, to censor content in schools, to label “controversial” views, to distribute lists of “objectionable” books or authors, and to purge libraries. These actions apparently rise from a view that our national tradition of free expression is no longer valid; that censorship and suppression are needed to counter threats to safety or national security, as well as to avoid the subversion of politics and the corruption of morals. We, as individuals devoted to reading and as librarians and publishers responsible for disseminating ideas, wish to assert the public interest in the preservation of the freedom to read.
Most attempts at suppression rest on a denial of the fundamental premise of democracy: that the ordinary individual, by exercising critical judgment, will select the good and reject the bad. We trust Americans to recognize propaganda and misinformation, and to make their own decisions about what they read and believe. We do not believe they are prepared to sacrifice their heritage of a free press in order to be “protected” against what others think may be bad for them. We believe they still favor free enterprise in ideas and expression.
These efforts at suppression are related to a larger pattern of pressures being brought against education, the press, art and images, films, broadcast media, and the Internet. The problem is not only one of actual censorship. The shadow of fear cast by these pressures leads, we suspect, to an even larger voluntary curtailment of expression by those who seek to avoid controversy or unwelcome scrutiny by government officials.
Such pressure toward conformity is perhaps natural to a time of accelerated change. And yet suppression is never more dangerous than in such a time of social tension. Freedom has given the United States the elasticity to endure strain. Freedom keeps open the path of novel and creative solutions, and enables change to come by choice. Every silencing of a heresy, every enforcement of an orthodoxy, diminishes the toughness and resilience of our society and leaves it the less able to deal with controversy and difference.
Now as always in our history, reading is among our greatest freedoms. The freedom to read and write is almost the only means for making generally available ideas or manners of expression that can initially command only a small audience. The written word is the natural medium for the new idea and the untried voice from which come the original contributions to social growth. It is essential to the extended discussion that serious thought requires, and to the accumulation of knowledge and ideas into organized collections.
We believe that free communication is essential to the preservation of a free society and a creative culture. We believe that these pressures toward conformity present the danger of limiting the range and variety of inquiry and expression on which our democracy and our culture depend. We believe that every American community must jealously guard the freedom to publish and to circulate, in order to preserve its own freedom to read. We believe that publishers and librarians have a profound responsibility to give validity to that freedom to read by making it possible for the readers to choose freely from a variety of offerings.
The freedom to read is guaranteed by the Constitution. Those with faith in free people will stand firm on these constitutional guarantees of essential rights and will exercise the responsibilities that accompany these rights.
We therefore affirm these propositions:
1) It is in the public interest for publishers and librarians to make available the widest diversity of views and expressions, including those that are unorthodox, unpopular, or considered dangerous by the majority.
Creative thought is by definition new, and what is new is different. The bearer of every new thought is a rebel until that idea is refined and tested. Totalitarian systems attempt to maintain themselves in power by the ruthless suppression of any concept that challenges the established orthodoxy. The power of a democratic system to adapt to change is vastly strengthened by the freedom of its citizens to choose widely from among conflicting opinions offered freely to them. To stifle every nonconformist idea at birth would mark the end of the democratic process. Furthermore, only through the constant activity of weighing and selecting can the democratic mind attain the strength demanded by times like these. We need to know not only what we believe but why we believe it.
2) Publishers, librarians, and booksellers do not need to endorse every idea or presentation they make available. It would conflict with the public interest for them to establish their own political, moral, or aesthetic views as a standard for determining what should be published or circulated.
Publishers and librarians serve the educational process by helping to make available knowledge and ideas required for the growth of the mind and the increase of learning. They do not foster education by imposing as mentors the patterns of their own thought. The people should have the freedom to read and consider a broader range of ideas than those that may be held by any single librarian or publisher or government or church. It is wrong that what one can read should be confined to what another thinks proper.
3) It is contrary to the public interest for publishers or librarians to bar access to writings on the basis of the personal history or political affiliations of the author.
No art or literature can flourish if it is to be measured by the political views or private lives of its creators. No society of free people can flourish that draws up lists of writers to whom it will not listen, whatever they may have to say.
4) There is no place in our society for efforts to coerce the taste of others, to confine adults to the reading matter deemed suitable for adolescents, or to inhibit the efforts of writers to achieve artistic expression.
To some, much of modern expression is shocking. But is not much of life itself shocking? We cut off literature at the source if we prevent writers from dealing with the stuff of life. Parents and teachers have a responsibility to prepare the young to meet the diversity of experiences in life to which they will be exposed, as they have a responsibility to help them learn to think critically for themselves. These are affirmative responsibilities, not to be discharged simply by preventing them from reading works for which they are not yet prepared. In these matters values differ, and values cannot be legislated; nor can machinery be devised that will suit the demands of one group without limiting the freedom of others.
5) It is not in the public interest to force a reader to accept the prejudgment of a label characterizing any expression or its author as subversive or dangerous.
The ideal of labeling presupposes the existence of individuals or groups with wisdom to determine by authority what is good or bad for others. It presupposes that individuals must be directed in making up their minds about the ideas they examine. But Americans do not need others to do their thinking for them.
6) It is the responsibility of publishers and librarians, as guardians of the people’s freedom to read, to contest encroachments upon that freedom by individuals or groups seeking to impose their own standards or tastes upon the community at large; and by the government whenever it seeks to reduce or deny public access to public information.
It is inevitable in the give and take of the democratic process that the political, the moral, or the aesthetic concepts of an individual or group will occasionally collide with those of another individual or group. In a free society individuals are free to determine for themselves what they wish to read, and each group is free to determine what it will recommend to its freely associated members. But no group has the right to take the law into its own hands, and to impose its own concept of politics or morality upon other members of a democratic society. Freedom is no freedom if it is accorded only to the accepted and the inoffensive. Further, democratic societies are more safe, free, and creative when the free flow of public information is not restricted by governmental prerogative or self-censorship.
7) It is the responsibility of publishers and librarians to give full meaning to the freedom to read by providing books that enrich the quality and diversity of thought and expression. By the exercise of this affirmative responsibility, they can demonstrate that the answer to a “bad” book is a good one, the answer to a “bad” idea is a good one.
The freedom to read is of little consequence when the reader cannot obtain matter fit for that reader’s purpose. What is needed is not only the absence of restraint, but the positive provision of opportunity for the people to read the best that has been thought and said. Books are the major channel by which the intellectual inheritance is handed down, and the principal means of its testing and growth. The defense of the freedom to read requires of all publishers and librarians the utmost of their faculties, and deserves of all Americans the fullest of their support.
We state these propositions neither lightly nor as easy generalizations. We here stake out a lofty claim for the value of the written word. We do so because we believe that it is possessed of enormous variety and usefulness, worthy of cherishing and keeping free. We realize that the application of these propositions may mean the dissemination of ideas and manners of expression that are repugnant to many persons. We do not state these propositions in the comfortable belief that what people read is unimportant. We believe rather that what people read is deeply important; that ideas can be dangerous; but that the suppression of ideas is fatal to a democratic society. Freedom itself is a dangerous way of life, but it is ours.
This statement was originally issued in May of 1953 by the Westchester Conference of the American Library Association and the American Book Publishers Council, which in 1970 consolidated with the American Educational Publishers Institute to become the Association of American Publishers.
Adopted June 25, 1953, by the ALA Council and the AAP Freedom to Read Committee; amended January 28, 1972; January 16, 1991; July 12, 2000; June 30, 2004.
A Joint Statement by:
Subsequently endorsed by:
American Booksellers Foundation for Free Expression
The Association of American University Presses, Inc.
The Children’s Book Council
Freedom to Read Foundation
National Association of College Stores
National Coalition Against Censorship
National Council of Teachers of English
The Thomas Jefferson Center for the Protection of Free Expression
Collection Development Policy
Towanda Public Library is fully aware of the pluralistic nature of its communities and endeavors to make available materials and services for all of its citizens. The Library has not only an obligation to provide the best materials and services for library users, but to search for materials and services that will assist those in the community who typically do not use the library.
General Principles and Selection Policy
Towanda Public Library recognizes that the population served has diverse needs and interests. It is in recognition of these factors that the library adopts the following principles to assure that the library serves all of its customers well.
• The First Amendment to the United States Constitution protects the freedom to read. It is essential to our democracy and will be upheld by all library staff in the selection of and access to library materials.
• The Library will uphold the freedom to read principles contained in the statements of the American Library Association; refer to the Library Bill of Rights and The Freedom to Read Statement.
• While it is this policy’s intent to encourage free access to materials, the library reserves the right to restrict the library user’s opportunity to remove select material from the library. These materials will be available only on site. Examples include, but are not limited to, reference, local history, and periodicals.
• Parents and legal guardians have sole responsibility for what children read, view or hear. The Library and its staff do not serve in loco parentis (in place of the parents). Only parents and guardians may restrict their own, and only their own, children’s access to library materials. Selection of library materials will not be inhibited by the possibility that materials may inadvertently come into a child’s possession.
• The Library will provide materials for use by all members of the community. Access to and use of material will not be denied or abridged because of origin, race, age, background, sex, or views. Likewise, none of these factors shall be cause to exclude from selection any material of authors, artists, publishers, or producers. However, library staff may consider other resources available to customer groups through other local sources and interlibrary loan when selecting materials.
• Selection of the material by the librarian does not imply agreement with or approval of the content, viewpoint, implication, or expression of the material.
• Librarians will judge materials on the basis of the content and style of the work as a whole, not by selected random passages or scenes.
• The public library is not a curriculum center and does not provide basic texts, curriculum resources, or materials in quantity for school work. However, the individual student or teacher will often find the supplementary resources of the library to be enriching and useful. The staff will take into consideration but will not develop the collection by the needs of the local school districts or colleges.
These principles form the basis of the library’s collection policy. Limiting factors include the large number of print and non print materials available, the large number of interests and topics possible, the reality of budget constraints, and shelving limitations. While recognizing these practical limitations, and remembering the basic precepts above, Library selection staff will strive to maintain diversity, quality and responsiveness to community interests.
• Quality of materials will be maintained by the application of professional discretion and standards established by the library profession and through the use of appropriate selection tools.
• Responsiveness to interest patterns will be maintained by careful consideration of user requests for purchase, patterns of use of existing materials, patterns of purchase of similar materials from retailers such as “best seller lists”, and any other source of information that can help librarians know of community interest patterns.