GUIDELINES FOR MATERIAL CHALLENGES
Guidelines for Managing Requests for Reconsideration or Challenges to Library Materials
The information provided below is meant to help directors and member library staff manage requests for reconsideration or challenges to library materials within their collection. If you have any questions regarding any of this information, please reach out to the system director at 608-868-2872.
Library staff should anticipate requests for reconsideration or challenges to materials by having a robust collection development policy that includes a thorough reconsideration process. A thoughtful reconsideration process will help defuse the situation and establish expectations for both patrons and staff. Some examples of collection development policies and reconsideration procedures are available on the DPI website: https://dpi.wi.gov/pld/boards-directors/policy-resources#Materials. Member libraries are also encouraged to review information from the ALA Selection & Reconsideration Policy Toolkit for Public, School, & Academic Libraries available here: http://www.ala.org/tools/challengesupport/selectionpolicytoolkit.
When a request for reconsideration or challenge is made LLS recommends the following course of action:
- Staff should immediately notify their direct supervisor or director of the request or challenge. Keep in mind that not every encounter is a challenge and could just be a matter of curiosity or concern. Library staff should be prepared for all encounters.
- Follow the steps outlined in your collection development policy to address the request. The material in question should remain available for checkout rather than removing it immediately or checking it out to a staff account.
- Notify the ALS Administrator as soon as possible. System staff can consult on next steps if necessary and put you in contact with the correct people at either the state or national level.
- Notify the ALA Office of Intellectual Freedom (OIF) and fill out the form available here to report the details: http://www.ala.org/tools/challengesupport/report. More guidance is available from the ALA website on Challenge Support.
- If the materials in question are written for children or YA audiences, contact the Cooperative Children’s Book Center (CCBC) at UW-Madison. The CCBC confidentially assists Wisconsin librarians and teachers when they are facing potential or actual materials challenges. Contact information and details are available at https://ccbc.education.wisc.edu/intellectual-freedom-2/intellectual-freedom.
The DPI also recommends the following resources to assist with challenges and requests for reconsideration.
- CCBC Resources
- Trustee Essential 22: Freedom of Expression and Inquiry
- Trustee Essential 23: Dealing with Challenges to Library Materials or Policies