Services of the Library

The Delafield Public Library provides materials and resources for information, entertainment, intellectual development, and enrichment of the people of the community.

The library should endeavor to:

  • Select, organize, and make available necessary books and materials
  • Provide guidance and assistance to patrons
  • Sponsor and implement programs, exhibits, displays, book lists, etc., which would appeal to children and adults
  • Cooperate with other community agencies and organizations
  • Secure information beyond its own resources when requested (using interlibrary loan and other resource sharing methods provided through the system and state)
  • Lend to other libraries upon request
  • Develop and provide services to patrons with special needs
  • Maintain a balance in its services to various age groups
  • Cooperate with, but not perform the functions of, school or other institutional libraries
  • Provide service during hours which best meet the needs of the community, including evening and weekend hours
  • Regularly review library services being offered
  • Use media and other public relations mechanisms to promote the full range of available library services


Who may use the library

The library will serve all residents of the community and the public library system area. Service will not be denied or abridged because of religious, racial, social, economic, or political status; or because of mental, emotional, or physical condition; age; or sexual orientation.

The use of the library may be denied for due cause. Such cause may be failure to return library materials or to pay penalties, destruction of library property, disturbance of other patrons, or any other illegal, disruptive, or objectionable conduct on library premises.

Patron responsibilities and conduct

It is a patron’s responsibility to maintain necessary and proper standards of behavior in order to protect his/her individual rights and the rights and privileges of other patrons. If a patron creates a public nuisance, that patron may be restricted from the Library and from the use of the library facilities. Those who are unwilling to leave or do not leave within a reasonable amount of time, after being instructed to do so by the staff, will be subject to the law.

Young children

The Delafield Public Library encourages visits by young children and it is our desire to make this important visit both memorable and enjoyable for the child. Library staff is not expected to assume responsibility for the care of unsupervised children in the library.

To protect children using the library and to promote appropriate behavior, the Delafield Public Library Board of Trustees has established the following policy.

  1. Children age five and under must be accompanied by an adult or responsible teenager at all times and in all areas of the building including the Children’s Area and the restrooms. Parents of preschool children attending story time must remain in the building during the program.
  2. Children ages six through 9 may be left unattended in a library-sponsored program or in the Children’s Area for a short time, if an adult or responsible and attentive teenager who accompanied them to the library is in the building and readily available.
  3. Children age ten and over are welcome with or without a parent at all times provided they practice appropriate behavior regarding language, respect for others and respect for library equipment and property. When children behave inappropriately the following procedures will take place:
    • The first time, a verbal warning, including the consequence for continued inappropriate behavior, will be given to the child and his or her parent, if in the building, by the staff.
    • The second time, children will be asked to leave for the remainder of the day. If appropriate, the child will be welcome to return and start fresh on another visit.
    • In cases of repeated inappropriate behavior, the library will notify the parent of the child’s behavior and status.
  4. Any child regardless of age who requires continual staff intervention must be accompanied by a parent or caregiver at all times. 




The Board of Trustees of the Delafield Public Library has adopted the following

collection development policy to guide librarians and to inform the public of the principles upon which collection development and management decisions are based.

Collection development is the ongoing process of assessing the materials available for purchase or licensing and making decisions on the inclusion and retention.

The Mission Statement and values of the Delafield Public Library guide the selection of materials, as to the development of services and allocation of resources.

The Mission of the Delafield Public Library, a gateway to lifelong learning and community interaction, is to:

  • Provide a welcoming environment
  • Promote reading
  • Satisfy information needs
  • Create a more knowledgeable community
  • Enrich the quality of life through its staff, services and materials

The library values…

  • Providing access to resources for all members of our community
  • Providing information representing diverse ideas and viewpoints
  • Promoting and encouraging reading
  • Maintaining a welcoming environment that is conducive to learning
  • Recruiting and retaining high quality staff and volunteers dedicated to serving the community
  • Providing friendly, helpful, timely service
  • Encouraging parents and guardians to exercise their privileges and responsibilities regarding their own children’s use of the library and its resources
  • Promoting and encouraging lifelong learning
  • Providing programs and materials that make leisure time more productive and enjoyable
  • Providing the most accurate and up-to-date information

The Board of Trustees of the Delafield Public Library has adopted the American Library Association’s Library Bill of Rights and Freedom to Read statements, which are appended.


The Delafield Public Library acquires and makes available materials which inform, educate, entertain, and enrich persons as individuals and members of society. Since it is not possible for any library to acquire all materials, it is necessary for every library to employ a policy of selectivity in acquisitions. The Library provides, within its financial limitations, a general collection of reliable materials embracing broad areas of knowledge. Included are works of enduring value as well as timely materials on current issues.

The collection offers materials in a choice of format, treatment, and level of difficulty. “Materials” has the broadest possible meaning and includes but is not limited to print, audiovisual and electronic formats. The “collection” is defined as materials that are selected; those selected materials may be physically owned by the Library or may be accessed electronically. “Selection” refers to the decision that is made to add a given item to the collection, or to provide access to it through electronic sources. Not all materials and information found via the Internet are part of the collection; only those links provided on the Library’s own web pages are sites that have been selected.

Selection is based on community needs, both those expressed and those inferred from study of community demographics and evidence of areas of interest.

New formats are considered for the collection when, by industry report or national survey results and evidence from local requests, a significant portion of the community population has the necessary technology to make use of the format. Availability of items in the format, the cost per item, and the Library’s ability to acquire and handle the items will also be factors in determining when a new format will be collected. Similar considerations will influence the decision to delete a format from the Library’s collection.

Impartiality and judicious selection shall be exercised in all materials acquisition practices. Allocation of the materials budget and the number of items purchased for each area of the collection will be determined by indicators of use, the average cost per item, and objectives for development of the collection. The Library will be aware of the resources available in surrounding libraries and will develop its collection with this in mind. In general, scholarly, highly specialized, or archival materials are beyond the scope of the Library’s collections.

All library materials are available for use by all customers. Access to materials is ensured by the way they are organized, managed and displayed, and by the way staff interact with customers. The Library participates in local and national loan networks for the purpose of providing awareness of and access to materials not in the Delafield Public Library collection.

Responsibility for selection

Responsibility for the selection of library materials rests ultimately with the Library Director, who operates within the framework of policies determined by the Library Board of Trustees. Staff members who are qualified by reason of education, training, or experience share this responsibility and oversee the selection process and ensure that selectors’ choices reflect the Collection Development Policy of the Library. A listing of library staff members can be found on the library website The Department Heads track the materials budget to ensure a flow of new materials throughout the year, according to budget allocation. Tools used in selection include professional journals, trade journals, subject bibliographies, publishers’ promotional materials and reviews from reputable sources. Suggestions from staff members not directly involved with selection, and from customers, are encouraged and given serious consideration in the selection process.

Criteria for selection

Selection involves a general knowledge of each subject area and its important literature, a familiarity with the materials in the collection, an awareness of the bibliographies on the subject, and recognition of the needs of the community.

To build a well-balanced collection of merit and significance, materials in all forms must be measured by objective guidelines. Since the library does not promote particular beliefs or views, the collection contains various positions on important questions, including unpopular or unorthodox positions. The Library actively strives to ensure that materials representing many differing views and a broad diversity of human thought and creativity are represented in its collection. A balanced collection reflects a diversity of materials, not necessarily an equality of numbers.

Selection of materials will not be made on the basis of anticipated approval or disapproval, but solely on the basis of the principles stated in this policy. Selection does not constitute an endorsement by the Library of the contents of the work. Responsibility for choosing what an individual will read lies with the individual. Responsibility for the use of library materials by children and young adults rests with their parents and/or legal guardians. Selection decisions are not influenced by the possibility that material may be accessible to children.

The Library recognizes the purposes and resources of other libraries in Waukesha County and does not needlessly duplicate materials.

The Library does not acquire textbooks and/or other curricular-related materials unless such materials also serve the general public or unless the information in such materials is not otherwise available.

The Library acknowledges a particular interest in local history, and will add to its collection works produced by authors, printers or publishers with local connections that meet the purposes and objectives of this policy.

The Library seeks to select materials of varying complexity and format because it has a public encompassing a wide range of ages, educational backgrounds, interests, sensory preferences and reading skills.

The Library purchases and maintains audio-visual materials based on the same selection principles and guidelines as those for other materials.

Library materials are not marked or identified to show approval or disapproval of the contents and materials are not sequestered except for the purpose of protecting them from damage or theft.

All acquisitions, whether purchased or donated, are considered in terms of the following standards. An item need not meet all of the criteria in order to be acceptable. Several standards and combinations of standards may be used, as some materials may be judged primarily on artistic merit, while others are considered because of scholarship, value as human documents, or ability to satisfy the recreational and entertainment needs of the community.

General criteria (in no particular order)

  • Present and potential relevance to community needs
  • Suitability of physical form for library use
  • Suitability of subject and style for intended audience
  • Cost
  • Importance as a document of the times
  • Relation to the existing collection and to other material on the subject
  • Attention by critics and reviewers
  • Potential user appeal
  • Requests by the public

Content criteria (in no particular order)

  • Authority
  • Comprehensiveness and depth of treatment
  • Skill, competence, and purpose of author
  • Reputation and significance of the author
  • Objectivity
  • Consideration of the work as a whole
  • Clarity
  • Currency
  • Technical quality
  • Representation of diverse points of view
  • Representation of important movements, genres, or trends
  • Vitality and originality
  • Artistic presentation and/or experimentation
  • Sustained interest
  • Relevance and use of the information
  • Effective characterization
  • Authenticity of history or social setting

Special considerations for electronic information sources (in no particular order)

  • Ease of use of the product
  • Availability of the information to multiple simultaneous users
  • Equipment needed to provide access to the information
  • Technical support and training
  • Availability of the physical space needed to house and store the information or equipment
  • Availability in full text

Selection may also be limited by the following factors (in no particular order)

  • Physical limitations of the building
  • Price and format
  • Availability of low-demand materials in other collections

Selection of library materials will not be influenced by (in no particular order)

  • Possibility that they may come into the possession of children or young adults.
  • Liability of materials to theft or mutilation.

Donations and gifts

Donations of materials are gratefully accepted with the understanding that the Library may add them to the collection if they meet established standards for purchased materials, with emphasis on currency, physical condition, and need. All gifts added to the collection must be available for public use. Materials donated to the Library, whether added to the collection or not, become the property of the Library, and will not be returned to the donor. Materials not added to the collection will be given to the Friends of the Library Book Sale or disposed of by other means. The library cannot place a monetary value on gifts for tax purposes, but receipts are provided upon request.

Monetary gifts are always welcome and may be designated as memorials. Gifts of non-library items such as paintings, portraits or art objects will not be accepted.

Evaluation and withdrawal of materials

An attractive, up-to-date, currently useful collection is maintained through a continual discarding and replacing process. Materials may be withdrawn from the library collection after careful consideration of these factors:

  • Physical condition
  • Currency of information
  • Lack of use
  • Superseded by a new edition or better work on the same subject

Space needs and cost of replacement are also factors in decisions to withdraw materials.

Although every effort will be made to replace needed materials which are withdrawn, the Library takes the position that it is better to have no information on a subject than to have materials which are inaccurate or in poor physical condition.

Materials withdrawn from the collection may be given to the Friends of the Library Book Sale or disposed of by other means. Individual items that are being withdrawn will not be saved for specific individuals.

Requests for reconsideration

The choice of library materials by library users is an individual matter. While an individual may reject materials for himself/herself, he/she cannot restrict access to the materials by others. Recognizing that a diversity of materials may result in some requests for reconsideration of their selection, a Request for Reconsideration Procedure (appended) has been developed to assure that objections or complaints are handled in an attentive and consistent manner. Once an item has been approved for purchase, based on the selection policy of the Board of Trustees and the criteria for selection, it will not be automatically removed upon request.


Addendum A – Library Bill of Rights

Addendum B – Freedom to Read

Addendum C – Request for Reconsideration Procedure

Addendum D – Citizen’s Opinion Concerning Specific Library Materials




Delafield Public Library’s Rare Book Collection consists of state, county, and local history materials and materials considered being of irreplaceable value. 


The rare book collection is housed in a locked cabinet in the library.

Public use

  • Visitors of all ages are welcome to view materials in the Rare Book Collection
  • Patron must supply a valid I.D. to view materials from the Rare Book Collection (the patron I.D. will be held on the “sticky wicket shelf” and returned to the patron when rare book materials are returned to a staff member)
  • Rare book materials do not circulate
  • Delafield Library staff shall be responsible for all handling of rare book materials (Handling includes retrieving and shelving items in the rare book case.)
  • Only 1 rare book item shall be viewed at a time
  • Materials are fragile and irreplaceable in nature and should be handled accordingly
  • Materials should be viewed and handled inside Delafield Public Library
  • A Librarian must accompany patrons when removing and returning materials to their appropriate homes
  • Rare Book cabinets shall remain locked at all times, unless unlocked for removal of materials
  • Materials may be photocopied. The first 10 copies are free, $0.25 for each additional copy



(see May 2010 revisions-this is not current policy)


The library exists to provide access to materials to individuals in our community. The library does this by maintaining a database of registered borrowers and giving patrons in good standing access to the collections of the Delafield Public Library and reciprocal public libraries throughout the state of Wisconsin. In providing borrowing privileges, the library promotes the use of materials, ensures the rights of borrowers and protects the interests of the taxpayers.


  1. Circulation
    1. To obtain a library card, a person must:
      1. Be over 18 years old OR have the signed permission of a parent or legal guardian. [Students from St. John’s Northwestern Military Academy under the age of 18 must have St. John’s Library Director (or designee) sign their library card applications.] [A 14-17 year old may get a card without a parent/guardian present if the parent may be reached by telephone and gives verbal approval; the application must then be taken home, signed and returned before the card may be used again.]
      2. Complete an application and present two forms of identification, one of which must provide proof of current residence. A parent/legal guardian’s signature is sufficient for identification and is all that is needed for a minor to get a library card.
      3. Notify the library of any residential changes or if card is lost or stolen.
    2. Patrons need to present library card to check out materials from the library.
    3. Patrons are responsible for all materials checked out from the library until they are safely checked in at the Delafield Library. Patrons may return items to another Waukesha County library; however, patrons should be aware they may be responsible for any fees due to lost or late materials.
    4. Parents/legal guardians of children under 18 are ultimately responsible for their child’s selection, handling, and return of materials even when children visit the library unattended.
    5. Minors under 18 cannot check out R-rated DVDs.
  2. Loan Periods & Renewals
    1. Most items circulate for three weeks with the exception of videos, DVDs, new adult books and adult magazines, which circulate for one week. The length of circulation for interlibrary loan items varies per the owning library’s request.
    2. Temporary limits may be set for school assignment related materials or seasonal books.
    3. Patrons may request a longer loan period if necessary for vacations or other circumstances. These requests are subject to the librarian’s discretion.
    4. Items may be renewed twice, by using the patron’s online account or via the phone. Items on reserve for another patron may not be renewed.
    5. Items currently unavailable may be reserved for patrons. Reserves will be held at the library for one week, unless the patron makes other arrangements with the library staff.
  3. Fines & Fees
    1. Fines accrue on most items at a rate of $.10 per day, with the exception of videos, DVDs fines are $.50 a day and Interlibrary Loan materials which accrue a $1.00 per day fine.
    2. Accumulated fees of over $5.00 per patron will result in the suspension of circulation privileges. Accumulated fees of over $20.00 will result in the suspension of all library privileges, including computer use.
    3. Patrons with damaged items will be assessed fees on an individual case basis.
    4. Patrons with lost or irreparable items will be charged a replacement fee.

Approved by the Delafield Public Library Board of Trustees on May 12, 2009



Internet usage guidelines

  • Library cards must be current, fines/fees must be under $20.00 limit.
  • Internet users may log in to an Internet workstation using their library barcode. Guest passes are available at the Information Desk. Information about training sessions is also available.
  • A parent or guardian needs to complete a permission form for children under 18. Users agree to waive any and all claims against the City of Delafield, the Delafield Public Library, the Delafield Public Library Board or their officers, officials, agents and employees which may arise out of the use of one of the Internet work stations or the use of the provided Internet access.
  • No chat rooms, downloading software or music
  • Internet workstations may be used for one hour per day.
  • Only one person at a time may use an Internet workstation.
  • Printing of information should be accomplished within the one hour session.
  • The Library reserves the right to terminate an internet session at any time for inappropriate use.
  • Respect for the privacy of others by not misrepresenting oneself as another; by not seeking unauthorized access to any computer system; by not damaging or altering software or hardware or any network or database.
  • Respect for the intellectual property of others. Only authorized copies of copyrighted or licensed software will be made. Use of the workstation for Internet access only, not for other software. 


Violations may result in suspension or loss of privileges to use computer resources at the Library. Any illegal activity involving use of the Library’s computers, including the Internet will be subject to prosecution by the appropriate authorities.

Internet use policy

Given the constantly evolving nature of the Internet and the absence of any governing body, there may be occasion when information of a controversial nature is accessed. The inclusion of Internet resources in the Library falls under the Library’s Materials Selection Policy which states “the Library recognizes that tastes vary widely in a given community and an item which is pleasing to one patron may be unacceptable to another; however, no one person or group has the right to impose standards on the other members of the public. Decisions are not made on the basis of any anticipated approval or disapproval but solely on the merits of the work in relation to the building of the collection and to serving the interest of the public. Responsibility for children’s use of Library materials rests with their parents or legal guardians. The included use of an item in the Library’s collection in no way implies endorsement of its author, contents of views.”

Internet policy regarding cadets from St. John’s Northwestern Military Academy

Cadets under 18 years of age may use the internet at Delafield Public Library after a parent or guardian completes the required permission form. An instructor or administrator from SJNMA is also required to sign the form.

Cadets who are 18 years and older, and therefore legally adults, may obtain a library card and may use the Internet at Delafield Public Library, following standard public library guidelines for appropriate content and behavior.

Adopted by the Delafield Public Library Board of Trustees on October 10, 2006



Librarian in charge in the director’s absence

If an important decision needs to be made and the Director is not in the building, you may try to reach me at home or by calling me out of a meeting, etc. I would appreciate any attempt made to consult with a library board member. You may also consult with the City Administrator for advice.

Please utilize the “Librarian in Charge” Chart below to determine who has the responsibility for making the ultimate operating decisions during all the hours the library is open. The order in the chart reflects specialized training and experience in the field of librarianship, the PAR classification and compensation study, current job responsibilities and hours scheduled.

Librarian in Charge Chart

  1. Director
  2. Head of Circulation/Systems Administrator
  3. Head of Adult Services Librarian
  4. Head of Youth Services Librarian
  5. Head of Technical Services Librarian
  6. Librarian/Library Associate

Revised by the Delafield Public Library Board of Trustees on May 11, 2010 

Continuing education policy

The Delafield Public Library provides continuing education opportunities in order to continually update the knowledge and skills of librarians, staff, and trustees. In addition, these opportunities assist the library director with meeting recertification requirements. The library board has the responsibility to enable the director and staff to participate in these and other educational activities by promoting release time and compensation for expenses. 

Library closing due to severe weather

The library director shall decide to close the library on a case-by-case basis. Staff scheduled to work on a day when the library closes can use paid time off or choose not to be compensated for those hours.

Adopted by the Delafield Public Library Board of Trustees January 2008 

Bulletin board policy

The library maintains a bulletin board to provide organizations an opportunity to publicize community events of a civic, cultural, educational or recreational nature. In order to avoid the appearance of an endorsement, the library will not post notices of partisan political, religious or commercial events or activities.

All materials for display or distribution must be submitted for approval by designated library staff members. Any material found on the bulletin boards or in the brochure rack that has not been approved shall be removed and discarded. Dated material will be removed as soon as possible after the event. Undated material will be removed after a minimum of two weeks or when the space is needed for other materials.

Because space is limited, materials will be posted and/or distributed in this order of priority:

  1. Delafield Public Library and Waukesha County Federated Library System
  1. Announcements and publications.
  1. Friends of the Delafield Library announcements and publications.
  2. City of Delafield and Waukesha County government announcements and publications.
  3. State of Wisconsin and federal government announcements and publications.
  4. Civic, recreational, cultural, and educational announcements and publications from not-for-profit organizations. If space is limited, priority will be given to events and organizations in the immediate Delafield area. 

Public relations policy

Public relations goals of the Delafield Public Library are:

  • To promote a good understanding of the Library’s objectives and services among governing officials, civic leaders, and the general public;
  • To promote active participation in the varied services offered by the library to people of all ages.

The Board recognizes that public relations involves every person who has connection with the Library. The Board urges its own members and every staff member to realize that he or she represents the library in every public contact. Good service supports good public relations.

The director will be expected to make presentations and to participate in community activities to promote library services. A reasonable amount of library time will be allowed for preparation and speaking. Materials to be used by press, radio, or television will be approved by the director.

The board will establish a publications budget to cover costs related to printing, publication, supplies, and miscellaneous needs related to the public relations effort.



The American Library Association affirms that all libraries are forums for information and ideas, and that the following basic policies should guide their services.

  1. Books and other library resources should be provided for the interest, information, and enlightenment of all people of the community the library serves. Materials should not be excluded because of the origin, background, or views of those contributing to their creation.
  2. Libraries should provide materials and information presenting all points of view on current and historical issues. Materials should not be proscribed or removed because of partisan or doctrinal disapproval.
  3. Libraries should challenge censorship in the fulfillment of their responsibility to provide information and enlightenment.
  4. Libraries should cooperate with all persons and groups concerned with resisting abridgment of free expression and free access to ideas.
  5. A person’s right to use a library should not be denied or abridged because of origin, age, background, or views.
  6. Libraries which make exhibit spaces and meeting rooms available to the public they serve should make such facilities available on an equitable basis, regardless of the beliefs or affiliations of individuals or groups requesting their use.

Adopted June 18, 1948.

Amended February 2, 1961, and January 23, 1980,

inclusion of “age” reaffirmed January 23, 1996, by the ALA Council.



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 avoid the subversion of politics and the corruption of morals. We, as citizens 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 citizen, by exercising critical judgment, will accept the good and reject the bad. The censors, public and private, assume that they should determine what is good and what is bad for their fellow citizens.

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 need the help of censors to assist them in this task. 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.

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 or unpopular with 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 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 with any expression the prejudgment of a label characterizing it 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 the citizen. 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. 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.
  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 citizens 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 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; revised January 28, 1972, January 16, 1991, July 12, 2000, by the ALA Council and the AAP Freedom to Read Committee.

A Joint Statement by: American Library Association and Association of American Publishers

Subsequently Endorsed by:

  • American Association of University Professors
  • American Booksellers Foundation for Free Expression
  • American Society of Journalists and Authors
  • American Society of Newspaper Editors
  • Anti-Defamation League of B’nai B’rith
  • Association of American University Presses
  • Center for Democracy & Technology
  • The Children’s Book Council
  • The Electronic Frontier Foundation
  • Feminists for Free Expression
  • Freedom to Read Foundation
  • International Reading Association
  • The Media Institute
  • National Coalition Against Censorship
  • National PTA
  • Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays
  • People for the American Way
  • Student Press Law Center
  • The Thomas Jefferson Center for the Protection of Free Expression




  1. Any individual expressing an objection to or concern about library materials should receive respectful attention from the staff member approached. This staff member should use his or her own best judgment in attempting to answer the concerns or clarify the situation. If the individual is not satisfied with the explanation received, the staff member should offer the options of speaking with a supervisor or filling out a “Citizen’s Opinion Concerning Specific Library Materials” form. The following procedure will be followed if a form is given out in response to a complaint:

1) A “Citizen’s Opinion” form must be completed and signed for the request to be considered. The form may be returned to any staff member, who will forward it to the library director. The director may respond in writing to the individual, advising him/her that there will be reconsideration of the item and enclosing a copy of the statement on principles and guidelines used in materials selection from the Collection Development Policy of the Delafield Public Library. Once signed, these documents and the subsequent procedure is all public record and could be subject to open records requests.

2) The director will appoint an ad hoc reconsideration committee of at least three staff members, one of who will be designated committee chair. The director may be a committee member. One of the committee members will be the selector for the subject area or format of the materials under reconsideration. A committee member will be assigned to locate reviews and other appropriate materials to be used by the committee in its evaluation. Copies will be sent to each committee member.

3) The committee members will put their comments in writing to the committee chair prior to the meeting to discuss the title.

4) The committee chair will convene a meeting of the reconsideration committee, compile the comments, and forward the comments and reviews to the director along with a recommendation.

5) The director will then make a decision regarding the disposition of the material. The director will communicate this decision, along with the reasons for it, in writing to the individual who initiated the request.

6) The above steps will be carried out in a timely manner. During the review process, the material in question will remain available for circulation.

  1. If the individual desires further action, he/she may appeal in writing to the Library Board of Trustees, requesting a hearing before the board. If a hearing is granted, the individual will be notified of when he/she may appear before the Board. The Board of Trustees reserves the right to limit the length of presentation and number of speakers at the hearing. The Board will determine whether the request for reconsideration has been handled in accordance with stated procedures of the Delafield Public Library. On the basis of this determination, the Board may vote to uphold or override the decision of the director.

This hearing by its nature is public and must be noticed under Wisconsin Statute §19.84. It must be noticed to any member of the news media who has requested such notice and to the official newspaper. The notice must set forth the time, date, place and subject matter of the meeting, including that intended for consideration at any contemplated closed session. The notice must be given at least 24 hours in advance. The Attorney General has also advised posting notices in at least three different locations within the jurisdiction.

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