Today we are pleased to commemorate theÂ 75th anniversaryÂ of ALAâ€™s adoptionÂ of theÂ Library Bill of RightsÂ on June 19, 1939 at the ALA Annual Conference in San Francisco. The document â€“ which is the basis for the work of the ALA Office for Intellectual Freedom â€“ was created in the wake ofÂ several incidents of banningÂ The Grapes of WrathÂ by John Steinbeck in the late 1930s. It also was inspired by the rising tide of totalitarianism around the world.
The first iteration of Â the Library Bill of Rights wasÂ a statement by the head of the Des Moines, Iowa, Public Library,Â Forrest Spaulding. It wasÂ adopted as policy by that library on November 21, 1938. Much of the wording remained the same for ALAâ€™s version, although it was more universal.
Since its initial adoption, the Library Bill of Rights hasÂ been amended four times. Â There are alsoÂ over 20 official interpretationsÂ on issues ranging from Meeting Rooms to Labeling and Ratings Systems. Â Many of these interpretations have Q&As associated with them to assist library boards and administratorsÂ adapt the policies to their specific circumstances.
To honor the Library Bill of Rights, take some time to read itÂ and consider itsÂ meaning and relevance lo these many decades later.