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Guidance on the management of controversial material in public libraries


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Presentation given at seminars organised by MLA and CILIP to promote understanding and use of the "Guidance on the management of controversial material in public libraries"

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Guidance on the management of controversial material in public libraries

  1. 1. Guidance on the management of controversial material in public libraries
  2. 2. Agenda for today <ul><li>Introduction to the MLA Guidelines </li></ul><ul><li>Coffee and tea break </li></ul><ul><li>Introduction to workshop activities </li></ul><ul><li>Scenario-based workshops </li></ul><ul><li>Feedback from workshops </li></ul><ul><li>Action planning </li></ul><ul><li>Summary and close </li></ul>
  3. 3. Background <ul><li>Prime Minister’s statement to Parliament, 14 th November 2007: </li></ul><ul><li>“ The Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport is </li></ul><ul><li>working with the Museums, Libraries and Archives </li></ul><ul><li>Council to agree a common approach </li></ul><ul><li>to deal with the inflammatory and extremist material that </li></ul><ul><li>some seek to distribute through public libraries, while </li></ul><ul><li>also of course protecting freedom of speech.” </li></ul>
  4. 4. Guidance has … <ul><li>Been agreed by </li></ul><ul><ul><li>MLA </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>CILIP </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>SCL </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>DCMS </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Home Office </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Been published on the MLA website </li></ul>
  5. 5. Library providers in a multi-cultural society <ul><li>Each individual in our global society has the right to a full range of library and information services. In addressing cultural and linguistic diversity, libraries should: </li></ul><ul><li>serve all members of the community without discrimination based on cultural and linguistic heritage </li></ul><ul><li>provide information in appropriate languages and scripts </li></ul><ul><li>give access to a broad range of materials and services reflecting all communities and needs </li></ul><ul><li>IFLA </li></ul>
  6. 6. First principles of the guidance <ul><li>Library authorities : </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Have a statutory duty to provide a “comprehensive and efficient” service </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Are accountable to local communities </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Should respond comprehensively and non-judgementally to need </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Are founded on democratic principles of free access </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Are required to operate within the law </li></ul></ul>
  7. 7. Format of guidance <ul><li>Guidance on management of controversial material </li></ul><ul><li>Outline of current legislation </li></ul><ul><li>Case studies illustrating best practice in dealing with controversial material </li></ul><ul><li>Examples of stock development policies </li></ul>
  8. 8. Guidance looks at: <ul><li>Collection Development Policies </li></ul><ul><li>Stock selection </li></ul><ul><li>Controversial subjects </li></ul><ul><li>Involving others </li></ul><ul><li>Access to library material </li></ul><ul><li>Presentation and promotion of stock </li></ul><ul><li>Donations </li></ul><ul><li>The Internet (in brief) </li></ul><ul><li>Legislation </li></ul><ul><li>Monitoring and review of guidance </li></ul>
  9. 9. Collection development policies <ul><li>Should be: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>up to date </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>publicly available </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>responsive to local demography and needs of communities </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>reflective of library’s role to promote information, ideas and the cultural experience </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Should recognise: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>personal and academic freedoms </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>the rights of individual citizens to access published material </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>the neutrality and responsibilities of the librarian </li></ul></ul>
  10. 10. Stock selection <ul><li>Should be: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>selected according to Collection Development Policy </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>chosen for its literary, cultural and recreational relevance or for its information and learning value </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>not determined by the personal views of library staff, suppliers or other partners </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>managed with reference to balance and demand </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Librarians should aim for a library stock that : </li></ul><ul><ul><li>reflects the demography of the area </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>supports the policy priorities agreed for the library service </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>provides a diversity of information, opinion and literature </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Staff need to be trained in and alert to professional ethics and established codes of conduct </li></ul>
  11. 11. Controversial subjects <ul><li>“In the interest of intellectual freedom, material should not be rejected solely because it is considered controversial. </li></ul><ul><li>A good library should encompass controversial issues and different perspectives in the interests of democracy and discovery.” </li></ul>
  12. 12. Involving others <ul><li>Benefits: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>insight in to community cultures </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>information about demand </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>access to language and cultural expertise </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>fulfilment of duty to involve </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Potential partners include: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>local residents and community groups </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>stock suppliers </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>regional, national or specialist consortia </li></ul></ul>
  13. 13. Access to library material <ul><li>All should be catalogued and information made available </li></ul><ul><li>Role of inter-lending facilities and library network: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>“liaison between library sectors is essential to promote a common understanding of stock policies and systems” </li></ul></ul><ul><li>British Library’s policy on lending and public access in line with this guidance </li></ul>
  14. 14. Presentation and promotion of stock <ul><li>Promotion can: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>raise awareness </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>encourage understanding, bring communities together and encourage debate </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>improve accessibility </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>increase library usage </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Should not: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>promote a particular belief </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>ignore wider sensitivities </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>knowingly incite a person to undertake an illegal activity </li></ul></ul>
  15. 15. Donations <ul><li>Acceptance of donations should be subject to the same principles, and decisions on their acceptance remain with the responsible staff </li></ul><ul><li>Collection Development Policy should be the benchmark for all decisions </li></ul><ul><li>Donors should be advised of the criteria </li></ul>
  16. 16. The internet: general principles <ul><li>Integral and essential to the purpose of libraries </li></ul><ul><li>Many of the same principles apply, HOWEVER the internet is global and essentially self-regulating </li></ul><ul><li>Library provider’s responsibility is to enable access: responsibility for the interpretation and use of information rests with the user </li></ul><ul><li>“ Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers.” </li></ul><ul><li>IFLA/UNESCO </li></ul>
  17. 17. Internet access <ul><li>Libraries should: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>provide internet access in accordance with principles of freedom of thought and expression </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>respect the privacy of users </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>enable users to make the most of the internet through assistance and training </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>provide an Acceptable Internet Use Policy </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>provide a published policy on use by children and young people </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>be pro-active in drawing users’ attention to these policies and educating them about acceptable internet use </li></ul></ul>
  18. 18. Relevant legislation <ul><li>Summarises the key relevant legislation </li></ul><ul><li>Not a substitute for tailored legal advice </li></ul><ul><li>Intended to help identify key areas of risk </li></ul><ul><li>Looks at: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Public Libraries and Museums Act 1964 </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Terrorism Acts 2000 & 2006 </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Race relations and “religious hatred” legislation </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Human Rights Act 1998 </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Local Government and Public Involvement in Health Act 2007 </li></ul></ul>
  19. 19. Appendices <ul><li>Stock Selection & Collection Development Policies: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Examples of good practice </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Case studies: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Selection and management of materials </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Handling complaints </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Stock promotion </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Donated materials </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Stocking of religious texts </li></ul></ul>
  20. 20. <ul><li>Any questions? </li></ul>
  21. 21. Over to you <ul><li>Workshops: </li></ul><ul><li>Scenarios based on real-life situations </li></ul><ul><li>Use as basis for examining your own authorities’ stock policies </li></ul><ul><li>Focus in particular on where changes and improvements might be made to those policies </li></ul>
  22. 22. <ul><li>Review and update </li></ul><ul><li>Share and discuss </li></ul><ul><li>Understand and manage risks proactively </li></ul><ul><li>Some final thoughts </li></ul>