Prisoners Right to Read Incorporated Into ALA’s Library Bill of Rights

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The Library Bill of Rights are statements of basic principles adopted by the ALA Council that govern the service of all libraries, ranging from the rights of youth to service to diversity in collection development. The Library Bill of Rights can be found in the Intellectual Freedom Manual, Eighth Edition, available online. Newly incorporated to the Bill is the Prisoners Right to Read (Adopted by the ALA Council, July 2010) underlining the following selected principles as guidelines to all library services provided to prisoners:

* Collection management should be governed by written policy, mutually agreed upon by librarians and correctional agency administrators, in accordance with the Library Bill of Rights, its Interpretations, and other
ALA intellectual freedom documents.

* Correctional libraries should have written procedures for addressing challenges to library materials, including a policy-based description of the disqualifying features, in accordance with “Challenged Materials” and other relevant intellectual freedom documents.

* Correctional librarians should select materials that reflect the demographic composition, information needs, interests, and diverse cultural values of the confined communities they serve.

* Age is not a reason for censorship. Incarcerated children and youth should have access to a wide range of fiction and nonfiction, as stated in “Free Access to Libraries for Minors.”

* Correctional librarians should make all reasonable efforts to provide sufficient materials to meet the information and recreational needs of prisoners who speak languages other than English.

* Equitable access to information should be provided for persons with disabilities as outlined in “Services to People with Disabilities.”

* Media or materials with non-traditional bindings should not be prohibited unless they present an actual compelling and imminent risk to safety and security.

* Material with sexual content should not be banned unless it violates state and federal law.

* Correctional libraries should provide access to computers and the Internet.

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