PSLA Intellectual Freedom Task Group Website

If you’re facing a challenge, the PSLA IFTG Rapid Response Team is here to help. Click Here

This website also includes support, resources for facing intellectual freedom challenges, policy and procedure recommendations and proactive actions.

The Pennsylvania School Librarians Association (PSLA) are pleased to work together in supporting all library workers and libraries in Pennsylvania that face material and book challenges. Libraries provide access to and display a variety of materials representing a broad range of perspectives and experiences.  

PSLA believe that libraries in PA must: 

  1. Make available the widest possible range of viewpoints, opinions, and ideas, so that every person has the opportunity to freely read and consider information and ideas.

  2. Resist any effort to censor library materials, programs, or displays by endorsing policies that serve to safeguard the principles of intellectual freedom and the freedom to read. 

  3. Not exclude materials because of the origin, background, or views of those contributing to their creation.

  4. Not proscribe or remove materials because of partisan or doctrinal disapproval.

We stand opposed to censorship and any effort to coerce belief, suppress opinion, or punish those whose expression does not conform to what is deemed to be orthodox in history, politics, or belief. We are committed to collaboratively supporting libraries and library workers as they uphold the First Amendment to the US Constitution and the freedom to read and learn for all library users.

Some other things to consider if you are facing a challenge:

  1. Contact ALA’s Office of Intellectual Freedom

Once ALA knows of a challenge, they will be able to provide you with guidance and resources to help defend your students’ right to read. It is vital that you report a challenge of any type to ALA (this includes administrators removing books from the library before an official challenge is made). You may want to refer to ALA’s Library Bill of Rights. This is a great resource to give you direction and talking points. ALA offers a toolkit for you to reference and use as needed.

  1. Learn more about the challenge

Some questions to consider are: Did the challenge come from a community member or parent?;  Has the administrator or librarian reached out to explain collection development and opt out options (notes in library management system, technology blocks, etc.)?; If the challenge is from a community member, have they completed the appropriate form?; If the challenge has come from an administrator or other teacher, do they need to be informed/educated on library policies and procedures?; If not, do they want to meet to discuss concerns? 

If concerns aren’t met at either level after discussion with a librarian and (neutral) administrator, does a formal challenge need to take place?

  1. Locate your district’s policies/procedures.
    These policies and procedures are commonly called: Review of Instructional Materials policy, Instructional Material Selection Policy, Challenge Protocol, Resource Material. Some of them will be school board policy while others may just be library protocol and procedure.

If your district does not have policies, or similar ones, in place, find out if your school board is a member of PA School Board Association. PSBA offers form templates for ease in creating policies. Sample policies and forms are linked below. If you are creating or suggesting a new policy for your district, it will need to be approved before going into effect. Creation and updates to procedures do not generally need school board approval, but informing and working with administration ensures the execution of such procedures.

  1. Begin to look for reviews of the materials being challenged. If you are having trouble finding reviews, ALA’s Office of Intellectual Freedom will be able to help you.

  2. Contact the Office of Commonwealth Libraries. OCL will be able to put you in touch with other librarians who have been through this and provide local support as needed.

  3. Key points to remember:  

    1. Every student is entitled to the freedom to choose what to read

    2. Your job is to ensure freedom for every reader to see themselves in a book

    3. You are not alone. 

    4. Lost battles are not lost wars. 

Other resources for you to use as needed:

Reconsideration Forms:

ALA Sample reconsideration Committee Form

Sample Reconsideration Form

Sample Reconsideration Committee Administrative Regulations