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Challenge Support & Intellectual Freedom Resources

Across the United States, including Wisconsin, libraries and schools are experiencing an increase in challenges to materials.  When people have questions or concerns about items in the collection, it is important that libraries are ready to respond appropriately to ensure that the library’s mission, policies, and procedures are upheld and clearly communicated.

The resources listed below will help library staff prepare for and respond to materials challenges and requests for reconsideration. In addition, directors and managers are encouraged to review their local policies and procedures with staff to prepare for handling complaints as they arise.

Can’t find what you’re looking for here? Use this search box to search the IFLS Article Index.

Need help answering specific questions or finding additional resources?

Click on the green HelpDesk button and we’ll make sure the right IFLS staff gets that message right away. Can’t find the green button? Use this email: helpdesk@ifls.lib.wi.us.

There’s no wrong door! You can contact these IFLS staff for support on this topic:

Cecelia Cole, Resource Sharing and Collection Consultant cole@ifls.lib.wi.us

Leah Langby, Library Development and Youth Services Coordinator langby@ifls.lib.wi.us

Katelyn Noack, Public Services Consultant noack@ifls.lib.wi.us

John Thompson, Director thompson@ifls.lib.wi.us

Preparing for Materials Challenges

START HERE – Checklist: Preparing for Materials Challenges at Your Library (IFLS) 

This checklist, created by IFLS staff, will guide you through four steps to prepare for materials challenges at your library.

Diversity Resources (Cooperative Children’s Book Center)

This page provides links to CCBC diversity resources, and selected links to resources beyond the CCBC including information on diverse materials and services in libraries.

Selection & Reconsideration Policy Toolkit for Public, School, & Academic Libraries (American Library Association)

“If your library does not have a selection policy, the time to begin writing one is today. Every library needs an up-to-date selection policy with a reconsideration process; however, the time to write the policy or make changes is not during a formal challenge to a library resource.”

State Handbook Resources (Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction)

The following handbooks and recommended chapters are available by scrolling to the bottom of each page:

Administrative Essentials: A Handbook for Wisconsin Public Library Directors

  • AE 1: The Mission of the Public Library
  • AE 15: Policies and Procedures

Trustee Essentials: A Handbook for Wisconsin Public Library Trustees

  • TE 22: Freedom of Expression and Inquiry
  • TE 23: Dealing with Challenges to Library Materials or Policies

What IF…Forum (Cooperative Children’s Book Center)

“The What IF forum is a place to turn to ask questions before a challenge occurs, and to help think through what the principles of intellectual freedom look like in practice.”

Materials Challenges (RAILS Reaching Across Illinois Library System)

This page includes helpful articles, best practices, library examples, and more.

Responding to Materials Challenges

Intellectual Freedom Information Services (Cooperative Children’s Book Center)

“The CCBC confidentially assists Wisconsin librarians and teachers when they are facing potential or actual book challenges.” IFLS staff pick: best resource

Steps to Take When Materials are Challenged (Cooperative Children’s Book Center)

“Guidelines for maintaining clarity and control in a situation when materials are challenged.” IFLS staff pick: best resource

Action Toolkit: Unite Against Book Bans (American Library Association)

This toolkit includes a list of talking points, resources for contacting elected officials and media, creating petitions, networking, creating newsletters, social media graphics, FAQs, and bookmark printables.

Challenge Support (American Library Association)

“The ALA Office for Intellectual Freedom provides confidential support during censorship challenges to library materials, services, and programs.”

Book Banning Resources (We Need Diverse Books)

This page includes general resources for book challenge support, and specialized resources on diversity, intellectual freedom, and censorship for citizens, parents, educators, booksellers, authors, librarians, and students.

Intellectual Freedom Resources

Statements of Support

Association for Rural and Small Libraries (ARSL) Access to Information Statement

Wisconsin Educational Media & Technology Association (WEMTA) Resources Statement in Support of School Libraries and Librarians

Wisconsin Library Association (WLA) Statement on the Freedom to Read and Intellectual Freedom

WiLS  WiLS Supports Equity + Anti-Racism Work in Our Member Community