Intellectual Freedom in Libraries

The Seattle Public Library is committed to facilitating access to constitutionally-protected information, without censorship or scrutiny. In a democratic society, free and open access to information gives people the resources to participate in the political process and strive towards self-improvement. By collecting, organizing, and disseminating human expression in all its recorded formats, libraries are our society's most visible commitment to free speech, self-education and self-government. The Library board of trustees has adopted the American Library Association's (ALA) position on intellectual freedom, as stated in the ALA's Library Bill of Rights.

Policy Statement
In accordance with the ALA's Library Bill of Rights, the Library affirms that all libraries are forums for information and ideas, and that the following basic policies should guide its services to patrons and the community. 

I. Books and other library resources should be provided for the interest, information, and enlightenment of all people of the community the library serves. Materials should not be excluded because of the origin, background, or views of those contributing to their creation.

II. Libraries should provide materials and information presenting all points of view on current and historical issues. Materials should not be proscribed or removed because of partisan or doctrinal disapproval.

III. Libraries should challenge censorship in the fulfillment of their responsibility to provide information and enlightenment.

IV. Libraries should cooperate with all persons and groups concerned with resisting abridgment of free expression and free access to ideas.

V. A person's right to use a library should not be denied or abridged because of origin, age, background, or views.

VI. Libraries which make exhibit spaces and meeting rooms available to the public they serve should make such facilities available on an equitable basis, regardless of the beliefs or affiliations of individuals or groups requesting their use.

This policy guides the Library in every aspect of the programming and services it provides to its patrons.

Related Laws, Policies and Procedures

  • Board Policy, Bulletin Board and Information Distribution Areas
  • Board Policy, Public Use of the Internet
  • Board Policy, Rules of Conduct
  • Board Policy, Selection and Withdrawal of Materials
  • Administrative Procedure, Security Camera Use.


Adopted: Adopted jointly with King County Library System December 9, 1974 and revised July 21, 1980.
Wording clarified and approved: October 28, 2015