First Amendment Limits on Library Collection Management
Law Library Journal, Vol. 102, No. 3, Summer 2010
52 Pages Posted: 8 Jun 2010 Last revised: 27 Jun 2010
First Amendment freedoms impose some limits on publicly funded libraries’ discretion to manage their collections, but identifying those limits is difficult. The First Amendment law of libraries is murky territory, defined by three Supreme Court decisions that failed to produce majority opinions and lower court opinions that have employed a variety of doctrinal approaches. Libraries nonetheless must make sense of these cases to create and implement collection development and Internet access policies and procedures. This article surveys and analyzes the First Amendment law of library collections and finds that libraries’ discretion is broad, but certain limitations apply. These can serve as a reminder to librarians of their ethical commitment to challenge censorship and provide access to all points of view.
Keywords: Libraries, Library Collections, First Amendment, Brown v. Louisiana, Board of Education v. Pico, United States v. American Library Association, Selective Subsidies, Librarian Ethics, Censorship, Internet filtering, Freedom of Speech
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