In 1940, ALA created the Intellectual Freedom Committee to help protect and promote the Library Bill of Rights, which is essential to libraries (Lorenzen. 2009). The Library Bill of Rights helps libraries create their own information policy and it helps support libraries when they are under scrutiny by patrons or others in the community. This is especially important when libraries are in the negative limelight.
Libraries can be seen as negative when someone disagrees with the Internet filtering policy that is not in use or may be filtering too little or not well enough. They can also be seen as negative when a community member believes that a book at the library is harmful and should not be present in the library.
By giving libraries the Library Bill of Rights, ALA sets up policy for individual libraries and creates a support mechanism for when libraries do come under attack. For example, section 2 of the Bill of Rights says to “reject censoring based on doctrinal disapproval of content” and to also “select materials with wide array of viewpoints”. ALA believes that by selecting materials with a wide variety of viewpoints, the knowledge seeker/ reader becomes a well rounded person and will be able to make decisions based on the knowledge gathered from these many viewpoints.
In sections 3 and 4, the Bill of Rights says to “reject censorship” and to “cooperate with others to fight abridgement of free speech” ( Lorenzen. 2009). The Intellectual Freedom Manual, which was created by the Intellectual Freedom Committee, says “We trust Americans to recognize propaganda, and to reject it. We do not believe they need the help of censors to assist them in this task. We do not believe they are prepared to sacrifice their heritage of a free press in order to be "protected" against what others think may be bad for them. We believe they still favor free enterprise in ideas and expression.” (ALA. 1989)
However, in a world where parents want to protect their children from the sights and sounds of a violent world, libraries seem to come under attack more and more. It is a parent’s right to protect their children and raise them as they see fit. It is also a parent’s right to monitor what their child watches on TV, sites they visit on the Internet and what they read. ALA encourages parents to interact with their children by setting ruling and not only teaching their children but themselves by selecting books with their children and showing them how to safely access the Internet and surf websites.
“We believe rather that what people read is deeply important; that ideas can be dangerous but that the suppression of ideas is fatal to a democratic society. Freedom itself is a dangerous way of life, but it is ours.”(ALA. 1989)
American Library Association (2009). FAQ About Libraries, Children, and the Internet. Retrieved from http://www.ala.org/ala/aboutala/offices/wo/woissues/techinttele/internetsafety/faq.cfm#alafilter
American Library Association (1989).Intellectual Freedom Manual, Third Edition,
Compiled by the Office for Intellectual Freedom of the American Library Association. Retrieved from http://www.cni.org/docs/infopols/ALA.html
Lorenzen, M. (2009). Information Policy as Library Policy: Intellectual Freedom.