Information policies regarding children's services tend to be quite different than those regarding adults. Some of these differences are blatant and yet others occur almost subconsciously.
There are those in the library and information science field that closely adhere to and follow the ALA's
Library Bill of Rights , Article V,
"A person's right to use a library should not be denied or abridged because of origin, age, background, or views…"
However, they have opponents within their field who think it's necessary to differentiate between children and adults. They often site religious beliefs and family values as there reason for objecting to such free access to information. Some even believe we should be acting in loco parentis.
Nevertheless, those strictly loyal to the ALA's Library Bill of Rights site in their interpretation of it titled Access for Children and Young Adults to Nonprint Materials ,
"The 'right to use a library' includes free access to, and unrestricted use of all the services, materials, and facilities the library has to offer. Every restriction on access to, and use of, library resources, based solely on the chronological age, education level, literacy skills, or legal emancipation of users violates Article V."
It also states,
"Librarians, when dealing with minors, should apply the same standards to circulation of nonprint materials as are applied to books and other print material except when directly and specifically prohibited by law."
The ALA and it's supporters make it very clear that we are to not to act in loco parentis in the interpretation titled Access for Children and Young Adults to Nonprint Materials
"Parents – and only parents – have the right and responsibility to restrict access of their children – and only their children – to library resources."
The ALA also states in another interpretation of the Library Bill of Rights titled Free Access to Libraries for Minors,
"Children and young adults unquestionably possess First Amendment rights, including, the right to receive information through the library in print, nonprint, or digital format. Constitutionally protected speech cannot be suppressed solely to protect children or young adults from ideas or images a legislative body believes to be unsuitable for them." (Reference to Erznoznik v. City of Jacksonville, 422 U.S. 205 (1975)).
But even knowing and understanding this stance the ALA has taken on providing children's services, I wonder if I could sit idly by while a minor was able to access something that isn't what I consider age appropriate because of my professional obligations. I know that this is in direct violation of the Library Bill of Rights, but I'm a parent and I have a hard time turning off that switch. I'm always a parent and I have to be honest and say, I think I would probably, in some circumstances, almost forget about the Library Bill of Rights. I know these may not be my children, but I would feel responsible as a parent in general. Being a parent is now inherent for me, where the LBR has just become a part of my life.
This all probably sounds very unprofessional of me, but I wonder if any of you also deal with this issue? And even if you are not a parent, do you struggle with this? I wonder if my stance will change once the LBR has been fully integrated into my professional development. Maybe after finishing this program, I will feel differently.
American Library Association (2009). Access for Children and Young Adults to Nonprint Materials. Retrieved from http://www.ala.org/ala/aboutala/offices/oif/statementspols/statementsif/interpretations/accesschildren.cfm.
American Library Association (2009). Library Bill of Rights. Retrieved from http://www.ala.org/ala/aboutala/offices/oif/statementspols/statementsif/librarybillrights.cfm.
American Library Association (2009). Free Access to Libraries for Minors.
Retrieved from http://www.ala.org/ala/aboutala/offices/oif/statementspols/statementsif/interpretations/freeaccesslibraries.cfm.
Lorenzen, M. (2009). Information Policy as Library Policy: Intellectual Freedom.