At its January meeting, the King County Library System’s Board of Trustees approved a new policy that clearly states how KCLS will address and manage patron concerns about library books, DVDs, and audiobooks.
Our new Material Evaluation Policy reaffirms that intellectual freedom is one of KCLS’ core values. This has long been the case, but ongoing attempts to ban books at schools and libraries nationwide prompted us to revisit, clarify and formalize our policy regarding material evaluations. The result, we hope, will reassure those who believe in full access to materials, while providing a process that enables patrons to bring forward their concerns.
The board-approved policy states: “While we support the inclusion of a wide selection of materials to meet the diverse and varied interests of our communities, we recognize the individual’s right to express concerns about materials in our System.”
As a public library system, KCLS values intellectual freedom as the right of everyone to seek out information, ideas, and expressive content of any kind within the law. We support intellectual freedom through a commitment to facilitating and safeguarding equitable access, privacy and an extensive range of constitutionally protected opinions, perspectives and viewpoints.
Across the nation, we have seen a surge of book challenges. An ALA poll last year showed that 71% of Americans oppose efforts to remove books from school and public libraries. Most challenges occur at the school library level, including several in Washington State.
Last year, in alignment with our values, we decided to be proactive and formalize our Material Evaluation Policy. The policy offers a consistent process for patrons to address concerns about materials in KCLS’ collection. There are specific steps a patron can take, including discussing a concern with local library staff, filling out an evaluation form, and seeking a review by KCLS’ Material Evaluation Committee. This committee will determine if the title meets KCLS’ selection philosophy and criteria, and will respond to the patron.
In other exciting news, KCLS has been named the No. 2 digital circulating individual public library system in the country–and No. 4 worldwide–by Overdrive, a digital reading platform used by KCLS. Our patrons checked out 7.96 million digital titles in 2022–the most digital checkouts in KCLS history. More information is available at kcls.overdrive.com.
We know digital readership is growing across the globe, and we’re inspired by our own patrons’ enthusiastic support for electronic readership. KCLS will continue to invest in its much-loved digital collection.
Your local library staff can help you find a favorite read–digital or print–as well as movies, audiobooks or many other materials and resources. Come visit and explore!