A Story for Everyone

A young girl at the library holding a stuffed panda and a picture book

Offering information from all viewpoints

At FVRLibraries, we know that each item in our collection, all of our programs, and even our online resources don't appeal to everyone. However, they all appeal to some of our patrons. We support offering information from all viewpoints as well as the freedom of individuals and families to make their own reading choices. We are honored to provide a diverse collection and set of services that offer A Story for Everyone.

What is censorship?

Censorship is the suppression of ideas and information that some individuals, groups, or government officials find objectionable or dangerous. Would-be censors try to use the power of the state to impose their view of what is truthful and appropriate, or offensive and objectionable, on everyone else. Censors pressure public institutions, like libraries, to suppress and remove information they judge inappropriate or dangerous from public access, so that no one else has the chance to read or view the material and make up their own minds about it. The censor wants to prejudge materials for everyone. It is no more complicated than someone saying, “Don’t let anyone read this book, or buy that magazine, or view that film, because I object to it!” – American Library Association

How censorship harms the community

Now we've defined censorship. But, did you know it harms everyone? Here are just some of the important ways limiting access to books, information, and ideas negatively impacts the whole community:

  • Students can't access everything they need to learn and thoroughly complete assignments.
  • Parents are denied the opportunity to use books for teachable moments about complex issues with their children and to make them comfortable meeting people who may be different from them.
  • Some readers may not see themselves reflected in their library's collection.
  • We lose the ability to learn about and understand the world and the people around us, inhibiting mutual trust, friendship, and peace.
Book challenges in the United States

The American Library Association (ALA) documented 1,269 demands to censor library books and resources in 2022, the highest number of attempted book bans since ALA began compiling data about censorship in libraries more than 20 years ago. This nearly doubles the 729 book challenges reported in 2021. Of the record 2,571 unique titles targeted for censorship, the vast majority were written by or about members of the LGBTQ+ community and people of color. The 13 most challenged, and the reasons cited for the challenges, are listed on the ALA website. Find the top 100 banned books of each decade: 2010–2019; 2000–2009; 1990–1999.

Our collection at FVRLibraries

Our collection at FVRLibraries is selected and maintained by a team of librarians according to the Collection Policy written by our Board of Trustees. The term "collection" refers to the materials you see on the shelves in our libraries as well as the digital services we offer through our website and apps, including eBooks, learning tools, streaming services, and more.

The primary objectives of the FVRLibraries collection are:

  • To educate and inform
  • To promote the pleasure of reading
  • To develop the skills and abilities needed for personal success
  • To encourage and enhance personal, artistic, and intellectual growth

Our collection as a whole is intended to be a diverse source of information representing as many viewpoints as possible. Because our resources are not unlimited and additions to our collection must fit within our budget for library materials we also use other methods for meeting patron needs. including the use of electronic sources of information and borrowing from other libraries.

If you are looking for an item that FVRLibraries doesn't own, there are several ways you can ask for the item and we'll do our best to help. If the item is still being published, ask to have it added to our collection with the Request a Purchase form. For eBooks and eAudiobooks, use the Notify Me button in the Libby app. For other items not available in our catalog, magazines, and newspapers, try Interlibrary Loan and we'll attempt to borrow from another library system and send it to your local library for pickup.

Tools for family choices 

Parents and guardians are encouraged to make, and are responsible for, the reading choices of their minor children, but with so many books to choose from, it can sometimes be overwhelming to find books that are right for you and your family.

Your child may read at a level higher or lower than their age and you’re looking for reads that challenge their reading skills, but also match your preferences and their needs. This guide is here to help! With these tips and tricks, they’ll be enjoying their next read in no time. Whether you are browsing or trying to find out more about a specific title, these tools will give you a peek into books before you read them. And, of course, we are here to help you with your reading choices, at the library or however you contact us.

Library Bill of Rights

You likely know about the Bill of Rights, the first 10 amendments to the United States Constitution. But, you might not know about the Library Bill of Rights. First drafted in 1938, the bill was designed to speak out against “growing intolerance, suppression of free speech, and censorship affecting the rights of minorities and individuals.” One year later, the revised document was adopted by the American Library Association. It has since evolved to include topics such as book banning, race and gender discrimination, and exhibit spaces. Based on the First Amendment, the Library Bill of Rights guides librarians in serving their communities and protecting the rights of all patrons.

The freedom to read and democracy

Seventy years ago, a group from the American Library Association and the Association of American Publishers jointly crafted the Freedom to Read Statement in response to attacks on free expression. They reconvened on June 25, 2023, the 70th anniversary of writing the statement, to recommit to its principles. The statement begins with: The freedom to read is essential to our democracy. It is continuously under attack.

How does democracy depend on the freedom to read? Democracy relies on the ability of people to self-govern. To do so requires citizens to be well-informed. Citizens have the right to seek and receive information from all viewpoints without restriction. Libraries provide free access to information and ideas allowing all sides of a question, cause, or movement to be explored. Armed with full information, we can make a truly informed decision as participants in our democracy.

A fundamental belief of democracy and libraries is that people are capable of making information choices for themselves and have the right to do so, without others restricting those choices for them.

Something to offend and support all

“A truly great library contains something in it to offend everyone.” It sounds like this is meant to be humorous, but it actually has a lot of seriousness to it. It speaks to the diversity of readers in America and the wide range of materials in U.S. libraries. But, books and other materials are being removed from libraries around the nation daily because they offend a person or a group of people. If we remove everything that offends someone, what will be left in the library? Will your favorite book, or the one you wanted to share with your child, still be on the shelf? Will there be anything left?

Columbia County, Washington is facing a possible closure of their only library because disagreements over a few books prompted a citizen to file a petition to dissolve the library. Voters will decide the library’s fate in November. This is one example of the possible results of censorship. Rather than have a library with books that offend some readers, they may have no library at all. When a library has something that offends everyone, it also has something that delights, supports, and represents everyone, too.