Intellectual freedom is frequently seen as a core value of librarianship, especially by the American Library Association, which has issued extensive guidance to libraries about implementing intellectual freedom. Some scholars criticize these documents, arguing that they are unrealistic and do not offer meaningful support to libraries. While scholars question the value of ALA policies, it is unclear whether practicing librarians have similar concerns about the Library Bill of Rights (LBR) and related guidelines. This article describes a study of public libraries and their interpretation of the LBR in their daily practice. To investigate the role played by ALA documents, 15 public library directors across one state were interviewed. In general, the library directors did not directly cite or quote from ALA documents, yet their stances echoed ALA guidance. In addition, library directors frequently discussed the significance of community in their interpretations and implementations of intellectual freedom.

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Published in The Library Quarterly, v. 86, no. 3, p. 290-312.

© 2016 by The University of Chicago. All rights reserved.

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