An examination of the controversy at the West Bend Community Memorial Library over homosexual materials in the young adult collection, and an informal survey of the collection development plans, challenge procedures, and challenge forms of more than sixty Wisconsin public libraries, raise questions about the challenge process itself. The survey shows widespread support of intellectual freedom principles but great variety in procedures to address patron concerns. Boards should consider policies that specify who may file a challenge, require an intermediate staff committee to document reviews and circulation statistics, and make a recommendation, set an expeditious timetable, and decide when or whether a public hearing is needed. A process that focuses on the offending item, not the offended patron, and asks whether the work meets the criteria of the library’s collection development process might enhance the process itself and the public’s understanding of why the library’s provision of diverse viewpoints benefits the entire community.


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pp. 759-770
Launched on MUSE
Open Access
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