restricted access Reexamining the Origins of the Adoption of the ALA’s Library Bill of Rights

This paper chronicles and examines the development of the idea of intellectual freedom within the context of the American Libraries Association (ALA), specifically how events and statements related to censorship and free access to books and library services helped originate the Library Bill of Rights (LBR) and influenced its adoption by the ALA in 1939. These events are located broadly during the Great Depression, temporally framing the beginning and end points of the analysis between the response of the ALA to article 305 of the Smoot–Hawley Tariff in 1929 and the appointment of Forrest Spaulding to a special ALA committee on censorship by December 1939. This paper has a dual objective. It provides evidence that librarians and the ALA were concerned and alert to the importance of intellectual freedom in spite of the lack of articles about censorship indexed in Library Literature, and that the ALA’s adoption of the LBR was not in response to the pressures against The Grapes of Wrath as suggested in the ALA’s Intellectual Freedom Manual.