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Intellectual Freedom Clearinghouse

Overview of the Oregon Intellectual Freedom Clearinghouse

The primary mission of the Oregon Intellectual Freedom Clearinghouse (OIFC) is to collect data on challenges to library materials in Oregon and to compile the data into annual reports. OIFC collects reports on formally challenged materials from all types of Oregon libraries (academic, public, school, and tribal). Oregon libraries are responsible for reporting challenges to materials at their library on a voluntary basis.  The accuracy of OIFC’s Annual Report and Title Index to Challenges is directly related to the percentage of libraries reporting. 
OIFC also provides information and resources to libraries dealing with challenges. Past challenge reports submitted to OIFC are the most valuable resource because they document how a library dealt with a challenge.    
For more information contact the coordinator of the Oregon Intellectual Freedom Clearinghouse, Katie Anderson, 503-378-2528. 

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Are you prepared to deal with a challenge?

Do you know the basics of libraries and intellectual freedom?
Do you have a written materials selection policy?
Do your policies include procedures for dealing with patron concerns and challenges to materials?

Are your policies current and on a regular review cycle?
Do staff know library policies, are they educated about policy changes, and are they trained to follow procedures outlined in the policies? 

Have you discussed potential areas of concern with your library board or trustees, staff, and library users?

Do you have reconsideration forms easily accessible for staff to give patrons who wish to challenge materials or services?

Are your policies available online so patrons can learn what your policies are regarding their intellectual freedom and right to privacy? 

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How do you deal with a patron making a challenge?

Coping with Challenges: ALA's Office of Intellectual Freedom

Here are a few general tips:

  • Listen, smile, be open and positive, and try to stay calm.
  • Avoid being overly apologetic, defensive, or giving a mini-lesson on intellectual freedom. 
  • Thank the patron for sharing their concern.
  • Provide information about your library’s selection policy.
  • Provide information about the Freedom to Read Statement, Library Bill of Rights, and any interpretations that relate to their particular concern.
  • Provide information about your library’s reconsideration procedures.
  • If the patron is not satisfied and wants to continue to pursue the challenge, provide them with a reconsideration form.
  • Inform your supervisor, manager, or director of the incident so the school/library can be prepared if they have to deal with any further actions of the concerned patron, the public, or media.

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What happens after a patron submits a reconsideration form?

Reconsideration policies and procedures vary, but in most cases:
  • The challenged material remains in the collection as usual until a final decision has been made.
  • The director or designated staff reviews the selection policy to determine if the material complies with the policy, and reads professional reviews of the material.
  • The director or designated staff decides whether to retain, reclassify, label, or remove the material based on what they learn during the review process.
  • The director or designated staff writes a letter to the concerned patron explaining the review process, informing them of the decision, and the appeals process.
  • If the patron appeals the decision of the director or designated staff, a committee is convened to reconsider the material.
  • Members of the committee read/view the material in full.  Then, review the selection policy to determine if the material complies with the policy and read professional reviews of the material.
  • The committee meets to discuss and vote whether to retain, reclassify, label, or remove the material.
  • The director or designated staff writes a letter to the concerned patron explaining the review process and informing them of the committee's decision.
  • The library director or designated staff complete and submit a report challenges form to the Oregon State Library and American Library Association.

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How do I deal with the media and community groups?

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Who can I talk to for more help?

Katie Anderson, 503-378-2528, Coordinator of the Oregon Intellectual Freedom Clearinghouse 
Intellectual Freedom Committee members change annually, but you should be able to find the names and email address of current members on the following Web pages:
You can email questions to the American Civil Liberties Union of Oregon, and you can submit a request for legal assistance.  Keep in mind, the ACLU of Oregon receives thousands of legal requests a year and is only able to take on a few cases due to limited resources. 
Here is a list of links to other groups you can contact for more information.

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Banned Books Week Planning Resources

"Celebrate the Freedom to Read in Oregon" is a collaborative project of the ACLU of Oregon, Intellectual Freedom Committees of the Oregon Library Association and the Oregon Association of School Libraries, and the Oregon Intellectual Freedom Clearinghouse. Banned Books Week is an opportunity to educate students and the public about book challenges, censorship, and the freedom to read. This project strives to create statewide recognition of Banned Books Week, and encourage all types of libraries, schools, and bookstores to celebrate Banned Books Week and educate their communities about intellectual freedom. 
To participate, libraries, schools, and bookstores may have a display, program or other activity to celebrate the freedom to read anytime during Banned Books Week or during the month of October.  Here are some resources to help you plan your Banned Books Week displays, programs, or activities:   

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Online Safety Education Resources

Online safety information and education is essential regardless of whether or not your library or school has filtering software.  Filtering software is not perfect, appropriate educational/informational sites get blocked and inappropriate sites get through.  Filtering does not protect user privacy nor prevent cyberbullying.  
Library media specialist Gregory Lum created an online resource with links to several online safety and cyberbullying websites that may provide helpful information and resources for library staff, library patrons, school staff, students, and parents.
Internet Safety & Cyberbullying (Jesuit High School, Portland OR)

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Report Challenges to the State Library

To report formal challenges to library material at your library complete the report challenge form (PDF or word) and mail it to:  and mail it to: 
Oregon State Library
c/o Oregon Intellectual Freedom Clearinghouse
250 Winter St. NE
Salem, OR 97301
OIFC Privacy Policy:  Names of people, organizations, libraries, and towns identified in challenge reports are not published.  Starting in 2007, the Title Index to Challenges will not publish the names of libraries where challenges occurred.  The Annual Report identifies the type of library (school, academic, or public) where the challenge occurred.  The Oregon State Library is a state agency and therefore subject to Public Records Laws as stated in Oregon Revised Statutes Chapter 192—Records; Public Reports and Meetings.
OIFC will make one copy of your challenge report; black out any information identifying your library, staff, and community to protect your privacy; and send it to ALA’s Office of Intellectual Freedom with OIFC’s Annual Report in December.

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Annual Reports on Challenges in Oregon

Starting in 2007, entries added to the Title Index to Challenges will not include library names.  However, past entries that include library names will not be removed from the Index.  The Title Index to Challenges is a record of all challenges to library material in Oregon that have been reported to OIFC since it was established in 1987. 
Title Index to Challenges to library material in Oregon from 1988 to June 30, 2015. (Excel or PDF
For more detail about materials challenged, please read the following annual reports. 

2015 Annual Report

2014 Annual Report

2013 Annual Report

2012 Annual Report

2011 Annual Report


2010 Annual Report 

2009 Annual Report 

2008 Annual Report                                                              

2007 Annual Report                                      

19th Annual Report (2006)                            

17th Annual Report (2004) 

16th Annual Report (2003)

15th Annual Report (2002)

14th Annual Report (2001)

13th Annual Report (2000)

12th Annual Report (1999)

11th Annual Report (1998)

10th Annual Report (1997)

9th   Annual Report (1996)

8th   Annual Report (1995)

7th   Annual Report (1994)

6th   Annual Report (1993)

5th   Annual Report (1992)

4th   Annual Report (1991)

3rd   Annual Report (1990)

2nd   Annual Report (1989)

1st   Annual Report (1988)
The 18th Annual Report was not written or published due to a staff vacancy in 2005.  Contact Katie Anderson, 503-378-2528, for more information.

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