Definitions and Intellectual Freedom Terms

Here we have listed some definitions of common terms that you will find in talking, reading and researching issues of Intellectual Freedom.

Intellectual freedom: the right to think, read, write, speak or watch video about those things that you so desire, in public or otherwise.

Intellectual freedom challenge:any attempt to curtail the freedom to think, read, write, speak or watch video about any particular subject.

Ban:the removal of an item from a public collection as the direct result of an attempt to curtail the freedom to think, read, write, speak or watch video about a particular subject.

Challenge: an attempt to remove an item from a public collection, generally via a complaint about the item.

Banned book: a book or other item which has been the target of successful challenges; one which has been removed from public collections in some locations.

Challenged book: a book or other item which is currently the target of challenges; one which is currently going through the review process by the appropriate group of administrators and librarians at the facility housing the challenged material.
a book or other item which has been unsuccessfully challenged; one which has been deemed appropriate for a public collection and no change made to where or how the item is housed or displayed.

Banning attempt: an individual attempt to have a specific book or item removed. items are sometimes challenged for multiple reasons or for different reasons at different times or locations.

Successful challenge/ban:a challenge which has resulted in the item’s removal from the public collection at the location where the challenge originated.

Resolved challenge: a challenge which has been reviewed by the appropriate group of administrators and librarians, and been resolved without removal of the item from the public collection.

Complaint: a written or verbal communication regarding the content of an item, generally suggesting that it is inappropriate (for whatever reason) for a public collection.

Request for reconsideration form: the form supplied by most libraries for complaints or challenges about library materials. This form generally is the starting point for a formal challenge or banning attempt.

Review process: the specific process that the challenged item must go through in response to the challenge. This often involves a thorough review of the item (reading the book, watching the movie or listening to the music) by a group of administrators and employees with a very specific makeup, chosen for their level of responsibility to the library and to the community, their level of expertise with the particular type of material, and their familiarity with the general standards of the community in which the challenge was issued. This group will often meet several times in order to come to a consensus about the recommendation they give concerning the disposition of the item. The governing body then makes the final decision on the disposition of the item being challenged, after taking into account the recommendation of the review committee, and discussing the challenge themselves.