The Massachusetts Board of Library Commissioners will host a webinar for municipal leaders on June 15 to provide an overview of library operations, procedures and statutory requirements.

The one-hour webinar, “Book Challenges, Library Collection Policies, and Massachusetts State Law,” will be led by MBLC Library Advisory Specialist Maura Deedy. The session will begin at 10 a.m., and there will be time for questions. (Click here to register.)

The MBLC notes that Massachusetts is not immune from larger national trends when it comes to local citizens and organized community groups challenging content in public libraries. Public libraries in Massachusetts have received four times as many challenges in 2022 as they did in 2021. Many of these challenges have been delivered directly to town managers or select board members.

The MBLC provides training and individual consulting to municipalities on the development of their library materials selection policies. The board is working to ensure that all public libraries in Massachusetts are following state law by making certain they have an approved collection development policy.

When developing or revising a policy, libraries are guided by American Library Association standards to develop an objective selection criterion to meet the needs of the entire community. Removal of items from a public library due to social, religious or political pressure presents liability challenges to the library and municipality.

Libraries have a statutory and constitutional obligation to ensure access to public library materials, including library collections and library meeting rooms. Public libraries are governed by state law (M.G.L. Ch. 78), which outlines that the policy for the selection of and use of library materials and facilities must be in accordance with ALA standards.

Massachusetts libraries have been free and open to all since 1790, and Massachusetts continues to lead the nation in its investment in public libraries. The MBLC Construction Program, the state aid program, and MBLC advisory services support the commitment of local libraries to provide reliable information, quality service and diverse resources.