Library Law: Intellectual Freedom and Libraries
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Library Law > Intellectual Freedom and Libraries

Intellectual Freedom and Libraries


  • American Library Association, compilation of First Amendment Cases lists and annotates key court decisions involving libraries and general cases cited frequently in library cases
  • Book removal
    • Board of Education v. Pico , 457 U.S. 853 (1982) This is the key book removal court case, cited by all subsequent cases. It is the only Supreme Court case on book removal decisions in a library. Although it is a plurality and difficult to understand, it has come to represent the proposition that school boards do not have unrestricted authority to remove library books. Schools may consider vulgarity and educational suitability, but not merely the unorthodox ideas represented. In dicta, the Court mentions that the public library had the challenged books on display. Public libraries are not limited to educational criteria when choosing collections. T
  • Information liability
    • Rice v. Paladin Enter., Inc. Is the publisher Hit Man: A Technical Manual for Independent Contractors guilty of aiding and abetting murder? Could a library be liable? 
    • Texas vs. Nolo March 13, 1998 Is Nolo Press guilty of the unauthorized practice of law?!
  • Internet Access in Public Libraries (in reverse chronological order)
    • American Library Association v. United States U.S. Supreme Court 2003 upholds the Children's Internet Protection Act (CIPA), requiring libraries that receive certain federal funds and discounts to filter the Internet for child pornography, obscenity and harmful matters  Legal briefs filed before decision issued
    • Kathleen R. v. City of Livermore (open access case) 3/6/2001 The mother of of a child who downloaded pornography at a public library sought to compel the library to install blocking software on children's computers within the library. The mother made state claims: waste of public funds, public nuisance and premises liability. She later amended her claim to state the library had a Constitutional duty to protect her son. The library won in trial court, and the mother appealed. The library won again in the California Court of Appeal.
    • Mainstream Loudoun v. Loudoun County Library (blocking software case) 4/1/99 - The library installed X-Stop filtering software on all adult and children's Internet computers to enact a policy to prevent Sexual Harassment. Residents of Loudoun County, Virginia, and website operators and authors whose web pages may have been blocked, sued the library, asking for removal of the blocking software. The judge found the software was not the least restrictive alternative and ordered its removal. The library lost in federal district court of the Eastern District of Virginia. The library decided not to appeal.
  • Meeting Rooms, Bulletin Boards etc. in Public Libraries
    • Pfeifer v. City of West Allis U.S. District Court E.D. Wisconsin 4/10/00 The Library cannot deny a creationist group the use of its meeting room.
    • Concerned Women for America, Inc. v. Lafayette County , 883 F.2d 32 (5th Cir. 1989) [cannot find a link on the Internet, but an important case] The Library cannot deny a religious women's group the use of the library auditorium.


Legal Memoranda to Freedom to Read Foundation from Jenner & Block

  • various such as Minors Right to Receive Information and Work Environment

Other legal analyses

Articles and Background

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