IDAHO LIBRARY ASSOCIATION

Library Myth vs. Reality

IDAHO LIBRARY ASSOCIATION (ILA) and AMERICAN LIBRARY ASSOCIATION (ALA)

Myth
Idaho libraries are all part of the ILA and ALA.

Reality
Both the ILA and the ALA are nonprofit associations serving libraries and library staff. Individuals pay membership dues to join these associations but membership is not a requirement for anyone working in libraries. Libraries as a whole do not generally participate as members of these associations.

Myth
The ALA tells Idaho libraries what to do.


Reality
The mission of the ALA is “to provide leadership for the development, promotion and improvement of library and information services and the profession of librarianship in order to enhance learning and ensure access to information to all.” It does not prescribe how libraries operate and serve their communities.

The ALA offers guidelines for best practices in librarianship based on nearly 150 years of research and practice in the field. Best practices include statements of professional ethics, intellectual freedom, and customer service.

Find more information at About ALA.

Myth
Idaho libraries always follow ALA guidelines.

Reality
Idaho libraries may or may not follow guidelines provided by the ALA, based on how they can best serve their communities.

Myth 
The Idaho Library Association (ILA) and the Idaho Commission for Libraries (ICfL) are the same thing.


Reality
The ILA is a professional association for people who work in or support libraries. The mission of the ILA is to advance Idaho’s shared library interests through collaboration, professional development, and advocacy. Individuals pay dues to join ILA as members in order to network within the profession, access ongoing training, and promote the work that libraries do in their communities.

The ICfL is an agency of Idaho’s state government and is governed by the Board of Library Commissioners, which is appointed by the governor. The State Librarian, appointed by the Board of Commissioners, is the ICfL’s chief executive officer and is charged with implementing the Board’s policies and rules and with managing operations of the agency. The mission of the ICfL is to assist Idaho libraries to build the capacity to better serve their community. See this overview of ICfL programs and services for more information.

Learn more at ILA or the ICfL websites.

FUNDING FOR PUBLIC LIBRARIES

Myth 
Public library funding is the state’s or federal government’s responsibility.

Reality
While state and federal money does help support local libraries, these dollars can be inconsistent and prone to cuts—and for most libraries, a very small portion of the overall budget. Local dollars make up the majority of budgets for almost all American public libraries.

Myth 
The busier the library, the more money it receives.


Reality
Library funding is not based on use or demand. Most libraries work on annual budgets based mainly on city or county allocations, or property tax allocations.

Myth 
Every public library in Idaho is funded in the same way.

Reality
Even though all public libraries are funded by some combination of local, state, and federal dollars, the mix is unique. To learn more about how your library is funded, contact your local library.

Myth 
Public libraries receive funding from the American Library Association (ALA).

Reality
The ALA does not provide funding to libraries. See more about ALA funding at About ALA

LIBRARY BOARDS/TRUSTEES

Myth
Public library trustees decide what books are in the library and can remove books at will.



Reality
In Idaho, public library boards are governing boards. A governing board of trustees sets library policy; sets and oversees the library’s budget; hires, supervises, evaluates, and works as a team with the library’s director; and makes sure that its community is well represented and informed regarding their local library and public libraries in general. They do not decide what books are purchased for the library and do not have the ability to remove books from a library’s collection at will.

Learn more about public library trustees at the Idaho Commission for Librariesand the Idaho Legislature.


Myth
School boards decide what books are in the library and can remove books at will.

Reality
School districts in Idaho each have their own policies and procedures for constituents wishing to request review or removal of specific materials. These policies are set by local school boards and should be followed every time a request is made to remove a book or library resource. School boards risk legal action should they remove library materials without following policy.

LIBRARY STAFF

Myth
Idaho librarians are trained by the ALA.

Reality
In general, librarians hold a Master’s Degree or Doctorate in Library Science. In Idaho, librarians may have a mixture of professional and graduate degrees, including advanced degrees in library science or teacher certifications. They often pursue professional development and training in library science through workshops and online classes. They may attend conferences provided by ALA but they receive their education and training elsewhere. 

Myth
Everyone who works in a library is a librarian.

Reality
Libraries have many employees with different job duties and different levels of education and training. Some library work is even done by volunteers.

PARENTAL RESPONSIBILITY

Myth
Library policies and procedures undermine parental rights.

Reality
Library staff cannot and do not act in the place of a parent, guardian or caretaker.  Libraries have different policies regarding how old a child must be to use the library unsupervised or have a library card, depending on the needs of their specific communities. Ask your local library about their policies regarding minors.

Myth
Parents can’t control what their children check out from the library.

Reality
It is a parent’s or guardian’s right and role to discuss with their child what is and is not appropriate for them to read, view, and listen to. Libraries include materials in their collections to meet the needs of everyone in their community. What is appropriate for one family or child may not be appropriate for others.

Libraries have many ways to empower parents in finding the right materials for their children. Librarians offer reader’s advisory services to help you select materials and provide personalized recommendations of authors and titles. Libraries also provide access to helpful resources such as NoveList K-8, Common Sense Media, and GoodReads. Ask your local librarian for assistance in finding materials that work for you and your family.

LIBRARY COLLECTIONS

Myth
Libraries have pornographic materials available for children.

Reality
Libraries do not have pornography in their collections. 

Library collections are organized and clearly labeled by age group to assist patrons in finding materials appropriate for them. Adult collections, intended for patrons ages 18 and older, contain some materials with mature themes. Children’s or juvenile collections contain materials appropriate for children between the ages of birth through 12, while teen collections have materials appropriate for young adults ages 13 through 18. The content of books in teen collections will be more mature than those in children’s or juvenile sections, including some sexual content.

Myth
I
f a book mentions sex, that means it is obscene or pornographic.

Reality
The Supreme Court and Idaho law has specific definitions of obscenity. In order to be considered obscene, the material in question must meet three requirements:

  1. The average person, applying contemporary community standards, finds that the matter, taken as a whole, appeals to prurient interests;

  2. The average person, applying contemporary community standards, finds that the matter depicts or describes sexual conduct in a patently offensive way;

  3. Whether a reasonable person finds that the matter, taken as a while, lacks serious literary, artistic, political, or scientific value.

Materials must meet all three requirements to be considered obscene, and content cannot be taken out of context from the work as a whole. If materials are found to meet these three requirements, they are not included in library collections.

See more about the Supreme Court’s ruling from the U.S. Department of Justice.

Myth
Materials with LGBTQIA+ content are obscene or pornographic.

Reality
LGBTQIA+ content is not synonymous with obscenity. Libraries serve everyone in their communities, and as such, work to include a wide range of content and information in their collections. What is right for one person or family may not be right for another. 

Libraries support the individual liberties and First Amendment rights of their patrons to choose what materials they watch, listen to, and read. Contact your local library if you have questions about how to find materials in the library that are right for you.

© 2021 Idaho Library Association

Idaho Library Association is a 501(c)6 non-profit organization. 4911 N Shirley Ave, Boise, Idaho 83703

Powered by Wild Apricot Membership Software