Ten Tips: Tools to Interact with Library Patron Challenges with Confidence

Presented by: Pat Wagner

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Program Number: LI 137

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The tone of most material challenges (print and online access) begins with how library users are treated by staff when they have a concern about a book or web site. When concerns are taken seriously and library users are treated with civility, when decisions about collection development and rules about computer access are made transparently with input from the community and timely communication from the library’s leaders, most challenges are manageable.


  • Introduction: The Basic Rules
  • The Key Idea: Treat the challenges with respect by following an ethical and transparent process.
  • Ten Tips
  • Resources


  • Promote public discussions of First Amendment issues.
  • Develop and publicize written procedures for dealing with material challenges with community input.
  • Review and update collection development methods that reflect best practices regarding evaluating materials.
  • Discuss ethics of access to information and coping with distasteful materials with staff as part of their duties in a library.

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