Library Complaint and Censorship Records (Northborough Free Library)

Chris Peterson filed this request with the Northborough Free Library of Northborough, MA.
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From: Chris Peterson

To Whom It May Concern:

This is a request under the Massachusetts Public Records Law (M. G. L. Chapter 66, Section 10) for a copy of the following records:

Copies of written and electronic complaints and challenges for removal, reclassification, or other reconsideration of publications including books, magazines, movies, websites (e.g. filtered from library computers), or other media from January 1, 2010, to present, as well as records, petitions, and correspondence related to these challenges.

We seek such records as, for example, are classified by the Massachusetts’ Supervisor of Public Records Municipal Records Retention Manual under Section 17.004: Complaint and Censorship Records, though we do not limit our request to those so classified.

According to 950 CMR 32.06(5), every custodian of records is encouraged to waive fees where disclosure would benefit the public interest, as we believe these will. This request is part of a research project by the Center for Civic Media to better understand how and why library materials are challenged in the State of Massachusetts. We are committed to open access and plan to make our findings broadly available to the public. If fees cannot be waived please inform me in advance.

We ask that, if possible, you please respond via email with text documents or clear, high-quality scanned PDFs. If you cannot reply electronically, please mail us the best quality copies you reasonably can. Your efforts helps us ensure broad accessibility and equity.

The statute requires your response to this request within 10 business days. Thank you in advance for your cooperation in helping us better understand this important aspect of the work that you do. Please feel free to email me directly if you have any further questions.


- Chris Peterson
Research Assistant
Center for Civic Media
Massachusetts Institute of Technology

From: Northborough Free Library

Dear Mr./Ms. Peterson,
I will ask my professional librarians if any of them have had such as a request as you describe. To my memory, we have had no such request in the time frame you mention, but I will look into it further.

From: Northborough Free Library

I have checked with the professional librarians and reviewed my files, and we have no written (or electronic) complaints or challenges regarding any library material since 2010. Thanks to your helpful citation, I found that we are not legally obliged to retain these records once the complaint has been resolved. But I am quite sure that we did not have any written documents of this nature at any time during the time period cited to even be concerned about retention.


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