Library Complaint and Censorship Records (Princeton Public Library)

Chris Peterson filed this request with the Princeton Public Library of Princeton, MA.


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: Mary Barroll

Hello Chris,

I began working here at Princeton Public Library on Jan 2 of this year so I am not personally familiar with complaints over the last three years. We have no written records of any "complaint or censorship" request occurring here since January 2010.

But in talking with the staff and trustees they remember a complaint happening about a year ago regarding the children's book "AND TANGO MAKES THREE." A patron was unhappy with the subject matter of the book. Our policy is to have the patron state their concerns in writing. The library trustees then review the concerns and decide whether or not they have merit. In that case I am told the book remained on the shelf. The staff and trustees have no memory of any other complaint about our resources from the last few years.

I hope this information helps in your research.


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