Challenge policy

The resources acquired for DeWitt Library are selected to meet the teaching, research, and service functions of Northwestern College. The inclusion of any resource does not mean that the library or college advocates or endorses the ideas found in that resource.

The library intentionally seeks to develop collections and resources that provide teachers and learners with diverse, and often disparate, views on subjects related to the curriculum. Milton’s Areopagitica, as cited in Northwestern College’s Faculty Handbook, describes the intellectual climate that the library seeks to provide through its collections: “Where there is much desire to learn, there of necessity will be much arguing, much writing, many opinions; for opinion in good men is but knowledge in the making.” In creating this environment, DeWitt Library’s collection development policies and practices are consistent with Articles I and II of the American Library Association’s Bill of Rights.  

Resources in DeWitt Library may be challenged by current students, faculty, staff, and board members of Northwestern College. A challenge to a resource in the library must be based on the failure of that resource to fall within the library’s collection development policies, including the commitment to intellectual freedom. When challenging an item, the patron may request the library take one of two actions: 

  1. removal of an item because it is inappropriate; or
  2. the addition of resources to balance the collection by providing alternative views. 

The library may agree to take either action or no action at all. Challenged items will remain on the shelf and available to library patrons during the duration of the challenge.  

Procedure for Challenging Items

Persons wishing to challenge a resource in DeWitt Library will be asked to write a letter to the library director. The director will acknowledge receipt of the formal challenge within 5 working days, plus inform the Vice-President of Academic Affairs (VPAA) of the challenge. The request will then be considered by the library director, all other librarians on staff, and the VPAA. This group may consult other faculty or staff members as well, such as those who may have expertise in a particular subject area. This group will make a decision about what actions to take, if any, within 15 working days of receiving the challenge. The library director will notify the challenger via letter about the decision. 

 Formal challenges must include the following:

  • Bibliographic information about the resource, including author, title, publisher, and publication date or the equivalent for non-book resources.
  • Personal information about the challenger, including name, campus status (student, faculty, staff, board member), and department affiliation.
  • Detailed analysis of the resource being challenged, including concerns about the resource and recommendations for other resources that may provide different viewpoints on the topic.

Challenges should be sent to the library director at the following address:

Library Director
DeWitt Library, Northwestern College
101 7th Street SW
Orange City, IA 51041