Policy on Withdrawing Materials on Request

The George A. Smathers Libraries at the University of Florida occasionally receive requests from authors, publishers, disseminators, previous owners of library materials, or library community members for the Libraries to withdraw, destroy, or return particular items in the collection.  This policy applies to materials in any format. 

When the Smathers Libraries have selected and own the item, most requests will be declined, in keeping with the Libraries’ commitment to stewardship and preservation. The item is now part of the record of publication and should have, as such, a place in the Libraries’ collection. Some items are presented as part of the record of the past, or historical documents which reflect the attitudes, perspectives, and beliefs of different times. The Smathers Libraries make no claim to endorse the views expressed in these items, which may contain content offensive to users.  

Some collection materials are held under agreements that govern return, withdrawal, or destruction of those materials and these commitments will be upheld. 

The Smathers Libraries may choose to document the perceived problem that generated the request for return or withdrawal to inform potential users in the catalog record and possibly also in or on the item itself. 

First line responsibility rests with library collection managers, selectors, and/or curators in consultation with their supervisor or chair. Ultimate responsibility for the decision on whether or not to return, destroy, or delete collection materials rests with the Senior Associate Dean, Scholarly Resources and Services, in consultation as necessary with the Dean of University Libraries and the University of Florida Office of the General Counsel. 

If a review is warranted, it will be guided by the Smathers Libraries’ commitment to the principles of academic freedom and the principles contained in the Library Bill of Rights, which says in part: 

  • Books and other library resources should be provided for the interest, information, and enlightenment of all people of the community the library serves. Materials should not be excluded because of the origin, background, or views of those contributing to their creation.
  • Libraries should provide materials and information presenting all points of view on current and historical issues. Materials should not be proscribed or removed because of partisan or doctrinal disapproval.

The decision will be communicated to the requestor once the review is completed. 

Requests to return donated special collections materials should be directed to the Chair of the Special and Area Studies Collections Department. Requests to return donated general collection materials will be declined. 

The UF Digital Collections are permanent access and preservation repositories providing access to materials in perpetuity and long-term digital preservation at the request of and with the permission of the copyright holder. Any concerns about the content of published documents should be directed to the publisher or copyright holder. 

This policy does not pertain to the act of deselection, or “weeding”, through which library personnel remove outdated materials (not of historical significance) during the course of routine operations. 

*Adapted from: 

Yale University Library’s Policy on Withdrawing Materials on Request   

Cornell University Library’s Policy on Returning or Destroying Materials on Request  

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign Library’s Policy Request for Removal of Materials from the Collection or from General Circulation Due to Allegations of Dubious Scholarship 

Library of Congress’ National Jukebox:  https://www.loc.gov/collections/national-jukebox/about-this-collection/  


ALA Bill of Rights:  https://www.ala.org/advocacy/intfreedom/librarybill  

First Amendment and Censorship:  https://www.ala.org/advocacy/intfreedom/censorship  

ALA Statement on Book Censorship:  https://www.ala.org/advocacy/statement-regarding-censorship