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Challenged Materials Policy

It is the policy of the Northwestern University Libraries that materials acquired or produced as part of the Libraries’ collections will not subsequently be withdrawn based on allegations of false, misleading, pejorative, defamatory, offensive, or potentially harmful content. As a library, our materials are provided for the interest, information, and enlightenment of the communities the Libraries serve. The Libraries do not exclude materials because of the origin, background, or views of those contributing to their creation.

The Libraries understand that authors, creators, or collectors may, intentionally or inadvertently, misstate facts, reach erroneous conclusions, or make claims that may, in fact or in perception, be hurtful to individuals or lead future researchers astray. It is not the task of the Libraries to verify or validate the contents of what it acquires, but it is to make research available for review, rebuttal, substantiation, support or further inquiry as well as correct known errors issued by publishers.

It is the position of the Northwestern University Libraries that claims and counterclaims are the essence of what is protected as academic freedom and that the Libraries have no role mediating these interchanges. Our policy is that materials acquired by the Libraries stand as published.

In the case of materials made available via the Libraries’ locally curated and managed digital collections or reproduced in physical spaces, we have created a process to engage in a dialogue around the immediacy of access to potentially harmful collections.

How to contact us

If you encounter images, language, or other content you consider harmful, offensive, or inappropriate, or if you have questions or comments about the policy above, please contact us at Your email will be reviewed by the Collections Strategy Committee, curators, and/or subject specialists. In your email, please include your name, your email, the webpage link or physical location of the material, and any comments you have.

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Last Review & Revision: 2022