UC Berkeley Library policy on sacred texts

About the policy

Last updated: November 2021

The UC Berkeley Library holds a premier collection drawn from around the world to support research and study by our faculty, students, and other patrons. Many of the items in our collection are considered sacred in at least one religious tradition in the world. We have received requests to treat sacred texts differently from our other collections. Most commonly, such requests have included: placing sacred texts in a collection separated from other related collections, adding information about a religious tradition to certain texts, or somehow identifying the texts as sacred.

Our goal is to provide equal access to materials for research and learning. For this reason, we have chosen to catalog and process sacred texts as we do other materials. Philosophically, we believe that separating or marking out these texts from other collections risks impairing access to them, and may increase risk of loss or misplacement once out of our normal protocols. Practically, we do not have the capacity to consistently identify and accommodate all traditions with special treatment of their sacred texts. The Library treats all of our materials professionally and carefully throughout the lifecycle of an item. We also expect our patrons to treat all of our materials with respect and care.

Our local practice aligns with the national standards set out by the American Library Association in the Library Bill of Rights and their guidance on religion and intellectual freedom.