What Is Intellectual Freedom?
Take it from Inigo Montoya, a fictional character from The Princess Bride; Intellectual Freedom is a complicated subject.
What Is Intellectual Freedom?
Intellectual freedom is the right of every individual to both seek and receive information from all points of view without restriction. It provides for free access to all expressions of ideas through which any and all sides of a question, cause or movement may be explored.
Why Is Intellectual Freedom Important?
Intellectual freedom is the basis for our democratic system. We expect our people to be self-governors. But to do so responsibly, our citizenry must be well-informed. Libraries provide the ideas and information, in a variety of formats, to allow people to inform themselves.
Intellectual freedom encompasses the freedom to hold, receive and disseminate ideas.
-American Library Association, Intellectual Freedom and Censorship Q & A
Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers.
Article 19, The Universal Declaration of Human Rights, United Nations
Libraries' Mission to Protect Intellectual Freedom
Library Bill of Rights
The American Library Association affirms that all libraries are forums for information and ideas, and that the following basic policies should guide their services.
I. 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.
II. 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.
III. Libraries should challenge censorship in the fulfillment of their responsibility to provide information and enlightenment.
IV. Libraries should cooperate with all persons and groups concerned with resisting abridgment of free expression and free access to ideas.
V. A person’s right to use a library should not be denied or abridged because of origin, age, background, or views.
VI. Libraries that make exhibit spaces and meeting rooms available to the public they serve should make such facilities available on an equitable basis, regardless of the beliefs or affiliations of individuals or groups requesting their use.
Adopted June 19, 1939, by the ALA Council; amended October 14, 1944; June 18, 1948; February 2, 1961; June 27, 1967; January 23, 1980; inclusion of “age” reaffirmed January 23, 1996.
A history of the Library Bill of Rights is found in the latest edition of the Intellectual Freedom Manual.
Libraries & Intellectual Freedom
Why do librarians defend intellectual freedom?
"...it’s not just that librarians believe that everyone has a right to read what they want to and determine what is appropriate to read and view -- free speech is the law."
Learn more at ilovelibraries.org
The First Amendment
Image from the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.
— The First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution
E for Everyone
-Painting by Michael J Deas
"Without Freedom of Thought, there can be no such Thing as Wisdom; and no such Thing as publick Liberty, without Freedom of Speech.”—Benjamin Franklin