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Intellectual Freedom: Home

"intellectual freedom is the only guarantee of a scientific - democratic approach to politics, economic development, and culture." - Andrei Sakharov

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Jennie Callas

What is Intellectual Freedom?

According to the American Library Association (ALA), 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.

Intellectual Freedom Resources

Cooperative Children's Book Center (CCBC) - Resources and Infographics

Intellectual freedom protects expressive views and ideas of creators as outlined in the First Amendment. According to the American Library Association (ALA), the First Amendment protects public institutions [libraries] from having to compromise the ideals of free speech by establishing a framework that defines critical rights and responsibilities. It protects the freedom of speech, thought, and inquiry, and advocates respect for the right of others to do the same.

Librarians are stewards of intellectual freedom and strive to prevent the suppression of ideas and information. This suppression is called censorship. Censorship is an action to remove materials from public access based on an individual's or a group's objections to specific content or an entire work.

Have questions about how libraries handle challenged content or works? 


ALA offers guidance around equal access to information in their Intellectual Freedom Manual (2015) - available for purchase. Library professionals and students also may reference core documents and other guidelines on ALA's page dedicated to the topic of censorship and intellectual freedom. 

Learn What Academic Freedom Means to a Campus Community

Academic Freedom is an extension of Intellectual Freedom in academic libraries. ALA said, "A strong intellectual freedom perspective is critical to the development of academic library collections and services that dispassionately meet the education and research needs of a college or university community." 

Watch the video from ACRL to learn more about what Academic Freedom means for institutions and their faculty and students.

ALA Banned Books Week

ALA Banned Books Week supports the freedom to read and battling against censorship. For 2020, ALA created a list of the top challenged books in 2019 to spotlight this year, as these materials were the most targeted for removal from library collections. 

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