Intellectual Freedom

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For related information on Book Challenges/Censorship see also Censorship.

For related information on Internet Filtering see also Filtering.

For related information on Privacy, see also Ethical Issues.

ALA Policy Statements

Access to Electronic Information, Services, and Networks: An Interpretation of the Library Bill of Rights

Access to Resources and Services in the School Library Media Program: An Interpretation of the Library Bill of Rights

Challenged Materials: An Interpretation of the Library Bill of Rights

Library Bill of Rights

Questions and Answers on "Access to Electronic Information, Services, and Networks"


American Association of School Librarians. (2010) "Intellectual Freedom Online" Knowledge Quest, Volume 39, Number 1. The issue contains articles related to minors’ First Amendment rights online, filtering issues, Choose Privacy Week, and ethical use of social technology. (AASL members–Learn how to access the KQ Online Archives)

American Association of School Librarians. (2007) "Intellectual Freedom 101" Knowledge Quest, v. 36, no. 2. This issue of Knowledge Quest and the related KQWeb archive includes articles, interviews, research, and links to intellectual freedom resources of primary interest to school librarians. (AASL members–Learn how to access the KQ Online Archives)

Corl, Susan. "ACCESS- Small Word, Big Concept" State Library of Ohio. The News. September 2010. Corl writes about different ways that librarians can create an atmosphere which brings easier access to information for one’s library patrons. The article includes a checklist designed to evaluate the “accessibility temperature” in a library.

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Adams, Helen R. (2013) Protecting Intellectual Freedom and Privacy in Your School Library Westport, CT: Libraries Unlimited. ISBN:9781610691383 Each of the nine chapters begins with an introductory essay examining the topic and concludes with a "key ideas" summary; a list of annotated resources to lead the reader to more information on the individual column topics; and discussion questions.

Nye, Valerie and Kathy Barco, editors. True Stories of Censorship Battles in America’s Libraries. Chicago: ALA Editions, 2012. ISBN-13: 978-0-8389-1130-3 An engrossing new book with stories of censorship attempts in schools, public, and academic libraries. The books also addresses self-censorship, age-appropriateness, dealing with cultural expressions, controversy over book displays, and censorship in prison libraries.

Office for Intellectual Freedom (OIF). (2010) Intellectual Freedom Manual. 8th ed. Chicago: American Library Association. ISBN 978-0-8389-3590-3. This "bible" for intellectual freedom includes the guidelines, policies, and interpretations of the Library Bill of Rights as well as the ALA Code of Ethics and the Freedom to Read statement. Additionally, experts address the historical and current issues of libraries, access, and the First Amendment.

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Organizations and Groups Supporting Intellectual Freedom

American Civil Liberties Union. The ACLU defends our first amendment freedoms by mounting legal challenges to statutes, policies, and practices around the U.S. that threaten individual liberties. The site includes information and a guide to web resources on a wide range of controversial issues confronting the U.S.

Comic Book Legal Defense Fund. CBLDF is a nonprofit organization dedicated to the protection of the First Amendment rights of the comics art form and its community of retailers, creators, publishers, librarians, and readers. The CBLDF provides legal referrals, representation, advice, assistance, and education in furtherance of these goals.

Electronic Frontier Foundation. The EFF is an international nonprofit advocacy and legal organization with the stated purpose of being dedicated to preserving free speech rights in the context of today's digital age. The site provides updates on current legal cases, issues alerts, an issues-related blog, and an email newsletter.

Freedom to Read Foundation. The FRF, with the motto "Free People Read Freely," was established "to promote and defend the right ...of all individuals to express their ideas without governmental interference, and to read and listen to the ideas of others." Sponsors programs, awards, podcasts, and other resources.

National Council of Teachers of English Anti-Censorship Center. NCTE offers advice, helpful documents such as the "Students' Right to Read", and other support at no cost to educators faced with challenges to literary works, films and videos, drama productions, or teaching methods.

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AASL Chairperson Liaison Responsibilities] This document outlines the responsibilities of the chairperson liaison for the AASL Intellectual Freedom Committee.

Banned Websites Awareness Day To raise awareness of the overly restrictive blocking of legitimate, educational websites and academically useful social networking tools in schools and school libraries, AASL has designated one day during Banned Books Week as Banned Websites Awareness Day. AASL is asking school librarians and other educators to promote an awareness of how overly restrictive filtering affects student learning.

Choose Privacy Week Choose Privacy Week is an initiative of the ALA Office for Intellectual Freedom that invites library users into a national conversation about privacy rights in a digital age. The campaign gives libraries the tools they need to educate and engage users, and gives citizens the resources to think critically and make more informed choices about their privacy. The Office for Intellectual Freedom is charged with implementing ALA policies concerning the concept of intellectual freedom as embodied in the Library Bill of Rights, the Association’s basic policy on free access to libraries and library materials.

Intellectual Freedom Brochure This AASL Intellectual Freedom Committee brochure is available for download, duplication, and distribution. It describes why intellectual freedom is important in a school library program, the difference between selection and censorship, what to do before a challenge occurs, where to obtain assistance during a challenge, why schools filter and how it affects students intellectual freedom, and how the ALA Code of Ethics affects school librarians.

Intellectual Freedom Manual Website This site was designed to supplement the Intellectual Freedom Manual, Eighth Edition—from the ALA Office for Intellectual Freedom. Although still a work in progress, this site will provide visitors with access to all the resources referenced in the book that are available online and up-to-date information on evolving intellectual freedom issues. One such resource is Pat Scale's School Library Media Centers and Intellectual Freedom.. Scales, a retired middle and high school librarian, reviews the current issues surrounding intellectual freedom in school libraries including book censorship, access to resources, labeling, and Internet use.

"Kids, Know Your Rights! A Young Person’s Guide to Intellectual Freedom" This short publication, developed by the Intellectual Freedom Committee 2005-2007 of the Association for Library Service to Children (ALSC), explains the concept of intellectual freedom, responsibilities of libraries to uphold the First Amendment, students’ rights related to reading and privacy, recommended titles of non-fiction and fiction on free speech, censorship, and the Bill of Rights.

What Your State Intellectual Freedom Committee Can Do for You The AASL Intellectual Freedom Committee created this Word document of suggested activities list to assist your state committee in promoting intellectual freedom in school library programs.

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