What is Intellectual Freedom?

This week is Freedom to Read Week! The annual event is centered on the concept of intellectual freedom. It “encourages Canadians to think about and reaffirm their commitment to intellectual freedom, which is guaranteed them under the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.” The American Library Association Office for Intellectual Freedom defines intellectual freedom as “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.” This is a concept that all librarians take to heart and is a large part of our professional ethics. We provide the resources so that you can make informed judgements.

“You’ll never find any materials marked or identified to show approval or disapproval of the contents – that’s your decision. As a marketplace of ideas, [the library] provides a wide range of materials and we want you to use them freely and develop your own informed thoughts and opinions.” –Edmonton Public Library

The video below offers a good explanation of intellectual freedom and the freedom to read.


Sometimes you may find a resource in the Decoda Literacy Library that you consider offensive, controversial or outdated. One example could be works on learning styles. While many books are removed from the collection due to a variety of factors (inaccessible formats, poor physical condition, replaced by a new edition, etc.), we retain some materials that cover methods that may no longer be practiced, like learning styles, so that we maintain access to the knowledge held within. A use case for such materials could be for historical educational research, or having a dialogue about past practices. We leave the choice of how the materials are used up to our patrons.

If you have questions about intellectual freedom and how resources are chosen for the library, or removed from the collection, contact our librarian at library@decoda.ca.


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