Unglamorous aspects of intellectual freedom:

A brief defense of the boring and everyday


When we think of promoting intellectual freedom we usually think of fighting against book banning and censorship, but there are some more everyday approaches to intellectual freedom in the library.

If the keys to intellectual freedom are access and privacy, then the day-to-day circulation, and reference transactions are the areas can do the most foster freedom of the mind. Simple things the library does maintain privacy so that patrons feel free to read whatever they choose. For example, libraries delete records of what they have checked out. Libraries make sure no one browses the holds-shelf to see who has what on hold. Libraries do not allow friends and family members to ask what is on another persons account. The library promotes access to materials through clear organization, and customer service. For instance, providing information at the reference desk without judgment, keeping the stacks neat, and making the library environment safe and inviting all promote intellectual freedom.

None of these ideas are surprising or original, in fact they are all standard practice in libraries. I think it is important that we recognize the serious issues like Intellectual Freedom behind our basic, even boring, everyday functions as librarians.