Intellectual Freedom is our right to access information on any subject or view point. It is important that libraries provide information from a variety of view points in order for the public to educate themselves. Censorship is the restriction of access to certain kinds of ALA-IF.gifinformation or ideas. Censorship in libraries typically involves the removal or restriction of certain information from the public. Censors are often individuals who believe their censorship is for the good of society (American Library Assocation [ALA], 2007).

The First Admendment to the United States Constitution protects our right to access this information. This amendment of the Bill of Rights states: “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” ("First Amendment," n.d., para. 2).

There are some exceptions that aren't protected under the First Amendment; obscenity, child pornography, defamation, "fighting words", and some information that the government considers essential to national security (ALA, 2007).
The American Library Assocation's (ALA) Office for Intellectual Freedom (OIF) implements policies concerning intellectual freedom as stated in the Library Bill of Rights (ALA, 2008). The Library Bill of Rights is a guide for libraries regarding their responsibility to provide information, challenge censorship, and of everyone's right to use the library and have free access to material.

The Intellectual Freedom Committee (IFC) works with the OIF and other offices of the ALA regarding intellectual freedom and censorship. This committee recommends steps to safeguard rights of users, libraries and librarians based on the Library Bill of Rights and the First Amendment (ALA, 2006, "Intellectual Freedom Committee").

The Intellectual Freedom Round Table (IFRT) supports librarians involved in censorship controversies and provides a forum dedicated to the discussion of intellectual freedom (ALA, 2006, "Intellectual Freedom Round Table").


American Library Association. (2006). Intellectual Freedom Committee. Retrieved from

American Library Association. (2006). Intellectual Freedom Round Table. Retrieved from

American Library Association. (2007). Intellectual Freedom and Censorship Q & A. Retrieved from

American Library Association. (2008). Office for Intellectual Freedom. Retrieved from

First Amendment to the United States Constitution.(n.d.). In Wikipedia: The Free Encyclopedia.

Public Library of Charlotte & Mecklenburg County's (Charlotte, NC ) video on Intellectual Freedom - retrieved from YouTube

Resources to check out!