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Intellectual freedom is a human right, as defined by Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Article 19 states:

Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers.

Intellectual freedom is promoted by several professions and movements. These entities include, among others, librarianship, education, and the Free Software Movement.


Intellectual freedom and librarianship

The profession of librarianship views intellectual freedom as a core responsibility. The International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions' Statement on Libraries and Intellectual Freedom "calls upon libraries and library staff to adhere to the principles of intellectual freedom, uninhibited access to information and freedom of expression and to recognize the privacy of library user." IFLA urges its members to actively promote the acceptance and realization of intellectual freedom principles. IFLA states: "The right to know is a requirement for freedom of thought and conscience; freedom of thought and freedom of expression are necessary conditions for freedom of access to information."[1]

Individual national library associations expand upon these principles when defining intellectual freedom for their constituents. For example, the American Library Association's Intellectual Freedom Q & A defines intellectual freedom as: "[T]he 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 encompasses the freedom to hold, receive and disseminate ideas."[2]

The Canadian Library Association's Position Statement on Intellectual Freedom states that all persons possess "the fundamental right have access to all expressions of knowledge, creativity and intellectual activity, and to express their thoughts publicly."[3]

Many other national library associations have similarly adopted statements on intellectual freedom.

Intellectual freedom under authoritarian rule

Intellectual freedom is often suppressed under authoritarian rule and such governments often claim to have nominal intellectual freedom, although the degree of freedom is a matter of dispute. The former USSR, for example, claimed to provide intellectual freedom, but some analysts in the West have stated that the degree of intellectual freedom was nominal at best.

See also

Freedom of thought

External links




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