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Banned Books and Intellectual Freedom?

by Laura Gleason on 2017-09-27T12:28:00-06:00 in Human Rights, American, Legislation, Eli M. Oboler Library, Library Science, Government

Banned Books Week, words have power, image of girl reading & fist raised

What does the America Library Association have to say about the fundamental principles of Banned Books Week

Here's a helpful Intellectual Freedom and Censorship Q & A sourced directly from ALA.

Why Is Intellectual Freedom Important?

Intellectual freedom is the basis for our democratic system. We expect our people to be self-governors. But to do so responsibly, our citizenry must be well-informed. Libraries provide the ideas and information, in a variety of formats, to allow people to inform themselves. Intellectual freedom encompasses the freedom to hold, receive and disseminate ideas.

What Is Censorship?

Censorship is the suppression of ideas and information that certain persons—individuals, groups or government officials—find objectionable or dangerous. It is no more complicated than someone saying, “Don’t let anyone read this book, or buy that magazine, or view that film, because I object to it! ” Censors try to use the power of the state to impose their view of what is truthful and appropriate, or offensive and objectionable, on everyone else. Censors pressure public institutions, like libraries, to suppress and remove from public access information they judge inappropriate or dangerous, so that no one else has the chance to read or view the material and make up their own minds about it. The censor wants to prejudge materials for everyone.

What Is The Relationship Between Censorship And Intellectual Freedom?

In expressing their opinions and concerns, would-be censors are exercising the same rights librarians seek to protect when they confront censorship. In making their criticisms known, people who object to certain ideas are exercising the same rights as those who created and disseminated the material to which they object. Their rights to voice opinions and try to persuade others to adopt those opinions is protected only if the rights of persons to express ideas they despise are also protected. The rights of both sides must be protected, or neither will survive

Aren’t There Some Kinds Of Expression That Really Should Be Censored?

The United States Supreme Court has ruled that there are certain narrow categories of speech that are not protected by the First Amendment: obscenity, child pornography, defamation, and “fighting words,” or speech that incites immediate and imminent lawless action. The government is also allowed to enforce secrecy of some information when it is considered essential to national security, like troop movements in time of war, classified information about defense, etc.

What Can I Do To Fight Censorship?

Stay informed. Know what is happening in your state legislature, local school and library boards, and city councils. Write letters expressing your view to your mayor, and your state and federal representatives and senators. Attend your local school and library board meetings.

Intellectual Freedom and Censorship Q & A. (2007, May 29). [Text]. Retrieved September 27, 2017, from http://www.ala.org/advocacy/intfreedom/censorship/faq


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