Introduction to Intellectual Freedom

October 21, 2019

The term intellectual freedom sounds
like a complicated, foreign concept. And it can be. But at its core intellectual
freedom is something that affects everyone everyday. Intellectual freedom
can also be complicated, but that’s what this video is for. This video will cover
the basics: what intellectual freedom is and why it is important. So let’s get
started. What is intellectual freedom, anyway? The American Library
Association’s Intellectual Freedom Manual describes it as “the right of
every individual to both seek and receive information from all points of
view without restriction.” Complex, right? Well in more casual terms that means
that when you go to the library and ask for information about a topic, they
shouldn’t provide biased information. For example, if you went to your local
library to ask for information about legalizing marijuana, and only received
information about why it shouldn’t be legal, you would probably feel like you
are missing half the story, right? Intellectual freedom is the ethical
principle that everyone should receive good information that covers the
different points of view. This then lets each person make an educated decision
for themselves. In our marijuana example, it would be difficult to make informed
opinions and choices if you are only presented with one side. It’s intellectual
freedom that is the reason that everyone should be provided with all the sides of
the information they request and need. Not complicated, right? Now you may be
wondering, why is intellectual freedom important? Why should you care? This one should be a little easier now that we understand the basic premise of
intellectual freedom. It is vital to the democratic process. It would be hard to
make an informed choice about political candidates, controversial
issues, current events, and more if you’re only receiving information about one
side of the argument. Getting high-quality information that presents
multiple viewpoints is necessary to making informed decisions. As the
Intellectual Freedom Manual states, “Intellectual freedom empowers young
people to make smart decisions and solve real-world problems.”
Intellectual freedom also includes library collections. Beyond just getting
information that has multiple points of view when you ask questions, there should also be books and materials at the library for browsing and checking out
that contain multiple viewpoints available to everyone. The need for
intellectual freedom in libraries extends past the answers to specific
questions and into fiction and nonfiction materials for all ages. It is
important that when you go to browse for a fun reading fiction book that the
books are representative of different people, cultures, and experiences. We often use books as a way to experience things that are different.
Think about how boring it would be if all the books on the shelf only were
about one type of experience — a girl in the suburbs who likes basketball.
Intellectual freedom creates collections with diversity, so you can find the
basketball books, but also space aliens, and people who don’t even look or live
like you. Intellectual freedom extends outside of the library and to every part
of your everyday life. Intellectual freedom protects not only your right to
learn and hear about all sides of an issue, but also to voice your opinion on
issues as well. Intellectual freedom helps each person to be able to make
well-informed decisions about social issues, political candidates, even which
refrigerator to buy.

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