Intellectual Freedom Resources for Libraries

Discussion of censorship, intellectual freedom, and privacy issues in libraries as well as timeline of relevant events

Censorship defined...

The act of changing or suppressing speech or writing that is considered subversive of the common good. In the past, most governments believed it their duty to regulate the morals of their people; only with the rise in the status of the individual and individual rights did censorship come to seem objectionable. Censorship may be preemptive (preventing the publication or broadcast of undesirable information) or punitive (punishing those who publish or broadcast offending material).

Censorship Quotes

"Censorship is telling a man he can't have a steak just because a baby can't chew it." - Mark Twain


"The ultimate form of censorship is assassination." - George Bernard Shaw

Intellectual freedom defined...

is the freedom of an individual to hold or consider a fact, viewpoint, or thought, independent of others' viewpoints and maintain opinions without interference ; the ability to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and to engage in scholarly, pursuits of one's own choosing unobstructed

Also known as Freedom of Thought  as defined by Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights which states:

"Everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion; this right includes freedom to change his religion or belief, and freedom, either alone or in community with others and in public or private, to manifest his religion or belief in teaching, practice, worship and observance." 

Intellectual Freedom Quotes

“Therefore I would ask you to write all kinds of books, hesitating at no subject however trivial or however vast. By hook or by crook, I hope that you will possess yourselves of money enough to travel and to idle, to contemplate the future or the past of the world, to dream over books and loiter at street corners and let the line of thought dip deep into the stream.”  - Virginia WoolfA Room of One's Own

"The only tyrant I accept in this world is the still voice within." - Mohandas Karamchand (Mahatma) Gandhi

Privacy defined...

The ability of an individual or group to seclude themselves or information about themselves and thereby reveal themselves selectively. Privacy creates a space separate from political life, and allows personal autonomy, while ensuring democratic freedoms of association and expression.

Privacy Quotes

"A book is the only place in which you can examine a fragile thought without breaking it, or explore an explosive idea without fear it will go off in your face. It is one of the few havens remaining where a man's mind can get both provocation and privacy." - Edward P. Morgan 

"I think it is not wise for an emperor, or a king, or a president, to come down into the boxing ring, so to speak, and lower the dignity of his office by meddling in the small affairs of private citizens." - Mark Twain

Privacy Policies

By library type...


University of Michigan's Reference Privacy Policy


Alaska State Library

Library of Congress









(Business, Corporate, Law, Medical, etc.)