In a democratic society, the people are responsible for their own governance. Effective self-governance in turn requires that citizens be well informed. Libraries play a vital role in this regard by providing the means to access information and promoting the idea of intellectual freedom.
Intellectual freedom, as defined by the American Library Association, is “the 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.”
In Ohio, the Ohio Library Council’s Intellectual Freedom Committee works to support the library profession’s commitment to intellectual freedom. Advocacy and education are the two major areas of focus. The Committee believes that it is critical for staff, administrators, and board members to be aware of the professional position on intellectual freedom issues. Equally critical is the ability of staff and the board to respond effectively when intellectual freedom challenges arise.
To this end, the Committee has developed a number of programs that have been offered in various venues around the state. “Fundamentals of Intellectual Freedom” is an excellent introduction to intellectual freedom issues and has been part of OLC’s “New Director’s Workshop” the last two years. “The First Thirty Seconds” has been a recent favorite at OLC Chapter Conferences. Using real-life scenarios, role-playing, and discussion, this program provides public service staff with the tools and language they need to deal with challenges or concerns on the front lines.
As budgets have tightened, libraries have found it increasingly difficult to provide off-site training to staff. In response, the Intellectual Freedom Committee worked with OLC to develop “The Accessibility Temperature of Your Library.” This informative web-based program provides a chance to examine the physical, intellectual, and cultural accessibility of your library. An archived version of the session can be found here: http://www.olc.org/WebinarArchive.asp.
The Intellectual Freedom Committee has also taken advantage of Twitter to connect with others in the profession and share information about intellectual freedom, censorship, privacy, and the first amendment. Interested libraries and staff can follow along and join the conversation at https://twitter.com/olcif.
In addition to these programs, the Intellectual Freedom Committee has also arranged on-site training and staff development sessions for a number of Ohio libraries. On-site sessions can be arranged on request and are contingent upon presenter availability.
If you have questions about the Ohio Library Council’s Intellectual Freedom Committee or the work it does, be sure to visit their web page at http://www.olc.org/IntellectualFreedom.asp or contact Jeff Regensburger (Chair) at firstname.lastname@example.org.