Canadian Library Association Releases New Statement on Intellectual Freedom and Libraries
November 17, 2015
(Ottawa. November 17, 2015) – Today, the Canadian Library Association (CLA) released of a new Statement on Intellectual Freedom and Libraries.
This new Statement replaces the previous 30 year old Position Statement on Intellectual Freedom. The Statement seeks to provide a broader national and international context for the role of libraries in ensuring intellectual freedom as well as a framework for Canadian libraries to provide, defend, and promote equitable access to the widest possible variety of expressive content and resist calls for censorship and the adoption of systems that deny or restrict access to resources.
“I am very excited to have had the privilege of shepherding a revised statement of intellectual freedom principles on behalf of the Canadian Library Association” stated Alvin Schrader, Chair Intellectual Freedom Advisory Committee. “I am indebted to Community members who provided valuable feedback on an earlier draft and to my intellectual freedom advisory committee members for their contributions.”
The CLA would like to thank the hard work of Alvin Schrader and the CLA Intellectual Freedom Advisory Committee in reviewing and updating this core statement for the library and information community. “The Committee has presented a strong and compelling update to one of the library field’s most important value statements,” noted Sandra Singh, President of the Canadian Library Association. “Without the active vigilance of librarians and library workers across this country, there is always a risk of slow erosion to the fundamental information rights protected through intentional and active adoption of statements such as this.”
Canadian Library Association Statement on Intellectual Freedom and Libraries
The Canadian Library Association recognizes and values the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms as the guarantor of the fundamental freedoms in Canada of conscience and religion; of thought, belief, opinion, and expression; of peaceful assembly; and of association.
The Canadian Library Association supports and promotes the universal principles of intellectual freedom as defined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which include the interlocking freedoms to hold opinions and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers.
In accordance with these principles, the Canadian Library Association affirms that all persons in Canada have a fundamental right, subject only to the Constitution and the law, to have access to the full range of knowledge, imagination, ideas, and opinion, and to express their thoughts publicly. Only the courts may abridge free expression rights in Canada.
The Canadian Library Association affirms further that libraries have a core responsibility to support, defend and promote the universal principles of intellectual freedom and privacy.
The Canadian Library Association holds that libraries are a key institution in Canada for rendering expressive content accessible and affordable to all. Libraries are essential gateways for all persons living in Canada to advance themselves through literacy, lifelong learning, social engagement, and cultural enrichment.
Libraries have a core responsibility to safeguard and facilitate access to constitutionally protected expressions of knowledge, imagination, ideas, and opinion, including those which some individuals and groups consider unconventional, unpopular or unacceptable. To this end, in accordance with their mandates and professional values and standards, libraries provide, defend and promote equitable access to the widest possible variety of expressive content and resist calls for censorship and the adoption of systems that deny or restrict access to resources.
Libraries have a core responsibility to safeguard and foster free expression and the right to safe and welcoming places and conditions. To this end, libraries make available their public spaces and services to individuals and groups without discrimination.
Libraries have a core responsibility to safeguard and defend privacy in the individual’s pursuit of expressive content. To this end, libraries protect the identities and activities of library users except when required by the courts to cede them.
Furthermore, in accordance with established library policies, procedures and due process, libraries resist efforts to limit the exercise of these responsibilities while recognizing the right of criticism by individuals and groups.
Library employees, volunteers and employers as well as library governing entities have a core responsibility to uphold the principles of intellectual freedom in the performance of their respective library roles.
Approved by Executive Council ~ June 27, 1974
Amended November 17, 1983; November 18, 1985; and September 27, 2015