Principles of Intellectual Freedom and the Right to Read

Principles of Intellectual Freedom and the Right to Read

The Delaware Library Association supports and strongly defends the rights of all people to read, seek information, and speak freely. Intellectual freedom, the concept that people may receive, disseminate, and hold ideas without restriction or interference, is a core value of the library profession and a basic right in our democratic society.

Intellectual freedom safeguards the right to access, explore, consider, express ideas, and share information. It is the bedrock for freedoms of expression, speech, the press, access to information, and the right to privacy. It encompasses a wide range of areas including academic freedom, internet filtering, and censorship. These rights are guaranteed by the First Amendment of the United States Constitution.

A foundational value of the Delaware Library Association is a person’s right to access information and to develop thoughts and opinions without restriction to access, barriers to privacy, and repercussions.

The Delaware Library Association opposes censorship of materials and advocates for free access to materials for every person. As the digital world evolves, libraries ensure that people can access the information they need regardless of race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, gender identity, age, disability status, religion, citizenship status, literacy level, primary language, or socioeconomic status including those who are geographically isolated or low income. The Delaware Library Association opposes any restrictions which include:

  • Censorship in any form
  • Banning books, media, and other resources; challenges to literature, and book burnings
  • Efforts to
    • limit access to information and free speech, including efforts to limit government information
    • diminish net neutrality
    • limit access to new technologies
  • Self-censorship by authors, editors, journalists, educators, library staff, and others

The Delaware Library Association supports an individual’s right to privacy of information and confidentiality of library users’ records of access. DLA defends against challenges to these rights. These challenges may include:

  • Threats to data protection and information privacy laws and practices
  • Monitoring of individuals’ reading habits and other harmful data extraction
  • Surveillance
  • Legislation that suspends civil liberties in the name of national security

Libraries of all types (academic, public, school, and special) are unique institutions of knowledge and education that provide information with balance and impartiality. Library materials are carefully selected by professionally trained librarians and represent a broad range of ideas and interests to appeal to the needs and interests of all members of the community they serve. In a democratic society, partisan disagreements cannot dictate the decision to include or remove library materials.

The Delaware Library Association supports the American Library Association’s policy documents which guide our profession:

The Freedom to Read Statement | Advocacy, Legislation & Issues

ALA Statement on Censorship of Information Addressing Racial Injustice, Black American History, and Diversity Education | Advocacy, Legislation & Issues

Schools and Minors’ Rights | Advocacy, Legislation & Issues

This statement reflects the underlying principles and the values of many sources and information provided by the American Library Association and our colleagues across the United States. We especially acknowledge the work of the Michigan Library Association and their generous sharing of content and intellectual property.