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Intellectual Freedom & K-12 School Libraries

Intellectual freedom is defined in article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights as, “the right to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers” (UNESCO, 2019, para. 10). Valerie Nye, library director at the Institute of American Indian Arts in Santa Fe, drills to the heart of the matter by defining intellectual freedom as the “right to read, learn and explore without limitations“ (2017, para.8). How do these freedoms apply when considering K-12 school libraries and why is it important? First, students across the K-12 spectrum are afforded rights under the first amendment, the American Library Association’s Bill of Rights, and within the purview of the American Association of School Librarian’s standards. Second, it is the responsibility of the school librarian to make sure that the library is offering a wide range of services, resources, and a physical collection that meets the diverse interests and learning needs that protect the intellectual freedom of the school community. Finally, promoting intellectual freedom benefits the students directly, across the K-12 spectrum, in their perspective, identity, and empathy building, motivation to engage with reading and learning, and explore experiences that will allow them to make stronger more relevant connections as a global citizen (Gaffney, 2018). References Gaffney, L. (2018, April 11). Intellectual freedom and youth: Practical and philosophical considerations. Knowledge Quest. https://knowledgequest.aasl.org/intellectual-freedom-and-youth-practical-and-phil osophical-considerations/. Nye, V. (2017, October 2). Why is intellectual freedom important? Intellectual Freedom Blog. https://www.oif.ala.org/oif/?p=11060. UNESCO. (2019, December 2). UNESCO and the Universal Declaration on human rights. UNESCO. https://en.unesco.org/udhr.