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Intellectual Freedom Committee (IFC)

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What is the IFC and what do we do?

This committee's purpose is to create awareness among librarians of their responsibility to promote freedom of access to information in all types of libraries and to assist any library, library worker, library trustee, or friend of the library besieged by individuals or groups attempting to interfere with the right-to-read.

The committee shall reassure librarians, trustees, and friends of the library that they will receive support from the committee should the principles of the right-to-read be violated.

The committee shall submit pertinent proposals towards meeting these responsibilities to the MLA Board of Directors and report censorship incidents to the President and the Intellectual Freedom Office of the American Library Association.

In coordination with the Awards and Honors Committee and in compliance with the Guidelines of Awards and Honors (Appendix 2) of the MLA handbook, this committee may solicit nominations and select recipients for an Intellectual Freedom Award presented at the annual conference.

What is intellectual freedom and why is it important?

“Intellectual freedom 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.  Intellectual freedom is the basis for our democratic system. We expect our people to be self-governors. But to do so responsibly, our citizenry must be well-informed. Libraries provide the ideas and information, in a variety of formats, to allow people to inform themselves.  Intellectual freedom encompasses the freedom to hold, receive and disseminate ideas.”

- from the ALA Intellectual Freedom and Censorship Q & A

Resources for Libraries and Librarians

How can I be prepared for censorship challenges?

What should I do if a challenge occurs?

What should we do if a challenge reaches the public hearing stage?

  • Employ a neutral facilitator to manage the proceedings
  • Let people have their say
  • Be prepared to deal with the press
  • Remember that the ultimate decision about retention of items rests with the District Superintendent or Library Board.

Why is it important to report censorship challenges?

  • Censorship challenges are stressful and can be damaging to staff morale and the library’s reputation.  Sharing your experience with challenges and resolutions provides help and moral support to other librarians that encounter censorship attempts.

Where can I go for help with challenges?

How can the MLA Intellectual Freedom Committee help?

  • Maintains regular communications with, offers assistance to librarian until resolution
  • Reports to MLA Board and membership on status of challenge
  • Reports on resolution of challenge to MLA Board & membership and ALA Office of Intellectual Freedom
  • Adds information about challenge to website (wiki)
  • Sends documents pertaining information about challenge to MLA Executive Director who will forward for archiving at the Montana Historical Society

Montana Library Association is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization. PO Box 823, Arlee, MT 59821

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