Intellectual freedom: Waving and wavering across three national contexts

Shannon M. Oltmann, Toni Samek, Louise Cooke

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


The 1999 IFLA Statement on Libraries and Intellectual Freedom makes no explicit distinction between personal and professional ethics, though there are implicit indications that there may be divergence between professional and personal considerations. Across three national contexts (the USA, Canada, and the UK), we explore the gaps between professional and personal ethics, as well as how these gaps have been potentially exploited, addressed, or resolved. There have been waves of debate about intellectual freedom and social responsibility across these three national contexts. In the contemporary age, we see clashes around conceptions of neoliberalism, neutrality, expressive freedom, justice, diversity, equity, inclusion, and anti-racism. The divergence of opinion comes from both the left and the right. The gap between library rhetoric and how it is practiced on the ground in different contexts is visibly shifting and under increased scrutiny, certainly in the USA, Canada, and the UK.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)439-448
Number of pages10
JournalIFLA Journal
Issue number3
StatePublished - Oct 2022

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© The Author(s) 2022.


  • Intellectual freedom
  • conservative
  • justice
  • liberal
  • social responsibility

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Library and Information Sciences


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