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Intellectual Freedom and Libraries: Complexity and Change in the Twenty‐First‐Century Digital Environment

Eliza T. Dresang
The Library Quarterly: Information, Community, Policy
Vol. 76, No. 2 (April 2006), pp. 169-192
DOI: 10.1086/506576
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/10.1086/506576
Page Count: 24
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Intellectual Freedom and Libraries: Complexity and Change in the Twenty‐First‐Century Digital Environment
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Abstract

What is the state of intellectual freedom and libraries in the early twenty‐first‐century digital environment? This question is addressed largely in relation to public and school libraries, where more than 90 percent of documented challenges exist and at which most legislative and judicial actions relevant to intellectual freedom and libraries are directed. Analyses of changing perceptions of the intellectual‐freedom leadership role of women and children; of the relevant policy documents of the American Library Association; of recent legislation and judicial decisions, focused on both books and the Internet; and of the current public perception of libraries as a public good reveal the complexities and tensions that exist in the answer to this question. One possible explanation for the current state of intellectual freedom and libraries is offered through application of radical‐change theory. Changes in research, education, and practice are suggested based on the conclusions from these analyses.

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