Ethics and Intellectual Freedom

Intellectual Freedom Committee

IFMANUALBy Dustin Fife

I was lucky enough to watch Martin Garnar present at a library conference last week.  He presented about library ethics and intellectual freedom.  Martin is dean of the Kraemer Family Library at the University of Colorado, Colorado Springs. He also happens to be the assistant editor of the ninth edition of the Intellectual Freedom Manual.

Listening to Martin talk about library ethics and intellectual freedom reminded me of how essential they are to everything we do at the library. One tweet, in particular, sums up much of what Martin presented and what I found so powerful.

Intellectual freedom isn’t just something that is important to librarians, intellectual freedom is what librarians do.  The relevance and sustainability of libraries is directly connected to how well we engender intellectual freedom and the many other ethics and values enumerated in the Library Bill of Rights and Code of Ethics .  Librarians ethical approach is one of the most important ways that they add value during the age of Google and Amazon.

Intellectual freedom is just one of librarianship’s core values that should be apparent in every program, policy, decision, and strategic plan.  We have codified and should embody the ethics of librarianship so that the public always knows and understands what we do, why we do it, and how we add value.

 As members of the American Library Association, we recognize the importance of codifying and making known to the profession and to the general public the ethical principles that guide the work of librarians, other professionals providing information services, library trustees and library staffs. 

Dustin Fife is the Outreach and Patron Services Librarian at Utah Valley University Library. Prior to coming to UVU Library, Dustin spent six years as a public library director for San Juan County, Utah. Dustin is currently the Past-President of the Utah Library Association. He can be reached at

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