Practicing Intellectual Freedom in Libraries

Libraries Unlimited. Aug. 2019. 193p. ISBN 9781440863127. pap. $55. PRO MEDIA
Protecting intellectual freedoms is both an essential value of librarianship and a skill that must be cultivated, argues Oltmann (Sch. of Information Science, Univ. of Kentucky). By familiarizing themselves with the principals of intellectual freedom and learning to recognize barriers to information, librarians can meet the needs of all users. In this thorough, copiously researched work, Oltmann explains that intellectual freedom is rooted in the First Amendment, which safeguards not only freedom of speech but also the right to information. She demonstrates how these issues apply to library services, emphasizing that a library’s main mission is to provide access to information. Oltmann pushes librarians to promote diversity and balance in their collections, and considers difficult questions—in light of sexual abuse allegations against Sherman Alexie, should his YA novel The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian be removed? Alt-right activist Milo Yiannopoulos perpetuates hate speech—should libraries buy his book Dangerous? Ultimately, Oltmann urges librarians to put personal preferences aside and to rely on the principles of intellectual freedom when mulling these issues.
VERDICT Along with the latest edition of ALA’s Intellectual Freedom Manual, Oltmann’s thoughtful work is an important resource for LIS students, librarians, and administrators alike.
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