Foundations of Intellectual Freedom

ALA Neal-Schuman. Oct. 2022. 144p. ISBN 9780838937839. pap. $54.99. PRO MEDIA
Knox (information sciences, Univ. Illinois at Urbana-Champaign; Book Banning in 21st-Century America) provides an excellent addition to ALA Neal-Schuman’s “Foundations” series. Knox tackles the complex and contested concept of intellectual freedom, one of ALA’s core values of librarianship. Some parts of this book may appeal to students and academics interested in brushing up on current definitions of key concepts related to intellectual freedom: freedom of expression, access to information, censorship, and privacy. Other parts of this book contextualize intellectual freedom within the library profession and will be best appreciated by librarians grappling with professional ethics in a changing socio-political landscape. Each of the book’s eight chapters covers some aspect of intellectual freedom followed by recommendations for further reading and discussion questions. Knox admits that because of the contested nature of the topic, her 144-page treatment of intellectual freedom does not offer readers definitive answers to the great debates of censorship, free speech, privacy, or hate speech. Instead, it charts their history in librarianship, legislation, and politics in the United States and around the world.
VERDICT Knox offers a primer on intellectual freedom for library students and librarians alike, succinctly revealing the complexity of this timely topic.
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