Intellectual freedom, libraries and democracy

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Peer-Reviewed Research
  • SDG 16
  • Abstract:

    This exploration of the connection between the library and the broader socio-political sphere in which it functions is based on a keynote presentation originally given at the BOBCATSSS Conference in Lyons, January 2016. The freedom to seek and receive information and ideas in a secure and private environment is identified as the way in which the library contributes to intellectual freedom. Historical examples of radical thinkers who had or did not have this kind of access can be identified. The contribution of libraries is seldom overtly radical, but by offering access to content in a protected environment, libraries nurture potential political activists and leaders. A connection between libraries and democratic activity, which cannot necessarily be thought of as causal, can be observed, and even in non-democratic states the library can still make its own unobtrusive contribution.