Intellectual Freedom Manual

Introduction to the New Edition

When the previous edition of the Manual was released in 2002, librarianship was in the middle of a major battle to defeat the Children’s Internet Protection Act (CIPA). The President signed the bill into law on December 21, 2000 (Public Law 106-554). The law was permanently enjoined by a three-judge panel on May 30, 2002.

The Supreme Court overturned the decision on June 23, 2003.

Here is a link to ALA web page – Litigation – which outlines the court cases against CIPA:

Here is a link to the CIPA Legal FAQ, last updated in 2009:

One of the most crucial constants is our profession’s commitment to intellectual freedom. It is a passionately felt commitment that has cost some of our colleagues their careers. Our belief in free speech, privacy, and the right to read and view, and our highly codified and articulated guidelines for practicing this belief, set us apart from any other profession. In the last three decades of librarianship, many of our most basic practices have become extinct or have changed so much that they are almost unrecognizable; yet our core values, and at the heart of them our fierce grasp on the power of intellectual freedom, make us unique.

Our core values drive our ongoing efforts to encourage and protect the free flow of information. These core values are the foundation upon which our libraries strive for transparency in our day-to-day operations.

We offer this revised manual to everyone concerned with creating and carrying out library policies and services. Whether you are a trustee, librarian, staff, friend or volunteer, as part of the library community you have taken on an obligation to become educated about intellectual freedom and library services. This applies to all types of libraries: academic, public, school and special. We also have an obligation to educate the larger community: university administrators, city or county executives and school boards, on the role of the library in supporting intellectual freedom and free speech. This education is an ongoing process, especially in a rapidly changing world with new information technologies.


Complete Manual (PDF)



IF Checklist (PDF)

Self-Censorship Checklist (PDF)

When the Censor Comes (PDF)

After the Censor Comes (PDF)

Applicable Laws (PDF)

IF Award Nomination Form (PDF)

Incident Report (PDF)