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Policy 3.14

Policy on Intellectual Freedom

Adopted Date: November 2012
Reviewed Date: November 2021
Review Date: April 2025

Purpose of the Policy:

The West Lincoln Public Library Board recognizes that it has a fundamental responsibility to advocate for, and to uphold the principles of intellectual freedom. This policy is intended to ensure the rights of individuals to access any lawful information that they require.


The West Lincoln Public Library Board adopts the Canadian Library Association Statement on Intellectual Freedom, Attached as Appendix “A” to this policy.

It is the responsibility of the West Lincoln Public Library Board, and those that work in the West Lincoln Public Libraries, to guarantee and facilitate access to all lawful expressions of knowledge and intellectual activity, including those which some elements of society may consider to be unconventional, unpopular or unacceptable.

It is the responsibility of the CEO and Supervisors to make available all of the library's public facilities and services to all individuals and groups.

CEO and Supervisors will resist all efforts to limit the exercise of these responsibilities, while recognizing the right of criticism by individuals and groups.

The West Lincoln Public Library Board directs the Chief Executive Officer to ensure that the principles of intellectual freedom are integrated into all organizational policies, procedures and practices.

3.14 Appendix A: Policy on Intellectual Freedom

Ontario Library Association

Statement on Intellectual Freedom and the Intellectual Rights of the Individual


The Ontario Library Association and its divisions are committed to the fundamental rights of intellectual freedom, the freedom to read and freedom of the press, as embodied in the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

Ontario Libraries have the important responsibility to facilitate expressions of knowledge, creativity, ideas, and opinion, even when viewed as unconventional or unpopular.

The Ontario Library Association declares its acceptance of the following principles for libraries:

  1. Equitable access to library service to the public is based upon the right of the citizen, under the protection of the law, to judge individually on questions of politics, religion and morality.
  2. Intellectual freedom requires freedom to critically examine and create other ideas, oopinions, views, and philosophy of life, other than those currently approved by the local community or by society in general and including those ideas and interpretations which may be unconventional, uncommon or unpopular.
  3. The free traffic in ideas and opinions is essential to the health and growth of a free society and that the freedom to read, listen, view, and create is fundamental to such free traffic.
  4. Library governance ensures that the principles of intellectual freedom and expression of thought are upheld.

Library Service, Collections and Resources:

  1. It is the responsibility of libraries to maintain the right of intellectual freedom and to implement it consistently in the selection of books, periodicals, films, recordings, and other materials including the provision of access to electronic sources of information and access to the internet. Materials are not excluded from library collections based on race, place of birth, origin, ethnic origin, ethnicity, citizenship, age, creed, disability, family structure, sex, and sexual orientation.
  2. It is part of the library’s service to its public to resist any attempt by any individual or group within the community it serves to abrogate, censor or curtail access to information, the freedom to read, view, listen or participate by demanding the removal of, or restrictions to library information sources in any format.

Library Programming, Events, and Space Bookings

  1. It is the responsibility of libraries to maintain the right of intellectual freedom and expression by implementing it consistently when hosting programs and events within the public space of the library including rented public space by individuals and community organizations.
  2. Libraries create welcoming community spaces where community members are free from discrimination and may engage in peaceful assembly. Libraries may cancel or deny permits to individuals or organizations when speech or displays are used in a way that is unlawful.

Applicable Legislation

Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms: Section 2(b) of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms protects “freedom of thought, belief, opinion and expression, including freedom of the press and other media of communication”.

Criminal Code: Section 63 pertains to Unlawful Assemblies and Riots. Section 297 pertains to defamatory libel. Section 318 pertains to hate propaganda.

Ontario Human Rights Code: Sub-section 13 pertains to infringing on freedom from discrimination.

Revision approved at the OLA AGM, January 30, 2020

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