Intellectual freedom is the right of every individual to both seek and receive information from all points of view without restriction. It provides for free access to all expressions of ideas through which any and all sides of a question, cause or movement may be explored. ALA
With the loss of school librarians, I fear what I suspect are the already low numbers of educators who understand and value intellectual freedom will fall. I have no faith that programs that train network and computer support people will address this issue. Are college degree programs in educational technology addressing IF? (I really don't know.) A quick search of the ISTE website provided no hits on the topic.
AASL has long been trying to promote IF. Helen Adams, an active advocate and retired school librarian from Wisconsin, writes "... while I was chairperson, the AASL Intellectual Freedom Committee created an IF brochure in 2008 and revised it in 2010. ... parts are out of date, but it could be repurposed."
As I see school librarian positions being replaced or rebranded as "digital learning specialists" or "technology integration coaches," I worry about three real very real losses. The first is that teachers and students will lose a source of information and leadership on powerful reading improvement strategies focused on individualization of reading materials and personal interests. The second is that staff and students will no longer have access to experts who can teach information literacy skills.
But most of all I worry that the sole proponents of intellectual freedom for both students and staff will be eliminated.
There has never been a more critical time to understand and support intellectual freedom. The news media is highly politicized on both the left and the right. Technology allows us to select and read only the articles and columns that support our own opinions. Critical thinking takes a back seat to "basic skills" in many students' classrooms.
I hope ALA re-writes its brochure to address:
- Internet filtering issues as much as it does materials in print format
- freedom of expression of opinion, not just freedom of access
- enlarging the target audience to include all educators, not just librarians, and
- ALA working with other professional organizations in its efforts to promote IF.