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Intellectual Freedom Action Network

"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. Intellectual freedom encompasses the freedom to hold, receive and disseminate ideas."—Intellectual Freedom and Censorship Q & A
"Restriction of free thought and free speech is the most dangerous of all subversions. It is the one un-American act that could most easily defeat us."—Supreme Court Justice William O. Douglas," The One Un-American Act," Nieman Reports, vol. 7, no. 1 (Jan. 1953): p. 20.

How Can You Help Protect First Amendment Rights?

Participate in the Intellectual Freedom Action Network

Each year, between 500 and 600 challenges against library materials in public libraries, schools, and school libraries are reported to the American Library Association’s Office for Intellectual Freedom. These challenges—formal, written complaints filed with the institution (library, school, etc.) regarding the presence and/or appropriateness of specific material—only reflect incidents reported to the OIF. Judith F. Krug, OIF director, has noted that for each challenge reported, there may be as many as four or five that remain unreported.

In response to these challenges and attacks, OIF has developed the Intellectual Freedom Action Network (IFAN). There is no fee to become an IFAN member; what is needed is time: members are asked to act as “eyes” and “ears” for intellectual freedom.

Indeed, IFAN is a grassroots, ad hoc group of volunteers who have identified themselves as willing to come forward in support of the freedom to read in censorship controversies in their communities.

The purpose of the IFAN is twofold. First, participants are asked to submit to OIF information on groups that are attempting to censor materials in libraries. Although many of these groups are nationally based, they also may have local chapters. Local groups without a national affiliation also are very powerful in some communities. Second, IFAN members are asked to lend support when a controversy erupts in their community. Such support could take the form of a letter to the editor, attending a school or library board meeting' or even a supportive phone call to a colleague being challenged.

The OIF keeps the IFAN up to date by maintaining an electronic discussion list of members who receive information on controversies where assistance would be appreciated. IFAN members have been helpful in several local and statewide controversies involving book challenges, proposed changes in library policy and operation that would limit access to library materials, and state legislation that would restrict the availability of constitutionally protected expression.

The IFAN was formed as a “rapid response” force to counter the successful and widespread efforts of national censorship pressure groups to organize and mobilize local chapters working on the local level to restrict the availability of expressive materials with which they disagree or find offensive. Librarians being attacked by such groups were encountering an organizational level to which they could not, alone, respond. The IFAN works to address the need for support and eliminate the sense of isolation that so often plagues librarians who find themselves in the eye of the censorship storm.

All librarians and supporters of intellectual freedom should join the Action IFAN (see How to Join the Intellectual Freedom Action Network below).

What Intellectual Freedom Action Network Members are Expected to Do

  • Read the local newspapers and watch local TV programs for incidents of censorship, and report them to OIF.
  • Monitor e-lists and computer bulletin boards, looking for incidents of censorship and information on pressure groups that are forming in their areas. Report this information to OIF.
  • Lend support to someone who is facing a challenge
  • Respond to requests from OIF for support on controversies in your area.
  • Tell others about the Intellectual Freedom Action Network.

How to Join the Intellectual Freedom Action Network

For more information on how to join the Intellectual Freedom Action Network, contact Nanette Perez at 800-545-2433, ext. 4223; e-mail:

Intellectual Freedom Action News

The Intellectual Freedom Action News (formerly Memorandum) (ISSN 0734-3086) was published monthly by the American Library Association’s Office for Intellectual Freedom. IFAN ceased publication with the June/July/August 1999 issue.  This service was replaced by IFACTION.


IFACTION is the news-only, no-discussion e-list of the Intellectual Freedom Action Network (IFAN) and the Office for Intellectual Freedom (OIF).

IFACTION helps to fulfill OIF's goal “to educate librarians and the general public about the nature and importance of intellectual freedom in libraries”  and to keep IFAN members informed. To that end, several intellectual freedom news items are posted daily.

IFACTION attempts to inform its subscribers by:

  • Posting a wide variety of articles and information on intellectual freedom issues of interest to its subscribers, primarily librarians;
  • Posting information on intellectual freedom issues that may not have another venue; and
  • Posting information that indicates intellectual freedom principles and concerns are not just held by the library profession, but also by youth and others in the general public.

Visit IFACTION for instructions on how to subscribe and unsubscribe from IFACTION, and to receive IFACTION in digest form or to review the IFACTION archive.

Links to non-ALA sites have been provided because these sites may have information of interest. Neither the American Library Association nor the Office for Intellectual Freedom necessarily endorses the views expressed or the facts presented on these sites; and furthermore, ALA and OIF do not endorse any commercial products that may be advertised or available on these sites.