Intellectual Freedom Manual

Eighth Edition | Updates to the Seventh Edition | References Found in the Seventh Edition | References Found in the Fifth Edition |  Revisions to ALA Intellectual Freedom Policies (June 30, 2004, and January 19, 2005) |  Purchase the Intellectual Freedom Manual from ALA Store

The Intellectual Freedom Manual, fifth edition, was published in 1996; the sixth edition, in October 2001; the seventh, in January 2006; the eighth, in 2010. Check out the companion website to the Eighth edition for more information.   

Information on previous editions

Seventh edition


This manual is designed to answer practical questions that confront librarians in applying the principles of intellectual freedom to library service. It is our hope that every librarian will keep the Intellectual Freedom Manual close at hand as a convenient reference work. If, for example, a librarian wants to know what the American Library Association (ALA) can do to help resist censorship of library materials, how to handle complaints, or how to write an appropriate letter to legislators, help can be found in the Intellectual Freedom Manual. If the problem is complex—for example, the development of a materials selection program—practical guidelines on how to tackle the problem are offered.

Part I of the manual explains the meaning of intellectual freedom in library service and how today's broad concept of intellectual freedom evolved from opposition to book censorship. It also includes an overview of today's issues and the challenges they present, ranging from the Internet to privacy and confidentiality. Part II,  Library Bill of Rights, and Part III, Protecting the Freedom to Read, present the texts and historical development of ALA's intellectual freedom policies and guidelines (the Interpretations of the Library Bill of Rights are arranged in alphabetical order, for convenient reference), and give concrete examples of problems librarians can expect to encounter or should anticipate in formulating policy for their own institutions.

New to this edition of the manual is "Privacy; an Interpretation of the Library Bill of Rights," articles on "Minor's First Amendment Rights to Access Information," "Public Libraries and the Public Forum Doctrine," and Privacy (Part III), as well as historical information about the Code of Ethics. In addition two new appendixes have been added: Guide to Navigating the OIF website and a Glossary. To accommodate this new material, several articles from the previous edition, as well as some original new material prepared in conjunction with this 7th edition, can now be found below. It is suggested that you check here regularly to find the latest news on these evolving issues, as well as to monitor changes in ALA policies.

Applying the principles and guidelines in this manual cannot ensure that the rights of librarians and users will never be challenged or that difficulties will not arise. But adhering to these principles in every library is absolutely essential if librarians and users are to enjoy the full benefit of freedom of expression under the First Amendment.

Judith F. Krug, Director
Office for Intellectual Freedom

Supplemental material

Questions and Answers on Privacy and Confidentiality: The IFC developed this Q&A to work in conjunction with Privacy: An Interpretation of the Library Bill of Rights. Revised April 14, 2005; June 26, 2006; October 30, 2006.

RFID in Libraries: Privacy and Confidentiality Guidelines: Adopted by the Intellectual Freedom Committee, Tuesday, June 27, 2006.

Resolution on the Retention of Library Usage Records: Adopted by the ALA Council, Wednesday, June 28, 2006.

Questions & Answers on Librarian Speech in the Workplace: Adopted July 2001; Amended January 2004, June 26, 2006, January 24, 2007.

Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, and Transgender Tool Kit

Resolution on the Use and Abuse of National Security Letters, Adopted unanimously, June 27, 2007.

New to the Manual

Privacy; an Interpretation of the Library Bill of Rights

Minor's First Amendment Rights to Access Information by Theresa Chmara (IF Manual only)

Public Libraries and the Public Forum Doctrine by Theresa Chmara (IF Manual only)

Historical information about the Code of Ethics

Part III, Chapter 4. Policies and Statements Related to Access to Information and Library Services

Questions and Answers on Labels and Rating Systems

Resolution in Support of Academic Freedom

Part III, Chapter 5. Policies and Statements Related to Confidentiality, Privacy, and Government Intimidation

Resolution on the USA PATRIOT Act Reauthorization

Resolution on the Use and Abuse of National Security Letters (June 27, 2007)

Part III, Chapter 6. Guidelines, Resolutions, and Statements Related to the Internet

No updates as of 1/30/06

Part III, Chapter 7. Statements and Documents Related to Library Resources

Resolution on New Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Rules and Media Concentration

Fostering Media Diversity in Libraries: Strategies and Actions (PDF; June 2007)

Evolving issues

Academic Freedom (Intellectual Freedom Issue)

Glossary (pages 495-496)

IF Manual only; however, see Equality and Equity of Access: What's the Difference? by Nancy Kranich.


References found in the Seventh Edition

Lessons School Librarians Teach Others (PDF) by Doug Johnson: "We teach our library users to be able to evaluate information for themselves. Were I the Grand Panjandrum of Libraries, I would instantly add Johnson's IXth Statement to ALA's Code of Ethics: We teach our library users to be critical users of information."—Doug Johnson, director of media and technology for the Mankato (Minn.) Area Public Schools, from "Lessons School Librarians Teach Others," first published in American Libraries, December 2004, pp. 46-48.  This article is based on an essay he wrote for Ethics in School Librarianship: A Reader, Carol Simpson, editor (Linworth, 2003). He has made other ethics materials for school librarians available at

Equality and Equity of Access: What's the Difference? by Nancy Kranich.


References found in the Sixth Edition

ALA Intellectual Freedom Policies and the First Amendment by Bruce J. Ennis


References found in the Fifth Edition

Academic Libraries and Intellectual Freedom by Barbara M. Jones

Federal Libraries and Intellectual Freedom by Bernadine Abbott Hoduski

Public Libraries and Intellectual Freedom by Gordon M. Conable

School Library Media Centers and Intellectual Freedom by Dianne McAfee Hopkins

State Library Agencies and Intellectual Freedom by Diana Young