Saturday, September 02, 2006

645: Lecture Notes-- Week 1: Intellectual Freedom Today

Week 1-- Lecture Notes: Intellectual Freedom Today

  • Why Intellectual Freedom and Librarians/Libraries?
  • Why is this course of interest to you?
  • Hot topics in the news: Look anywhere and you will find these issues.

Welcome to the fall semester and our work together. I'm delighted to be teaching this course. Let me suggest that you take a look at my vita for something on my background and experience. Of most importance for this class is my continuing interest and commitment to the principles of intellectual freedom and the role of librarians in their local settings and in professional leadership. Intellectual freedom is often misunderstood and sometimes underestimated in importance. Why do librarians make such a big deal, actually offer a class on the subject? Is intellectual freedom so important? What about intellectual property rights and national security? Why don't we put intellectual freedom on the back burner in order to protect valid intellectual property rights and to assure national security? Why should we not curtail our speech and expression in a time of terrorism?

The way I see it, librarians have a special angle on these issues. We have a point of view that comes from seeing from inside the power of information, knowledge, learning, and understanding. We know the power of words and the importance of protecting personal expression and public speech. Think about your own unique experiences that have brought you to this class. Why do you care about intellectual freedom? In this class you will be able to learn some of the basics of the traditions and current controversies. You will be able to put your learning together in your own personal way to guide your professional practice. This course is for you and your professional development as well as for all of you as a group. We learn by being willing to share our understanding and perspectives and sometimes to disagree with each other. Let's try to learn ways to discuss controversial issues in a respective manner. As professionals in the field, we will be called upon to offer calm, informed leadership to staff, within professional associations, and to the public. In this class we will help each other with preparations for these challenging opportunities.

What are the key issues for you?

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