caution tape on bookshelves

LIS Issues Statement on Intellectual Freedom

“We believe rather that what people read is deeply important; that ideas can be dangerous; but that the suppression of ideas is fatal to a democratic society. Freedom itself is a dangerous way of life, but it is ours.” The Freedom to Read Statement, a joint statement by the American Library Association and the Association of American Publishers


The LIS Program publicly affirms our strong commitment to intellectual freedom as stated in the ALA’s Library Bill of Rights and Freedom to Read Statement. These statements build on basic freedoms expressed in the U.S. Constitution’s First Amendment, Article III of both the 1864 and 1887 Constitutions of the Hawaiian Kingdom, as well as Article I Section 4 of the Hawaiʻi State Constitution and Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights

Everyone has a right to freely express their ideas and thoughts. Freedom of expression is a basic human right, guaranteed by the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. It is globally recognized and codified in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Our history of suppression of opinions, language, culture, and democratic society teaches us the importance of this fundamental right as human dignity (the 1864 Ke Kumukānāwai o ka Makahiki). 

What we often overlook is that freedom of speech cannot be fully exercised without protecting the right of people to receive information. We are concerned and distressed about the recent surge of organized censors and other individuals’ efforts to deprive people of intellectual freedom.

The LIS Program faculty and students are aware that we, information professionals, are in the frontlines of preserving freedom of expression, and that advocating for these freedoms comes with responsibilities. However, in the past, we have observed many incidents in which individual librarians sacrificed their own careers to protect their patrons’ right to read. But we also have learned that the most effective defense of freedom of expression is solidarity in support of the freedom to read. 

We encourage our alumni, colleagues, and friends to join Unite Against Book Bans and other organizations that encourage resisting censorship of library materials, which we see as a rising threat to democracy. 

We strongly believe that libraries are best prepared to defend intellectual freedom when they are run by trained professionals who understand and follow transparent processes for responding to materials challenges. As LIS faculty, we strive to follow the ALISE Ethical Guidelines for Library and Information Science Educators, and make sure that our graduates are ready to advocate for key principles of intellectual freedom in both theory and ethical practice regardless of type of library or archival repository.