Feb 17, 2023
Writing about human rights law and gender equality in 1987, retired Supreme Court Justice Rosalie Abella wrote that “equality is a process of constant and flexible examination, of vigilant introspection, and of aggressive open-mindedness." The same could be said of many of our freedoms in Canada, including the freedom to read, which we celebrate this week during Freedom to Read Week, February 19 to 25, 2023.
Access to information is at the very core of public libraries as underlined by the OPL Board’s approval of the revised Intellectual Freedom Position Statement in June 2022. OPL values curiosity and upholds intellectual freedom as essential for an informed, democratic society. OPL champions the free exchange of lawful information and ideas while working to counter misinformation and disinformation by selecting material according to professional guidelines, by fostering information literacy and critical thinking skills among readers, and by equipping citizens with the tools to navigate information.
OPL is proud to promote intellectual freedom, while not remaining unaware of its challenges. A commitment to intellectual freedom protects the voices, perspectives, and content that you may support or care about, as well as voices, perspectives, and content that you may find uncomfortable, or even offensive and hurtful. While intellectual freedom is not neutral, it is principled - and it is a core tenet of libraries that we can all take pride in defending. Exercising your freedom to read doesn’t end with reading: it is reinforced by thoughtful conversation, debate, and discussion. OPL welcomes respectful, open, and transparent discussions about intellectual freedom, and aims to ensure a balance of perspectives in its collections.
Freedom to Read Week is organized by the Book and Periodical Council’s Freedom of Expression Committee, to broaden awareness about censorship and challenges to books and magazines in Canada. Here’s how OPL is celebrating Freedom to Read Week 2023:
Visit your local branch to see displays of books that have been contested in North America. Make a button showing your support of the freedom to read and check out a banned book.
Resources to help spark conversations among all ages about controversial books: Freedom to Read: Online Resources / La liberté d’expression: ressources en ligne
Lists of banned books created by staff, including Freedom to Read/La liberté d' expression | Ottawa Public Library | BiblioCommons
Follow OPL on Instagram, Facebook or Twitter and join in the conversation about the freedom to read, encounter a diversity of ideas and the importance of intellectual freedom. You could win a limited-edition freedom to read t-shirt.