How Libraries Preserve Democracy

February 23, 2017 | Vickery Bowles

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Take a look around you on the subway, in a coffee shop or in any public space and you’ll see people consuming information, on devices or in books, as never before. 

The freedom to read – the freedom that connects us to our neighbours and to people across the country and around the world, the freedom that exposes us to diverse opinions and experiences – is so ingrained in our daily lives that we rarely, if ever, pause to consider its significance.

But a life without that freedom is unimaginable.

Intellectual freedom, including the freedom to read and express oneself while respecting individual rights to privacy and choice, is a core value for librarians, and is also the foundation of a democratic society.

It's a freedom that we'll stand up and defend whenever it's challenged. See for yourself some of the materials that have been challenged in Toronto over the years. 

Public libraries are welcoming, inclusive spaces that make available the widest diversity of opinions and perspectives, both in our collections and in our programs, including those that are unpopular, unconventional and even unacceptable to some.

Walk into any library or go online and explore our great collections. If we don't have the book or video you want, tell us and we'll order it. If an item offends you, let us know and we'll discuss it. But know that we'll always be here, welcoming you and connecting you to information and opinions as diverse as the world we live in. 

Freedom to Read Week takes place February 26 – March 4, 2017. Join us as we celebrate and affirm our commitment to intellectual freedom.

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