Intellectual Freedom and Minors (Argument for Intellectual Freedom for…
Intellectual Freedom and Minors
Intro: Defining Intellectual Freedom
Intellectual freedom is the idea that all people should have open access to information in order to become informed citizens of society (Bucher & Manning, 2007).
ALA supports this right, and feels it has a special obligation to make sure this exists as part of Freedom of Speech First Amendment rights (ALA, n.d.)]
Patrons should be free to pursue this right, but technology makes it challenging, especially for minors (Childs, 2017)
Courts didn’t recognize minors’ First Amendment rights until 1943. And the courts are still split between granting minors those rights, and restricting them (Stripling, et al, 2010),
Current Climate Towards Minors and Intellectual Freedom
Courts have tried to regulate minors access to information, especially since the internet has become more prevalent. Passed Communications Decency Act, which was struck down (Stevens, 1997) and then the Children's Internet Protection Act in 2001, which was upheld in 2003 (FCC, n. d.)
In 2015, more than half of adults believed that while no book should be banned completely, libraries should regulate what minors check out (Reichman 2015)
Schools "self censor" by not ordering books they believe will be controversial. There are also sites like Common Sense Media help parents find "appropriate" material, and are often cited in censorship complaint
Parents have the right to regulate for their children, but when a parent takes that right and extends it to all children -- deciding that what goes against their personal beliefs must negatively impact all minors -- that is censorship, and effectively restricts a minor’s right to open access (Bucher & Manning, 2007)
Argument for Intellectual Freedom for Minors
“A culture of intellectual freedom, through equitable access and freedom of expression, empowers individuals and even schools to grow and change.“ (Stripling, 2015, p. 16)
ALA recognizes that while internet filters may “protect” minors from undesirable elements and guard their privacy, they they restrict the minor’s freedom of expression and do not for open access to information (Stripling et al 2010).
"Librarians function as rights facilitators, providing the means by which patrons can access information and utilize this aspect of freedom of speech” (Oltmann, 2016 p. 162).
Children are developing cognitively, and need open access to help them develop the ability to think abstractly and make moral judgements (Bucher & Manning, 2007).
Intellectual freedom is important for minors in this technological era, and the library is not only crucial, but central to making sure the idea of intellectual freedom is preserved (Jensen, 2014).
Minors, Intellectual Freedom, and Libraries
There is a need for minors to understand that the library is a place where they can have an open access to information, and librarians can empower them by educating them on how best to protect that right (Jensen, 2014)
Libraries are advocates for minors and support their desire to have access to information, as well as being prepared to defend them (Collins, 2017).
It’s important to educate and promote the value of intellectual freedom to the community, so they understand its importance (Jensen, 2014) and can respect the rights of minors to have the same open access to information.
Policies need to be in place to protect minors' First Amendment rights as well as encouraging social and online responsibility in minors (Stripling, 2015).
Observations on the research
It seems most of the research done on intellectual freedom and minors is by school librarians. Not much done on a truly scholarly level. Perhaps because the rights of kids are complex?
Balancing privacy with open access is tricky for minors. Privacy usually wins.
There's not much done balancing the future of technology with the rights of minors to access information. Will filters become more prevalent? Will it be solely up to parents? How will libraries handle material challenges in the future?
With social media and "fake news", is intellectual freedom even that important to anyone anymore? Or is there just a glut of information that it doesn't matter if someone's access is restricted?