Intellectual Freedom Policy

Authority

The Library Board of Queensland.

Scope

Public policy

Purpose

Intellectual freedom, the freedom to seek, receive and impart information and ideas, is a fundamental human right, enshrined in enduring international statements and instruments endorsed by Australia, and is vital to a thriving democratic society and culture.

Existing to support the free flow of information and ideas, libraries have a special responsibility to oppose the infringement of intellectual freedom, including infringement by omission – neglect of the needs of individuals and communities – and by commission – exclusion, the violation of privacy and censorship.

This policy outlines how the State Library of Queensland addresses this responsibility.

Principles

Equitable access

Through its own services and as a partner to, and advocate for, Queensland public libraries SLQ works to ensure that all Queenslanders have access to library services that empower, stimulate and enrich.

Priorities integral to this objective are:

  • overcoming the impacts of remoteness, disability, poverty and other forms of disadvantage
  • developing inclusive library services, which effectively address diverse needs, affirm and strengthen individual identities, and foster tolerance and appreciation of difference.

Privacy

The right to seek, receive and impart information and ideas free from surveillance is fundamental to intellectual freedom. Notwithstanding exceptional requirements under law:

  • surveillance of clients is strictly limited to the requirements of maintaining a safe and welcoming environment at SLQ;
  • personal information is collected, used and disclosed strictly subject to the consent of the person that the information is about.

Censorship

SLQ acquires and provides access to material in order to ensure that the range of needs and interests within the community are equitably addressed, and to ensure representation of a diversity of perspectives on any particular subject. This principle is subject only to exceptional requirements under law. Personal views or values, or any perception of the potential of material to offend or cause controversy, do not limit what materials SLQ acquires and makes accessible.

SLQ does not filter content retrieved through its Internet connections, recognising that automatic content filtering is a form of censorship.1

However, conditions are placed on children’s access to the Internet, as required under law.

Without resorting to censorship SLQ protects its clients from risk of offence by:

  • empowering clients to search for information effectively;
  • requiring all clients to be mindful of the possible sensitivities of others.

Supporting documents

Human rights

Universal Declaration of Human Rights General Assembly of the United Nations.
1948. http://www.un.org/Overview/rights.html (accessed 16/12/15)

International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights Assembly of the United Nations.
1966. http://www.ohchr.org/en/professionalinterest/pages/ccpr.aspx (accessed 16/12/15)

Intellectual freedom

Statement on free access to information Australian Library and Information Association.
2001. http://www.alia.org.au/about-alia/policies-standards-and-guidelines/statement-free-access-information (accessed 16/12/15)

Statement on Libraries and Intellectual Freedom International Federation of Library Associations.
2003. http://www.ifla.org/faife/policy/iflastat/iflastat.htm (accessed 16/12/15)

Privacy

Information Privacy Act 2009 https://www.legislation.qld.gov.au/legisltn/acts/2009/09ac014.pdf (accessed 16/12/15)

Libraries and Privacy Guidelines Australian Library and Information Association, 2005
http://www.alia.org.au/about-alia/policies-and-guidelines/alia-policies/libraries-and-privacy-guidelines. (accessed 16/12/15)

Internet filtering

Statement on online content regulation Australian Library and Information Association. 2002.
http://www.alia.org.au/about-alia/policies-standards-and-guidelines/alia-online-content-regulation (accessed 16/12/15)

The IFLA Internet Manifesto International Federation of Library Associations. 2002.
http://www.ifla.org/III/misc/im-e.htm (accessed 16/12/15)

Related State Library policies

Content Strategy
Responsible Conduct Policy
Service Level Agreements (with Local Governments)
Public Access Computer Facilities Policy
Code of Conduct for the Queensland Public Service (for SLQ employees)

1. The scope of this policy provision is public access Internet in SLQ. Internet filtering by a local government, library or Indigenous Knowledge Centre does not preclude or limit SLQ cooperating with the local government, library service or other third party

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