IFLA places the principles of freedom of access to information and freedom of expression at the heart of its Values, alongside wider human rights. We see these as essential for realising the potential of individuals and societies.

As set out in IFLA’s Global Vision, libraries should be champions of intellectual freedom. This involves not only ensuring access to diverse content, but also encouraging creativity and expression.

This activism is important. Too many face barriers to free access to information and expression, linked to factors such as a lack of reliable internet connectivity, skills gaps, an absence of information in relevant languages, or economic factors. Political tensions can also result in restrictions which inhibit freedom of access including censorship, internet shutdowns, or other interventions.

Beyond intellectual freedom, libraries can also be crucial to delivering on other rights, such as those to privacy, to education, to democratic participation and beyond.

In each case, IFLA works to help share information and insights, as well as developing statements, guidance and tools designed to help IFLA’s Members and others explore, understand and uphold these freedoms and rights in their work. We provide a forum for discussing the hard questions that can often come up when rights need to be balanced, or where they face opposition.

In parallel, IFLA engages in international discussions, notably at the United Nations’ Human Rights Council, and works with partner organisations to achieve shared goals.

IFLA’s work in this field primarily takes place through our Advisory Committee on Freedom of Access to Information and Freedom of Expression (FAIFE).