Publication spotlight: Journal of Intellectual Freedom and Privacy

The Journal of Intellectual Freedom and Privacy is a recent and timely journal established in 2016 that provides both scholarly research and other forms of commentary on intellectual freedom and privacy matters. It is the official journal of the American Library Association’s Office of Intellectual Freedom and is a broader continuation of their former Newsletter of Intellectual Freedom.

I spoke with one of the Editors, Shannon Oltmann, who is an associate professor in the School of Information Science at the University of Kentucky, to learn more about the journal and get a better understanding of its purpose and influence.

LIS Wiki: Why was this journal created?

Shannon: We wanted a space to bring together scholarly research on intellectual freedom, relevant book reviews, commentaries from practicing librarians, and news updates related to intellectual freedom. This journal combines all of these features. We think each aspect is greatly needed by the library profession.

LIS Wiki: And so what specifically do you believe this journal provides to the LIS profession?

Shannon: There is relatively little scholarly research done on topics pertaining to intellectual freedom and privacy, even though these are core values of the profession and fundamental principles that guide most of our decision-making. The Journal of Intellectual Freedom and Privacy is the premier place for such research, which can inform and shape actions and decisions in libraries and other information spaces. By offering a venue for intellectual freedom and privacy research, we can encourage and promote more of it. Similarly, we review scholarly books pertaining to these topics to keep librarians informed of additional resources in this area.

LIS Wiki: You also publish commentaries/opinion pieces; can you tell us more about those aspects of the publication?

Shannon: The Journal of Intellectual Freedom and Privacy publishes commentaries by librarians (and others) about intellectual freedom and privacy topics—these are shorter think pieces and essays designed to generate discussion and thought about the contexts and contours of intellectual freedom and privacy. This is a good option for individuals who don’t want or need to write a full-length peer-reviewed article, but still have something valuable to say about these principles.

In each issue we do a round-up of news, including relevant court cases, pertaining to intellectual freedom, censorship, freedom of speech, privacy, and related issues. This is done to create a comprehensive collection of this news, which otherwise would be spread across the country. We also create this round-up to keep librarians and others informed of the current (and future) state of our freedoms.

LIS Wiki: Why are the subjects of intellectual freedom and privacy so important, especially now?

Shannon: We believe this space—where intellectual freedom and privacy are discussed and valued—is essential for librarians, researchers, and our broader communities. These principles are frequently under attack, yet they form the foundation of our modern democracy. The Journal of Intellectual Freedom and Privacy is a journal in which we can theorize and discuss these principles from scholarly and practical perspectives, all to inform librarians’ and scholars’ day to day activities.

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