Open access – standing order

This post brings to a (temporary) close my examination of some of the issues surrounding intellectual freedom and libraries, with special attention to the USA Patriot Act. I invite you to peruse the postings, follow the links, and review the sources that I have compiled over this past month.

Although the main focus of this blog has been the Patriot Act and its affect on intellectual freedom in libraries, it also encompasses issues of intellectual freedom that are much broader. Questions of freedom of expression, invasion of privacy, and due process – in other words, the First, Fourth and Fifth Amendments to the US Constitution – are necessarily embedded in all aspects of civil society. And libraries are among the bedrock institutions of civil society.

To close, therefore, I can think of no better quotation than that of James Madison, the ‘father of the Constitution,’ and fourth president of the United States:

“A popular government without popular information, or the means of acquiring it, is but a prologue to a farce or a tragedy, or perhaps both. Knowledge will forever govern ignorance, and a people who mean to be their own governors must arm themselves with the power which knowledge gives.”


Joan C. Durrance, Karen Pettigrew, Michael Jourdan, Karen Scheuerer. “Libraries and Civil Society,” in Libraries: The Cornerstone of Democracy, Nancy Kranich, Chicago: American Library Association, 2001. Online. Available

James Madison to W.T. Barry. Writings 9:103-9. The Founders’ Constitution, Epilogue: Securing the Republic. Online (April 23, 2007) Available

Explore posts in the same categories: Patriot Act and Libraries

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