Today is Human Rights Day, the anniversary of the signing of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in 1948.

In a message sent to IFLA members today, IFLA Secretary General Gerald Leitner underlined that it is an important day for everyone who cares about the principles the Declaration contains, but has particular relevance for libraries.

Through their work to deliver intellectual freedom – including freedom of access to information and freedom of expression – our institutions help deliver on rights around the world. This both represents a unique strength, but also creates a responsibility.

As set out in IFLA’s Intellectual Freedom Statement, which turned 20 in March of this year, libraries have a duty to safeguard this freedom in their own practices and as far as possible in their outward facing advocacy.

As set out in the IFLA Global Vision, we must be champions of intellectual freedom. As a step towards this, IFLA is therefore launching its Intellectual Freedom Checklist today.

This is intended as a tool to help libraries, library and information workers and library associations break down the different elements of the Statement, assess what is going well or not, and reflect on what they – and IFLA – can do to promote its principles.

As the Chair of the Advisory Committee on Freedom of Access to Information and Freedom of Expression, Ellen Tise, has said:

The protection and promotion of intellectual freedom represents a core responsibility of libraries, as well as an area where they can make a real contribution to realising human rights. Twenty years on from its agreement, IFLA’s Intellectual Freedom statement continues to provide both a reference, and a starting point for work to realise this potential.

Access the IFLA Intellectual Freedom Checklist.