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Intellectual Freedom

OPL supports intellectual curiosity and enquiry. One of OPL’s core values is to support intellectual freedom: the free and open exchange of lawful information and ideas in a democratic society, respecting individuals' rights to privacy and choice.

Guiding Principles

  1. Ottawa Public Library (OPL) is committed to upholding the core tenet of intellectual freedom. The Library’s role is to act as a curator of information and a champion of information literacy. Its services are governed by applicable legislation, as well as its vision, mission, and values. OPL provides access to, but does not endorse, multiple viewpoints via its services (including collections, programs, displays, meeting room rentals, and Internet access).
  2. OPL supports unrestricted access to, and lawful use of, the Internet. Individuals accessing the Internet at the Library will not be prevented from accessing information that some may consider explicit or offensive.
  3. OPL welcomes open discussions about intellectual freedom, including challenges to the Library’s decisions. Individuals may challenge an item in the collection, program, display, or meeting room booking, or content viewed on the Internet in the Library. They may also appeal OPL’s decision regarding this challenge. To keep the conversation about intellectual freedom open, OPL will report on all challenges, provide training for trustees and employees, and develop a plan to support ongoing discussions about intellectual freedom in the community, working with key stakeholders.


This statement applies to all OPL services, including:

  1. Collections, including print and electronic materials for all ages, in a variety of formats, including materials that are purchased, streamed, or shared from or with other institutions (see the Content Services Framework);
  2. Library programs, including programs offered by staff, paid presenters and Library partners;
  3. Display spaces, including displaying community information on bulletin boards in branches (see the Display Space Policy and the Notice Board Policy);
  4. Public computers and networks, including legal uses of public PCs and Chromebooks available in OPL branches, and use of the OPL wifi network at all locations (see the Public Network Access Policy); and,
  5. Meeting rooms, including non-commercial and commercial rentals of meeting room spaces owned or operated by OPL (see the Meeting Room Booking Policy).

This statement does not apply to any expression or dissemination of views that violate applicable Canadian legislation, or activities that contravene applicable Canadian legislation. Such communications and activities are prohibited on library premises and may result in a person’s immediate expulsion from the premises and referral of the matter to the Ottawa Police Services.

Challenges and Appeals

Library cardholders may challenge to content in the collection, Library programs, display space, public computer or network access, or a meeting room booking by completing a Request for Reconsideration form on the Library’s website. Requests are reviewed by staff, and a written response is provided to the cardholder within 30 days of receiving the request for reconsideration.

Individuals can appeal a decision regarding a challenge in writing to the CEO, provided there is new pertinent information. A written response is provided to the cardholder within 30 days of receiving the appeal. The response to the appeal is OPL’s final decision, unless there is new information from a Canadian court of law (e.g.: a legal ruling).

A list of challenges received, and OPL’s responses, will be presented to the Library Board annually, commonly during Freedom to Read Month (February).

Related Statements

OPL endorses the following statements regarding intellectual freedom:

  1. Canadian Federation of Library Associations (CFLA) Statement on Intellectual Freedom; and,
  2. Ontario Library Association Statement on Intellectual Freedom and the Intellectual Rights of the Individual.

Approved by the Ottawa Public Library Board on June 14, 2022.