Intellectual Freedom at TPL

Toronto Public Library is committed to protecting and defending intellectual freedom across our collections, programs and spaces.

Libraries are facing increasing intellectual freedom challenges on a wide range of issues, not just with physical materials like books and movies, but also with programs, e-content, Internet access, room bookings and exhibits. Intellectual freedom challenges can limit access to information, suppress civic engagement, and silence voices, especially those of more marginalized communities. These challenges are coming from all sides of the political and social spectrum.

Here's what TPL is doing to protect your intellectual freedom:

We've joined the Book Sanctuary Movement

Logo for the Book Sanctuary

TPL is proud to join the Book Sanctuary movement, declaring all of our spaces – in our 100 branches and online – as Book Sanctuaries. Simply put, whether in branches or online, TPL is a safe space for all stories and ideas.

A Book Sanctuary is a physical or digital space that actively protects the freedom to read.

Launched by Chicago Public Library in 2022, The Book Sanctuary initiative brings attention to challenged titles, and commits to making these books accessible.

Find out more about how you can get involved in the The Book Sanctuary Movement.

We've created The Book Sanctuary Collection

TPL's Book Sanctuary Collection display at the Toronto Reference Library

TPL's Book Sanctuary Collection represents books that have been challenged, censored or removed from a public library or school in North America. The 50 adult, teen and children's books in our collection are available for browsing and borrowing in our branches and online. A permanent Book Sanctuary Reference Collection is available at the Toronto Reference Library, making sure that you have access to all the titles any time. Explore the collection, either online or at Toronto Reference Library, to learn more about why these books were challenged.

Find out more about The Book Sanctuary Collection.

We've expanded our programming

Halves of four different faces are shown. The faces are making different expressions, such as surprised, happy and calm.

TPL's On Civil Society online and in-person program series pushes boundaries and explores our differences. Programs take you deeper in the issues affecting our world today and encourage you to take part in conversations where you can expect to challenge your own perspectives and learn from one another through civil discourse.

This year, we're announcing a new stream of On Civil Society programs dedicated to exploring and discussing topics related to intellectual freedom. The first event of the series took place on February 23 with Director of the Bodleian Libraries and Head of Gardens Libraries and Museums at the University of Oxford, Richard Ovenden, at the Bram and Bluma Appel Salon. A replay of this event is available on our YouTube channel. This new series is generously supported by the Toronto Public Library Foundation.

Find out more about upcoming On Civil Society events and stay tuned for upcoming announcements.

We're giving you more insight

TPL strives to ensure transparency in everything we do and that we consistently apply the principles of intellectual freedom across all of our collections, programs and spaces.

Find out more about the basic principles that guide our work around intellectual freedom:

What is intellectual freedom?

Intellectual freedom is the right of every individual to both seek and receive information from all points of view without restriction. It provides for free access to all expressions of ideas through which any and all sides of a question, cause or movement may be explored. (American Library Association).