What's at stake?

Four lines of text that begin with I’m all for free speech, but. The rest of the text has been redacted, concealed with bold black lines.

What’s at stake when voices are silenced, civil discourse erodes and access to information is narrowed? How are challenges to intellectual freedom shaping and impacting our way of life? How can we protect free thought and ideas?

Freedom of expression and information are being threatened in Canada and worldwide. Now is the time to have open, meaningful and respectful dialogue and debate about what’s at stake.

This fall, we’re starting these critical conversations with events, civil forums and installations. We invite you to challenge your perspectives, engage with new ideas, learn from one another and – most importantly – join the conversation.

Events and civil forums are part of our On Civil Society programming and generously funded in part by the Toronto Public Library Foundation.

Events and civil forums

Hear from thought-provoking guests — from global activists to warrior librarians and big tech whistleblowers to human rights leaders — who are defending intellectual freedom in the face of war, legal harassment, misinformation and censorship.

Want to delve deeper into the conversation? Participate in a civil forum. Held before select events, these moderated gatherings provide a space to ask questions, share opinions and experiences, and hear and learn from others.

All events and civil forums

Past events and civil forums

Stream recordings of past events and civil forums on demand.

Black and white headshot of City Librarian Vickery Bowles.

Reflections from the City Librarian

A message from Vickery Bowles about the importance of our new series and how libraries are uniquely positioned to host and facilitate these conversations.


Experience installations that explore what’s at stake when books are challenged or banned, and libraries are forced to limit their access to information, ideas and diversity of thought.

Reading lists

Delve deeper into what’s at stake when intellectual freedom is challenged with materials selected by our librarians.

The Book Sanctuary Collection

What is intellectual freedom?

According to the American Library Association, 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.

Additional resources

Learn how we’re protecting and defending intellectual freedom across our collections, programs and spaces.