The Intellectual Freedom Festival Is Here!

Intellectual Freedom Festival

I’m so excited I can hardly stand it – the Intellectual Freedom Festival kicks off this Friday at the Iowa City Public Library!  The Fest is co-sponsored by the University of Iowa Library and Information Science Student Organization (LISSO), and the U of I Obermann Center for Advanced Studies.

What is Intellectual Freedom?

Intellectual Freedom is a basic human right, defined by Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights adopted by the United Nations General Assembly in 1948. The American Library Association affirms Intellectual Freedom as a basis for our democratic system and recognizes the important role libraries play in Intellectual Freedom issues. To be responsible citizens who have the ability to self-govern, we must be well-informed. Libraries provide information, ideas and resources in a variety of formats, enabling an informed citizenry.

About the Intellectual Freedom Festival

In 1995, the Iowa City Public Library established the annual Carol Spaziani Intellectual Freedom Festival to honor Carol’s 26-year career at ICPL and life-long commitment to the freedom of ideas. Spaziani believes the public library’s role is to be a resource and a forum for an individual’s pursuit and expression of diverse points of view. A Library committee monitors current intellectual freedom issues and plans programs of interest for area residents. This year the Library is collaborating with the UI School of Library and Information Science on Freedom Festival programs.

If You Go:

Film Screening: Bloody Cartoons: Freedom of Expression and the Clash of Cultures.
7 p.m. Friday, Sept. 25, Meeting Room A

iffbloodycartoonsBloody Cartoons is a documentary about how and why 12 drawings in a Danish provincial paper could whirl a small country into a confrontation with Muslims all over the world. The filmmaker asks whether respect for Islam combined with the heated response to the cartoons is now leading us towards self-censorship. How tolerant should we be, he wonders, of the intolerant. And what limits should there be, if any, to freedom of speech in a democracy.

Brownbag Lunch: Public Libraries, Budget Cuts and Intellectual Freedom: A Conversation about the State of Iowa Libraries.
Noon Wednesday, Sept. 30, Meeting Room A

The panel includes:

  • Nick Shimmin – West Branch Public Library
  • Jennie Garner – North Liberty Community Library
  • Barb Black – Iowa City Public Library
  • Mike Jorgensen – Coralville Public Library
  • Jason Paulious – Iowa City Public Library
  • Mike Wright – University of Iowa Library

Brownbag Lunch: What Producing, Sampling, Remixing and Broadcasting have to teach us about copyright and the freedom to create: Intellectual Freedom Remix feat. Tack-Fu, the Chaircrusher, Pirate Radio and Kembrew McLeod.
Noon Wednesday, Oct. 7, Meeting Room A

tack_catholicMusic, film, books and other media have become imminently shareable with the advent of internet broadband communications. Some artists see this as a threat to their rights under copyright law, while a counter-movement of artists argues that strict copyright laws stifle intellectual freedom and creativity.

Kembrew McLeod is a Professor of Communications at the University of Iowa and an activist for copyright reform and creative commons licensing. He has copyrighted the phrase “Freedom of Expression” as a statement about the chilling effects of current copyright laws in the U.S. (

Tack-Fu and the Chaircrusher are local hip-hop producers who live by their own set of rules for sampling other musicians’ work to create new and innovative music. (

Pirate Radio broadcasts music, talk, poetry, radio drama (an original is currently in production), and even weekly bedtime stories from Iowa City. They work independently of the FCC, which is the federal department that determines who is eligible for broadcasting licenses.

Criticism in the (Digital) Public Sphere, Discussing Books in the Age of New Media: Humanities Symposium with the University of Iowa Obermann Center for Advanced Studies.
7 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 15, Meeting Room A

The panel includes:

  • Scott McLemee, Essayist at Large, Inside Higher Ed. (
  • Christopher Merrill, Professor of English and Director of the International Writing Program, University of Iowa. “Reviewing Books for PRI’s The World” (
  • Meena Kandsamy, author, translator, and participant in the 2009 International Writing Program “Meena Kandsamy: A blog by a 24-year-old Tamil woman obsessed with Dr. Ambedkar’s dream of caste annihilation.” (

This panel is co-sponsored by the International Writing Program, UI Libraries, the UI Press, the UI Center for the Book, the Department of History and the Department of English.


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