Happy National Library Week! For the past few weeks, this blog has featured its first mini-series, looking at the rights and freedoms Libraries across America (including Lower Macungie Library!) guarantee you, and stand for. Wrapping up this series is the Freedom to Read Statement, a Statement largely written by the American Library Association, but endorsed and supported by numerous other foundations, groups, and councils.
This Statement lists seven propositions as goals and freedoms to all readers and information seekers:
- It is in the public interest for publishers and librarians to make available the widest diversity of views and expressions, including those that are unorthodox, unpopular, or considered dangerous by the majority.
- Publishers, librarians, and booksellers do not need to endorse every idea or presentation they make available. It would conflict with the public interest for them to establish their own political, moral, or aesthetic views as a standard for determining what should be published or circulated.
- It is contrary to the public interest for publishers or librarians to bar access to writings on the basis of the personal history or political affiliations of the author.
- There is no place in our society for efforts to coerce the taste of others, to confine adults to the reading matter deemed suitable for adolescents, or to inhibit the efforts of writers to achieve artistic expression.
- It is not in the public interest to force a reader to accept the prejudgment of a label characterizing any expression or its author as subversive or dangerous.
- It is the responsibility of publishers and librarians, as guardians of the people’s freedom to read, to contest encroachments upon that freedom by individuals or groups seeking to impose their own standards or tastes upon the community at large; and by the government whenever it seeks to reduce or deny public access to public information.
- It is the responsibility of publishers and librarians to give full meaning to the freedom to read by providing books that enrich the quality and diversity of thought and expression. By the exercise of this affirmative responsibility, they can demonstrate that the answer to a “bad” book is a good one, the answer to a “bad” idea is a good one.
The largest theme between the Library Bill of Rights, the Code of Ethics, and this Freedom to Read is that one of the cornerstones of a democratic society is the freedom to information of all types, for all users. “We here [at Lower Macungie Library] stake out a lofty claim for the value of the written word…we believe…that what people read is deeply important; that ideas can be dangerous; but that the suppression of ideas is fatal to a democratic society.”
Hopefully this series in celebration of National Library Week has helped you understand a little more about how vital Libraries are to our society as a whole. Join us in celebrating our freedoms and the Library, not just this week, but year round.