In honour of Barbara Stripling’s receipt of the ALA’s 2017 Joseph W. Lippincott Award for distinguished service to the profession of librarianship this post is dedicated to Libraries Change Lives: The Declaration for the Right to Libraries, an initiative which Dr. Stripling lead during her tenure as ALA President from 2013-2014. This document was designed to support a national campaign promoting America’s right to libraries of all types.
Given the funding challenges that libraries are currently facing this declaration is a strong reminder of why libraries matter. Libraries and the people who work in them strive to serve their communities in a number of valuable ways. Libraries exist to support the learning, growth, and development of the people who use them. A library is more than just a place to borrow a book. It is a place where a person can connect with their community and work toward achieving his or her dreams. The declaration outlines the value that libraries bring to society:
LIBRARIES EMPOWER THE INDIVIDUAL. Whether developing skills to succeed in school, looking for a job, exploring possible careers, having a baby, or planning retirement, people of all ages turn to libraries for instruction, support, and access to computers and other resources to help them lead better lives.
LIBRARIES SUPPORT LITERACY AND LIFELONG LEARNING. Many children and adults learn to read at their school and public libraries via story times, research projects, summer reading, tutoring and other opportunities. Others come to the library to learn the technology and information skills that help them answer their questions, discover new interests, and share their ideas with others.
LIBRARIES STRENGTHEN FAMILIES. Families find a comfortable, welcoming space and a wealth of resources to help them learn, grow and play together.
LIBRARIES ARE THE GREAT EQUALIZER. Libraries serve people of every age, education level, income level, ethnicity and physical ability. For many people, libraries provide resources that they could not otherwise afford – resources they need to live, learn, work and govern.
LIBRARIES BUILD COMMUNITIES. Libraries bring people together, both in person and online, to have conversations and to learn from and help each other. Libraries provide support for seniors, immigrants and others with special needs.
LIBRARIES PROTECT OUR RIGHT TO KNOW. Our right to read, seek information, and speak freely must not be taken for granted. Libraries and librarians actively defend this most basic freedom as guaranteed by the First Amendment.
LIBRARIES STRENGTHEN OUR NATION. The economic health and successful governance of our nation depend on people who are literate and informed. School, public, academic, and special libraries support this basic right.
LIBRARIES ADVANCE RESEARCH AND SCHOLARSHIP. Knowledge grows from knowledge. Whether doing a school assignment, seeking a cure for cancer, pursuing an academic degree, or developing a more fuel efficient engine, scholars and researchers of all ages depend on the knowledge and expertise that libraries and librarians offer.
LIBRARIES HELP US TO BETTER UNDERSTAND EACH OTHER. People from all walks of life come together at libraries to discuss issues of common concern. Libraries provide programs, collections, and meeting spaces to help us share and learn from our differences.
LIBRARIES PRESERVE OUR NATION’S CULTURAL HERITAGE. The past is key to our future. Libraries collect, digitize, and preserve original and unique historical documents that help us to better understand our past, present and future.
Declaration Available at http://www.ala.org/advocacy/declaration-right-libraries-text-only