Declaration for the Right to Libraries: National Library Week 2014

The University of Michigan Library started National Library Week 2014 with an inspiring talk from current American Library Association President, Barbara Stripling.  The town hall discussion, held in the Hatcher Library Gallery space, was attended by library staff members and School of Information students.  There was a engaged dialogue between audience members and Dr. Stripling as she reviewed the 10 tenets of the Declaration.   (Dr. Stripling also spoke Monday evening at the Ann Arbor District Library’s Downtown location about Why Libraries are here to Stay.  This event was recorded and the video will be posted here when it is ready.)  The remainder of this post highlights key points from her talk related to each of the Declaration’s tenets.

Declaration for the Right to Libraries
Declaration for the Right to Libraries (2014) by ALA Advocacy

Tenet 1: Libraries empower the individual

Individuals are the point of change in libraries and we need to retool our libraries to address their needs.  Collections should reflect the populations coming into our library spaces and we need to ask individuals what they want and need from their library and not just make assumptions about desired services.  Additionally, libraries and membership organizations also need to continue to work on diversifying the profession and.

Tenet 2: Libraries support literacy and lifelong learning

Inquiry is different in the digital world and individuals are now empowered by information available in multiple source modes.  Libraries should be a resource for guiding individuals towards good information without bias and strive to remove access barriers to information.

Tenet 3: Libraries strengthen families

This is not an issue that is silo-ed only to public libraries.

Tenet 4: Libraries are the great equalizer

Enabling equitable access to resources is a major component of librarianship.

Tenet 5: Libraries build communities

Public, school, and academic libraries all need to continue their efforts to engage their community beyond the library walls in conversations.  Libraries need to turn outward to engage new community members in discussions about library services and encourage participation in library sponsored events.

Tenet 6: Libraries protect our right to know

University of Michigan Library’s Dean James Hilton spoke about individual privacy in libraries and said it is important to realize that when we begin discussing privacy, we need to go into these discussions with the idea that we don’t understand it at all.  Dr. Stripling encouraged the audience to read Danah Boyd’s It’s Complicated: The Social Lives of Networked Teens to get an in-depth perspective on what it means to have privacy in the digital age.

Tenet 7: Libraries strengthen our nation

Libraries need to encourage connections across boundaries, especially in online arenas and between affinity groups.

Tenet 8: Libraries advance research and scholarship

How do we address information abundance?  How do we encourage people to skip to the best available information in a overly-saturated information world.

Tenet 9: Libraries help us to better understand each other

How do we challenge social inequality and discrimination?

Tenet 10: Libraries preserve our nation’s cultural heritage

How do we empower community members to tell their stories?  We need to remind individuals that cultural heritage does not just exist in the past.  Dr. Stripling shared stories about libraries who have held Human Book events as part of the Human Library movement. If you want to show your support for the Declaration for the Right to Libraries, please follow this link and sign the declaration.

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