Magazine article American Libraries

Our Shared Responsibility: Working Together for Advocacy

Magazine article American Libraries

Our Shared Responsibility: Working Together for Advocacy

Article excerpt

There is a provocative saying attributed to the 20th-century Polish writer Stanislaw Lec: Each snowflake in an avalanche pleads not guilty. Library workers share the responsibility to advocate for libraries and to advance information policies that enable those we serve to be successful.

The 120,000 libraries of all types across the United States--public, school, academic, government, special--are an essential component of the national information infrastructure, and library workers are critical leaders in their communities. We stand for individual rights, democracy, diversity, intellectual freedom, and social responsibility. We are trusted, helping to address community concerns and needs, and championing our core values. We are safe spaces. We are exciting places.

Libraries support literacy in all its elements. They bring access to basic and emerging technologies and the education for their effective use; provide a wide range of information resources, community knowledge, and expert information professionals; convene people around ideas and creative experiences; serve the homeless, veterans, immigrants, prisoners, and the many individuals seeking to improve their lives. And by doing all of this, 21st-century libraries transform communities, promote economic development, facilitate learning and personal growth, and bridge the digital divide in this country, remaining committed to equity of access.

We must maintain and expand federal investment in our nation's libraries, including funding for literacy programs and universal broadband and wireless service and deployment in libraries and schools, with a special focus on underserved communities in our cities and rural areas. Libraries must look beyond the programs and the funding, forging radical new partnerships with the First Amendment, civil rights, and technology communities to advance our information policy interests and our commitment to freedom, diversity, and social justice. …

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