The Library Bill of Rights

Over the past 6 weeks, the Faculty at Brookens Library developed a blog series expounding on each article of the Library Bill of Rights. Each of the 6 principles in the Library Bill of Rights broadly outlines an ideal that librarians support and upon which they model behavior, practice, and services. As with most ideals, pursuit of the tenets of the Library Bill of Rights is not an effortless task. 

The Library Bill of Rights:

The American Library Association affirms that all libraries are forums for information and ideas, and that the following basic policies should guide their services.

Below you will find each blog post published as a part of this series.

I: Books and other library resources should be provided for the interest, information, and enlightenment of all people of the community the library serves. Materials should not be excluded because of the origin, background, or views of those contributing to their creation.
https://brkfacultyfocus.wordpress.com/2017/03/08/the-library-bill-of-rights-week-

II: Libraries should provide materials and information presenting all points of view on current and historical issues. Materials should not be proscribed or removed because of partisan or doctrinal disapproval.
https://brkfacultyfocus.wordpress.com/2017/03/15/the-library-bill-or-rights-article-ll/

III. Libraries should challenge censorship in the fulfillment of their responsibility to provide information and enlightenment.
https://brkfacultyfocus.wordpress.com/2017/03/22/the-library-bill-of-rights-article-

IV: Libraries should cooperate with all persons and groups concerned with resisting abridgment of free expression and free access to ideas.
https://brkfacultyfocus.wordpress.com/2017/03/29/the-library-bill-of-rights-article-iv/

V: A person’s right to use a library should not be denied or abridged because of origin, age, background, or views.
https://brkfacultyfocus.wordpress.com/2017/04/05/the-library-bill-of-rights-article

VI: Libraries which make exhibit spaces and meeting rooms available to the public they serve should make such facilities available on an equitable basis, regardless of the beliefs or affiliations of individuals or groups requesting their use.

https://brkfacultyfocus.wordpress.com/2017/04/12/the-library-bill-of-rights-article-vi/

The Library Bill of Rights exists as an ethical statement – libraries are for the people, all of the people. Inclusion is at the heart of every library and librarians share a common set of principles about their work. During difficult times, it can be easy to forget what we stand for and The Library Bill of Rights acts as a steadfast reminder. In the simplest terms, libraries are inclusive spaces that foster access, preservation, freedom of expression, and community engagement.

Interpretations are often nuanced and incomplete. Over the last 6 weeks we’ve shared our interpretations of The Library Bill of Rights with you and now it’s your turn to join in the conversation. Do you believe that these tenets have stood the test of time? Do you see areas in which the core beliefs of academia and the core beliefs of libraries intersect?

Contact us if you’d like to share your interpretations of The Library Bill of Rights with our readers.

Written By: Nancy Weichert, Clinical Assistant Professor/ Instructional Services Librarian

 

The Library Bill of Rights, Article V

Over a 7 week period, the Faculty at Brookens Library will be sharing a blog series expounding on each article of the Library Bill of Rights. Each of the 6 principles in the Library Bill of Rights broadly outlines an ideal that librarians support and upon which they model behavior, practice, and services. As with most ideals, pursuit of the tenets of the Library Bill of Rights is not an effortless task. Each of the points we’ll be discussing come with their own special challenges and obstacles. 

The Library Bill of Rights (LBR), or as it was originally named, Library’s Bill of Rights, of the American Library Association “serves as the library profession’s interpretation of how the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution applies to libraries” (Office for Intellectual Freedom, 2010, p. xix). Specifically related to the First Amendment, the LBR interprets how “the freedom of speech, or of the press” applies to library practices. The ALA interprets these freedoms broadly to include intellectual freedom, “a freedom of the mind, a personal liberty and a prerequisite for all freedoms [End Page 42] leading to action.” Intellectual freedom is “the bulwark of our constitutional republic . . . [and] . . . the rallying cry of those who struggle for democracy worldwide,” according to the ALA’s Intellectual Freedom Manual, the official interpretive document and guide on implementing the LBR within the context of US libraries (Office for Intellectual Freedom, 2010, pp. xvii–xviii). (Reexamining the Origins of the Adoption of the ALA’s Library Bill of Rights, p. 1)

The Library Bill of Rights:

The American Library Association affirms that all libraries are forums for information and ideas, and that the following basic policies should guide their services.

I. Books and other library resources should be provided for the interest, information, and enlightenment of all people of the community the library serves. Materials should not be excluded because of the origin, background, or views of those contributing to their creation.

II. Libraries should provide materials and information presenting all points of view on current and historical issues. Materials should not be proscribed or removed because of partisan or doctrinal disapproval.

III. Libraries should challenge censorship in the fulfillment of their responsibility to provide information and enlightenment.

IV. Libraries should cooperate with all persons and groups concerned with resisting abridgment of free expression and free access to ideas.

V. A person’s right to use a library should not be denied or abridged because of origin, age, background, or views.

VI. Libraries which make exhibit spaces and meeting rooms available to the public they serve should make such facilities available on an equitable basis, regardless of the beliefs or affiliations of individuals or groups requesting their use.

Adopted June 19, 1939, by the ALA Council; amended October 14, 1944; June 18, 1948; February 2, 1961; June 27, 1967; January 23, 1980; inclusion of “age” reaffirmed January 23, 1996.

___________________________________________________________________

WEEK 5

Article V.  A person’s right to use a library should not be denied or abridged because of origin, age, background, or views.

In many ways, libraries are the great equalizer. No matter your educational background, your age, your beliefs, or any other aspect of your identity, libraries are open to all, so that all may obtain the resources they need. Creating and maintaining diverse collections, providing unfiltered access to the Internet, and making costly subscription-based online resources available is our foundation. But these collections and services would be meaningless if we limited access to select groups of people. For that reason, I find article 5 of the Library Bill of Rights to be the most impactful.

As an academic library serving a campus community, our primary focus is the university’s student, staff, and faculty. But our resources and services are not limited to those populations. Our doors are open to all. Research is not exclusively done by those with access to a college education. Using computers and the internet are more increasingly the only way to participate in certain basic functions of daily life, and information literacy is not a skill just for the classroom, but for life. Serving Springfield and beyond is an important part of our job.

This openness extends beyond serving patrons who are not affiliated with our university, but has a much broader scope. Brookens, like all libraries adhering to the Library Bill of Rights, places no limitations on patrons based on their origin, age, background, or views. Just like we make both sides of the issue available in our collections, we make that collection available to those with beliefs on either side of the issue, as well as those in-between and undecided. Additionally, we make no assumptions about what people of particular groups will want or need when providing resources. Instead, deciding what resources are appropriate or of interest is entirely up to each individual to decide, and they will be able to do so without censorship or judgment.

It is our honor to serve our UIS community as well as the community at-large and our responsibility to continue to advocate for their right to access the information all of our patrons need or desire.

Written By: Sarah Sagmoen, Director of Learning Commons and User Services

The Library Bill of Rights: Article lll

Over a 7 week period, the Faculty at Brookens Library will be sharing a blog series expounding on each article of the Library Bill of Rights. Each of the 6 principles in the Library Bill of Rights broadly outlines an ideal that librarians support and upon which they model behavior, practice, and services. As with most ideals, pursuit of the tenets of the Library Bill of Rights is not an effortless task. Each of the points we’ll be discussing come with their own special challenges and obstacles. This week we are featuring Article lll.

The Library Bill of Rights (LBR), or as it was originally named, Library’s Bill of Rights, of the American Library Association “serves as the library profession’s interpretation of how the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution applies to libraries” (Office for Intellectual Freedom, 2010, p. xix). Specifically related to the First Amendment, the LBR interprets how “the freedom of speech, or of the press” applies to library practices. The ALA interprets these freedoms broadly to include intellectual freedom, “a freedom of the mind, a personal liberty and a prerequisite for all freedoms [End Page 42] leading to action.” Intellectual freedom is “the bulwark of our constitutional republic . . . [and] . . . the rallying cry of those who struggle for democracy worldwide,” according to the ALA’s Intellectual Freedom Manual, the official interpretive document and guide on implementing the LBR within the context of US libraries (Office for Intellectual Freedom, 2010, pp. xvii–xviii). (Reexamining the Origins of the Adoption of the ALA’s Library Bill of Rights, p. 1)

The Library Bill of Rights:

The American Library Association affirms that all libraries are forums for information and ideas, and that the following basic policies should guide their services.

I. Books and other library resources should be provided for the interest, information, and enlightenment of all people of the community the library serves. Materials should not be excluded because of the origin, background, or views of those contributing to their creation.

II. Libraries should provide materials and information presenting all points of view on current and historical issues. Materials should not be proscribed or removed because of partisan or doctrinal disapproval.

III. Libraries should challenge censorship in the fulfillment of their responsibility to provide information and enlightenment.

IV. Libraries should cooperate with all persons and groups concerned with resisting abridgment of free expression and free access to ideas.

V. A person’s right to use a library should not be denied or abridged because of origin, age, background, or views.

VI. Libraries which make exhibit spaces and meeting rooms available to the public they serve should make such facilities available on an equitable basis, regardless of the beliefs or affiliations of individuals or groups requesting their use.

Adopted June 19, 1939, by the ALA Council; amended October 14, 1944; June 18, 1948; February 2, 1961; June 27, 1967; January 23, 1980; inclusion of “age” reaffirmed January 23, 1996.

_________________________________________________________________________

Library Bill or Rights, Article IlI.

Written by: Steven Ward, Visiting Clinical Assistant Professor/ Visiting User Services and Instructional Services Librarian

III. Libraries should challenge censorship in the fulfillment of their responsibility to provide information and enlightenment.

While all articles contained within in the library Bill of Rights deal with issues of intellectual freedom, the third article speaks more specifically to the responsibility of libraries and librarians to provide access to information of all types, and to challenge attempts of censorship when and where they exist. The limiting of access to information deemed too controversial because it runs contrary to the beliefs or opinions of either a single person, or to a group of people, have had some success through censorship, and although the intentions are often only meant to protect a few, they instead work to threaten all who actively pursue enlightenment and knowledge. Librarians must remain active on the front lines of censorship challenges to ensure that intellectual freedom can be preserved for all.

Even though attempts at censoring information and preventing enlightenment are most prevalent in public and school libraries, academic librarians must still actively contribute to the overall conversation, help to support the cause, and always be ready to defend the intellectual and academic freedom of others should challenges arise. Historically, materials that contained offensive language, were sexually explicit, or were ideological in nature, were targets of the censor, but other materials have been targeted simply because the ideas or subject matter put forward was more forward thinking and progressive than what was traditionally accepted at the time. When looking at banned books lists specifically, which provide some evidence of cases of censorship existing in libraries across the United States, it is most often these very materials that eventually gain wide acceptance for both helping to bring about social change, and for helping to shape the course of history. As a librarian, the idea that someone would choose to censor information or ban books was quite surprising to me at first, but after better understanding the responsibility we have in serving our community, as well as the negative implications that such bans can have on intellectual freedom rights, I am committed to ensuring that access to information of all types, controversial or not, is available to all who wish to seek it.

One way to stay informed and to help challenge censorship in libraries, is to celebrate ALA’s “Banned Books Week”. By promoting both successful and unsuccessful cases of banned and challenged books, ALA provides an awareness that allows libraries and librarians to engage the public in a discussion that can only help to highlight the importance of intellectual freedom and the right to read. This year’s event will take place the week of Sept 24th through Sept 30th. I am linking the site below, and I encourage you to browse the various banned books lists and literature found on this page.

http://www.ala.org/bbooks/

Steven Ward, Visiting Clinical Assistant Professor/ Visiting User Services and Instructional Services Librarian

The Library Bill of Rights: Article ll

Over the next 7 weeks, the Faculty at Brookens Library will be sharing a blog series expounding on each article of the Library Bill of Rights. Each of the 6 principles in the Library Bill of Rights broadly outlines an ideal that librarians support and upon which they model behavior, practice, and services. As with most ideals, pursuit of the tenets of the Library Bill of Rights is not an effortless task. Each of the points we’ll be discussing come with their own special challenges and obstacles. This week we are featuring Article ll.

The Library Bill of Rights (LBR), or as it was originally named, Library’s Bill of Rights, of the American Library Association “serves as the library profession’s interpretation of how the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution applies to libraries” (Office for Intellectual Freedom, 2010, p. xix). Specifically related to the First Amendment, the LBR interprets how “the freedom of speech, or of the press” applies to library practices. The ALA interprets these freedoms broadly to include intellectual freedom, “a freedom of the mind, a personal liberty and a prerequisite for all freedoms [End Page 42] leading to action.” Intellectual freedom is “the bulwark of our constitutional republic . . . [and] . . . the rallying cry of those who struggle for democracy worldwide,” according to the ALA’s Intellectual Freedom Manual, the official interpretive document and guide on implementing the LBR within the context of US libraries (Office for Intellectual Freedom, 2010, pp. xvii–xviii). (Reexamining the Origins of the Adoption of the ALA’s Library Bill of Rights, p. 1)

The Library Bill of Rights:

The American Library Association affirms that all libraries are forums for information and ideas, and that the following basic policies should guide their services.

I. Books and other library resources should be provided for the interest, information, and enlightenment of all people of the community the library serves. Materials should not be excluded because of the origin, background, or views of those contributing to their creation.

II. Libraries should provide materials and information presenting all points of view on current and historical issues. Materials should not be proscribed or removed because of partisan or doctrinal disapproval.

III. Libraries should challenge censorship in the fulfillment of their responsibility to provide information and enlightenment.

IV. Libraries should cooperate with all persons and groups concerned with resisting abridgment of free expression and free access to ideas.

V. A person’s right to use a library should not be denied or abridged because of origin, age, background, or views.

VI. Libraries which make exhibit spaces and meeting rooms available to the public they serve should make such facilities available on an equitable basis, regardless of the beliefs or affiliations of individuals or groups requesting their use.

Adopted June 19, 1939, by the ALA Council; amended October 14, 1944; June 18, 1948; February 2, 1961; June 27, 1967; January 23, 1980; inclusion of “age” reaffirmed January 23, 1996.

_________________________________________________________________________

Library Bill or Rights, Article II.

Written by: Stephen McMinn, Director of Collections & Scholarly Communications

ll: Libraries should provide materials and information presenting all points of view on current and historical issues. Materials should not be proscribed or removed because of partisan or doctrinal disapproval.

The library Bill of Rights consists of six statements deigned to help define the role of the library and serve as guiding principles for the services they provide. The preamble so to speak, plainly states “that all libraries are forums for information and ideas.” The second of the six articles in the Library Bill of Rights is most closely aligned to the First Amendment to the US Constitution which protects the rights of free speech and that of a free press. This article is written in two parts, the first statement covering the acquisition of all types or viewpoints of information, and the second part opposing removal of information due to the objection of others. This article states, “Libraries should provide materials and information presenting all points of view on current and historical issues, and materials should not be proscribed or removed because of partisan or doctrinal disapproval.” Essentially, it states that all types of information should be included or made available such that people can explore all sides of an issue, topic, or area of study.

Many of the articles in the Library Bill of Rights are similar or related to the overall goal of providing access to information and ideas with subtle differences. One could question how this statement is different than the first article or the next article dealing with censorship. The subtle difference from the first article is this article is centered on content of the information collected whereas the 1st article is more focused on who created the content. In terms of censorship, this statement is more specific as it opposes removing items from the library because they do not fit their individual beliefs or world view as opposed to taking a stand against censorship which is the government trying to keep out ideas or information. In my view, these guiding principles are important to a healthy and vibrant society as understanding other people’s beliefs, cultures, and views leads to better understanding and empathy. However, taking these positions just like free speech is difficult and can lead to misunderstandings of the library’s role in providing a forum for information and ideas.

One of my favorite lines that describes the issues with holding these beliefs is from the movie, An American President, where the president states “America is advanced citizenship. You gotta want it bad, ’cause it’s gonna put up a fight. It’s gonna say “You want free speech? Let’s see you acknowledge a man whose words make your blood boil, who’s standing center stage and advocating at the top of his lungs that which you would spend a lifetime opposing at the top of yours.” It’s easy when everyone agrees with you, it’s difficult when peoples’ strongly held beliefs go against yours, but hopefully the role of the library in presenting all types of information with all types of ideas and viewpoints, can foster understanding which will ultimately bring people together, not pull them apart.

Stephen McMinn, Director of Collections & Scholarly Communications