Library Bill of Rights, Article V

It’s National Library Week, April 9-15!

People often don’t know much about the work that libraries do, or that there is a Library Bill of Rights. That’s right, we have our own guiding principles that help determine how we serve our patrons and communities. We hope you learn a little big more of our library, our librarians and the Library Bill of Rights during National Library Week.

Throughout National Library Week, 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. Today we are featuring Article V.

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

Library Bill of Rights, Article IV

It’s National Library Week, April 9-15!

People often don’t know much about the work that libraries do, or that there is a Library Bill of Rights. That’s right, we have our own guiding principles that help determine how we serve our patrons and communities. We hope you learn a little big more of our library, our librarians and the Library Bill of Rights during National Library Week.

Throughout National Library Week, 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. Today we are featuring Article IV.

Library Bill of Rights, Article IV

Written by: Sally LaJoie, Clinical Assistant Professor/Instructional Services Librarian

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

Historically, libraries have supported free and equitable access to ideas. Librarians enable access to information by providing free access to resources, as well as the technology to use those resources, with the belief that it is against the fundamentals of the Library Bill of Rights for any group to impose its views on others through efforts to limit access to views they oppose. Nevertheless, since information is created and disseminated by different governmental bodies, businesses, and individuals, those in power often have the ability to limit access to ideas.

The fourth of six articles in the Library Bill of Rights recognizes the importance of free access to information and advises libraries to “cooperate with all persons and groups concerned with resisting abridgment of free expression and free access to ideas.” Free access to ideas is constantly being challenged from numerous fronts: government agencies debating policies on net neutrality and internet privacy, school boards voting to ban books, and law enforcement pressuring libraries to turn over data on patron activities. With these kinds of restrictions happening, the Library Bill of Rights acknowledges the fact that libraries are strategically positioned to provide support to groups and individuals who are resisting this type of censorship.

Within academia, libraries are expected to encourage the free flow of information and ideas within the scope of their roles and responsibilities. Academic libraries support this freedom in a variety of ways, including maintaining policies that support unfiltered access to the internet and respecting patron privacy. Content filtering devices and content-based restrictions are at odds with an academic library’s mission to further learning through the broadest possible range of ideas and resources. Such restrictions can be a fundamental violation of intellectual freedom. Libraries also promote the free access of ideas through supporting library users’ rights to privacy by engaging in limited tracking of user activities so people can feel comfortable accessing resources on confidential, controversial, or unpopular topics.

Censorship and the restriction of access to information can be harmful to society and individuals. When people don’t have access to information they need, they make decisions based on the information that is freely available to them, sometimes regardless of whether that information is factual or telling the whole story. When information is withheld, our basic democratic rights are threatened as people can no longer make informed decisions.

Libraries stand for free access to ideas, even those that might make us feel uncomfortable. Library users are the curators of the ideas that inform their own beliefs, and libraries continue to be a place where people have unfettered access to put difficult ideas in context, learn about them more deeply, and formulate their own opinions.

Written by: Sally LaJoie, Clinical Assistant Professor/Instructional Services Librarian

Library Bill of Rights, Article ll

It’s National Library Week, April 9-15!

People often don’t know much about the work that libraries do, or that there is a Library Bill of Rights. That’s right, we have our own guiding principles that help determine how we serve our patrons and communities. We hope you learn a little big more of our library, our librarians and the Library Bill of Rights during National Library Week.

Throughout National Library Week, 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. Today we are featuring Article ll.

Library Bill or Rights, Article ll

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

Library Bill of Rights: Article l

It’s National Library Week, April 9-15!

People often don’t know much about the work that libraries do, or that there is a Library Bill of Rights. That’s right, we have our own guiding principles that help determine how we serve our patrons and communities. We hope you learn a little big more of our library, our librarians and the Library Bill of Rights during National Library Week.

Over the next 7 days, 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. Point 1 is no exception:

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.

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WEEK 1

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.

The Library Bill of Rights can be thought of as a sort of Hippocratic Oath for librarians. Obviously, the circumstances surrounding a typical librarian’s day to day activity limit our chances to do actual, physical harm – sudden shelf collapses and the adventures medical librarians get up to being notable exceptions. However, as drivers of collections and stewards of information, librarians can have quite an impact on the populations we serve on other ways. Most notably, in terms of access to information.

Our patrons are largely dependent on librarians to create and maintain the collections they use. Though many libraries give their patrons the option of requesting things to be added to the collections, the bulk of the collecting is done by professional librarians. Point one of the Library Bill of Rights places this part of the patron/librarian relationship front and center. It is a commitment to intellectual freedom on our patrons’ behalf. It is also a reminder to librarians to not let our own ideas about ‘proper’ reading material warp our collection.

While this point doesn’t meant that librarians are morally or ethically obligated to include hate speech (for example) in our collections, it does mean that we need to be mindful of our own biases in a general sense. In the past, librarians have had some practices that could be, generously, called shortsighted – even if they were well-intentioned. Specifically, I’m talking about the long history librarians have of self-righteous readers advisory and collections activities.

Briefly speaking, at various points in the history of libraries, certain types of information have been privileged over others. The idea being that librarians were the ideal group of people to determine the relative intellectual value of the items in the library’s collection. In the 20’s and 30’s this meant that nonfiction was overwhelmingly given center stage. It also led to some fairly embarrassing ideas about matching patron types to books in other eras. I have vivid memories of an old library text book on readers advisory that advised librarians to suggest Crime and Punishment as ideal reading material for their patrons that looked like they might be sort who needed the reminder.

At the end of the day, it’s not the place of the librarian to make these sort of deep cutting judgement calls. Librarians have a great amount of potential to influence our patrons, but our collections are just not the right way to exert that power. In the face of the sheer amount of information available today, it is also not an effective strategy. It artificially holds librarians into a very narrow collection focus and, arguably, reduces the effectiveness and usefulness of our collections. It’s much more efficient to teach out patrons how to do that for their own individual needs.

John Laubersheimer, Clinical Assistant Professor/Instructional Services Librarian

National Library Week: We Protect Your Rights

It’s National Library Week! First sponsored in 1958, National Library Week is a national observance sponsored by the American Library Association (ALA) and libraries across the country each April. It is a time to celebrate the contributions of our nation’s libraries and librarians and to promote library use and support. This year we want to highlight some of the ways Brookens Library shines for our students, faculty, staff as the Springfield community.

When people think of the library they think of books, but we are so much more…

We Protect Your Rights:

Freedom of information is fundamental to the American way of life, and free and full access sets us apart from many countries. Libraries and librarians are committed to preserving both the freedom to read in order to enhance learning and ensure access to information for all. Protecting user privacy and confidentiality is another integral part of the mission of libraries.

At Brookens, we fulfill this by…

Protecting patron information such as contact information and materials the patron has checked out

Opening our doors to the public

Not filtering the internet on our computers

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National Library Week: We Promote Literacy

We Promote Literacy:

Libraries are committed to helping children and adults develop the skills they need to survive and thrive in a global information society: the ability to read and use computers.

At Brookens, we fulfill this by…

Teaching Information literacy instruction

Helping patrons at the desk locate information resources

Helping patrons use the computers

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National Library Week: We Provide Access!

It’s National Library Week! First sponsored in 1958, National Library Week is a national observance sponsored by the American Library Association (ALA) and libraries across the country each April. It is a time to celebrate the contributions of our nation’s libraries and librarians and to promote library use and support. This year we want to highlight some of the ways Brookens Library shines for our students, faculty, staff and the Springfield community.

When people think of the library they think of books, but we are so much more…

We Provide Access:

Libraries level the playing field. As great democratic institutions, serving people of every age, income level, location, ethnicity, or physical ability, and providing the full range of information resources needed to live, learn, govern, and work. At libraries, patrons are free to exercise their right to know without fear of censorship or reprisal.

At Brookens, we fulfill this by…

Providing access to books, databases and other materials.

Providing access to computers and wireless internet

Offering our resources and services to the public

Not censoring (i.e. banning books or putting filters on our computers)

If you stop in the library you will see our over 30 foot chalkboard decked out for National Library Week – tell us how Brookens shines for you!

Support Brookens Library by becoming a Friend today!

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