- Literacy of all kinds, across all platforms, empowers individuals to be their best selves — with a greater sense of personal efficacy, creative self-expression, & dignified autonomy.
- Public libraries are the heart of strong, vibrant, & healthy communities in which diverse individuals and families are supported, included, and recognized for their inherent strengths, self-worth, and belonging in the community.
- Individual rights to privacy, to freedom from censorship, and to intellectual freedom are vital to sustaining a safe, thriving, and inclusive democratic society –- and libraries and librarians have a core responsibility to protect those rights for every individual.
- Individuals, families, and communities have the right to equitable access to diverse viewpoints, high-quality resources and information, and a safe and welcoming space (both physical and virtual) to learn, to discover new possibilities, and to create meaningful knowledge for themselves and for others.
- Public libraries should serve as proactive community, cultural, and civic centers that work as forces of public good to advance social justice, equality, and inclusiveness in our communities.
Public libraries foster belonging, community and collaboration. Here’s how:
Public libraries draw on the strengths of their users and community members at large; empowers individuals to seek out and create knowledge in creative, meaningful, and impactful ways for themselves and others; and provides diverse resources, high-quality programming, and safe physical and virtual environments in which to enhance lifelong literacy and learning for all individuals.
As a library community, we recognize this vision in action when we experience for ourselves and/or witness in others:
- Increased initiative, ability, and independence in users and community members seeking out information and resources for new learning opportunities, skills, or knowledge;
- Increased collaboration among library users and community members to propose, lead, and/or participate actively in library programming that reflects their strengths, values, and aspirations;
- Increased achievement of individual, family, and community goals that enhance well-being (e.g., earning better grades in school, improving a particular skill, discovering a new interest or hobby, reading aloud more frequently to one’s children, repairing a neighborhood playground, etc.);
- Increased use of library space for makerspaces, STEAM stations, gaming areas, club and organization meetings, literary and visual art-making, informal group gatherings, after-school homework centers, continuing education for older adults, physical activities like yoga and tai chi, cultural and civic education programs, and more.
As a public librarian, I aim to:
- Empower users with the skills and confidence to use resources effectively so that they can achieve their personal goals.
As some of us continue to have greater access to information and resources through digital tools, others of us continue to have limited or no access, meaning that the role of librarians has taken on new importance and meaning: we have a responsibility to help bridge the digital divide as well as teach users how to search for and navigate the information and resources they need.
- Plan effective and relevant community programming and outreach that is grounded in a positive, user-centered, and strengths-based approach.
If we are to renew and sustain our libraries as thriving civic, community, and cultural centers, then we as librarians must recognize the inherent strengths of our users –- and draw on those strengths to create a dynamic library that supports and equips its community members with the information, resources, and spirit of collaboration needed to achieve their goals.
- Foster civil discourse, creative problem-solving, and ongoing community dialogue about local and national issues of social justice and facilitate greater empathy among and transformative change for individuals and communities.
Now more than ever before, we must learn how to engage with each other across our differences in honest, meaningful, and effective ways. One way to achieve this goal is to engage directly in the difficult issues our communities are facing by equipping users with resources, services, and information to learn and enact meaningful social change; community conversation skills to talk with each other honestly and compassionately about those issues; and creative problem-solving skills to address those issues – for example, by hosting workshops that teach users and community members how to talk about difficult issues and how to relate to each other around differences and diversity.
Public libraries are one of the few remaining spaces where we are obliged to interact with people who are different than us –-
and, just as importantly, they are one of the few remaining public spaces where we do not have to “earn” the right to be there by paying for it (i.e., a cup of coffee, a meal, a ticket, etc.).
It is vital that we create a truly democratic space where difficult yet essential community conversations can happen – with the goal of building strong, healthy, and empathetic communities where everyone feels safe, valued, and able to contribute to shared problem-solving, goal-getting, and dream-catching.
This means, by necessity, creating a sense of radical hospitality, genuine diversity, and honest, empathetic public discourse in our libraries –- and as a public librarian, I hope to do just that.