September 11 is a day we remember many things about the attack on the World Trade Center and other buildings. It was Bill Erbes of Bensenville Community Public Library who started libraries Remember Day. He suggested other libraries join his being open 24 hours on September 11, from midnight to midnight, as a remembrance of not only that terrible time but of the part libraries play in preserving freedom and history.
What may not be widely known is that the American Library Association adopted a patron’s bill of rights way back in 1939. I have abridged it, but you can read the full document here.
- Library materials should be available to all.
- Libraries should provide materials presenting all points of view, not limiting them to a particular belief system.
- Libraries should challenge censorship.
- Libraries should work with all groups concerned with freedom of speech and information.
- The library should be open to all users.
- Is about making library public spaces and meeting rooms equally available to all.
This has led libraries to do such things as make sure a patron’s record is private. Most library systems break the link between patron and items checked out after they are returned so that no one’s reading habits can be used against them. Libraries provide access to the Internet so that all can access available information. Libraries fight censorship in all its forms.
Libraries also preserve history, collecting source documents, cataloging, and housing them so that they are available for researchers and others. Even in this age of instant information, we need libraries to help sort the wheat from the chaff, nd to provide a long, historical view.
Neil Gaiman has called libraries “the thin red line between civilisation and barbarism.” Libraries remember even when the powers that be don’t want them to.
Quotes about libraries
Without libraries what have we? We have no past and no future.–Ray Bradbury
When you are growing up there are two institutional places that affect you most powerfully: the church, which belongs to God, and the public library, which belongs to you.–Keith Richards
Whatever the cost of our libraries, the price is cheap compared to that of an ignorant nation.–Walter Cronkite
The very existence of libraries affords the best evidence that we may yet have hope for the future of man.–T. S. Eliot
To Whom It May Concern: Welcome to the library where no one will tell you what to read or tell you what to think…. Meanwhile a book over there on a shelf will be glancing at you sideways getting up the courage to ask you out make you laugh make you cry make you fall in love.–Meg Rosoff
A public library is the most enduring of memorials, the trustiest monument for the preservation of an event or a name or an affection; for it, and it only, is respected by wars and revolutions, and survives them.–Mark Twain
Perhaps no place in any community is so totally democratic as the town library. The only entrance requirement is interest.–Lady Bird Johnson
Libraries are about Freedom. Freedom to read, freedom of ideas, freedom of communication. They are about education (which is not a process that finishes the day we leave school or university), about entertainment, about making safe spaces, and about access to information.–Neil Gaiman
The library is the temple of learning, and learning has liberated more people than all the wars in history.–Carl Rowan
Libraries remind us that truth isn’t about who yells the loudest, but who has the right information.–Barack Obama
Knowledge sets us free, art sets us free. A great library is freedom.–Ursula K. Le Guin
I go into my library and all history unrolls before me.–Alexander Smith
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