Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh (CLP) strives every day to live up to the words etched above the entrance to our Main Library and ensure our city’s libraries and the information to which they provide access are free to the people. To us that also means everyone is free to access the knowledge they want, need, and deserve. We strive to ensure each of us can read what we want and that our neighbors can too, even if it’s not what we want to read ourselves.
Yet the fact is there are more and more efforts across the country by people wanting to tell other people what they can and cannot read. These efforts to ban books are currently—and sharply–on the rise (more on that in a future blog post). This is certainly not a new situation and for decades public libraries in the U.S. have marked Banned Books Week to raise awareness of this very issue. This year’s commemoration, led by the American Library Association (ALA), is this week, and the 2022 theme is Books Unite Us. Censorship Divides Us.
ALA believes “Intellectual freedom is the right of every individual to both seek and receive information from all points of view without restriction. It provides for free access to all expressions of ideas through which any and all sides of a question, cause or movement may be explored.” This commitment to free access is one of the core values of the library profession as described in the Library Bill of Rights which proclaims:
- 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.
- Libraries should challenge censorship in the fulfillment of their responsibility to provide information and enlightenment.
It also calls upon public libraries to “provide materials and information presenting all points of view on current and historical issues” and you can learn more about how CLP does that here and here.
During this time when we also encourage everyone to Love Your Library, I hope you will consider joining your neighbors here at CLP to celebrate the freedom for all people to read.