A LIVING FORCE FOR CULTURE:
Public Library Services in the United States as Reflective of Human Rights, Human Development and the Millennium Goals
Katharine J. Phenix and Kathleen de la Peña McCook
Public libraries in the United States have exhibited continual progress in the expansion of services since the establishment of this public good in the mid-nineteenth century. While the discourse about public library services among its practitioners has evolved along the lines of general progressive thought, this discourse has been framed in a fashion that reflects U.S. values and has largely refrained from describing services using the language of human rights. The reasons for this have much to do with political decisions made outside of librarianship that nevertheless have affected the way U.S. librarians describe and activate services. Thus, while we assert that U. S. public libraries do provide services that are reflective of human rights, we also recognize that the connections for front line public librarians in the U.S. to the larger global discourse have yet to be made in a clear manner.
This is especially true for the category of rights we call social and cultural that are named as solidarity rights by the organizers of this volume. Solidarity rights or third generation rights as a concept in international human rights development have been little deliberated in this language among U.S. librarians. While the field has the beginning of a strong foundation for establishing the importance of cultural works as discussed by Edwards and Edwards at the Ramallah Centre for Human Rights Studies’ 2008 International Conference on Libraries from a Human Rights Perspective, there is still a need to establish the specific instruments that can be used to provide a rationale for operationalization of these rights.
Librarians have had a longstanding commitment to the modes of service that could be characterized solidarity rights as evidenced by the American Library Association’s establishment of the Office for Library Service to the Disadvantaged in 1970. The work of U.S. librarians has evolved in a mode that incorporates human rights values and precepts without having used the discourse that characterizes the philosophical and ethical precepts of human rights and human development. Samek has warned us of this (these?) lacunae in her ethical reflections on 21st century information work as background to the effort to establish a Special Interest Group on Ethics in the Association for Library and Information Science Education.
What we seek to do is this essay is to identify the instruments that provide the foundation for solidarity rights and then demonstrate the ways in which U.S. public librarians can begin to describe the work they have been doing in language that will enable them to claim their place among nations. We will present and review what we call the Rhombus model of Librarians and Human Rights.
[INSERT RHOMBUSnewmarketingcampaign FIGURE HERE}
The model helps us visualize the rich huge body of work that has already been done on social, economic and cultural rights and its shape helps us visualize the support structure that upholds our work as librarians bound to support, acknowledge and inform these rights.. Our focus is on public librarians in the United States. We will discuss three areas that illuminate the social and cultural aspects of public library service as illuminated by integration of human rights concepts.
1) a brief discussion of the work to support Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) as the point of a philosophical crystallization to human rights ;
2) a broad discussion of the instruments that provide the foundation for librarians’ role in activating other articles in the UDHR; this is the rhombus. All mention of instruments and declarations and Vienna stuff should be here
3) the point of activation of service by librarians informed by a human rights philosophy.
As we work on this paper the Association of Library and Information Science Education has adopted the ALISE Information Ethics Special Interest Group
“Position Statement on Information Ethics in LIS Education”(Ratified at the ALISE Business Meeting held on January 10, 2008) and this position paper at last connects the UDHR and the responsibilities of the professorate, but, at this writing, there has not been attention in the literature of U.S. librarianship to the local manifestation of this adoption.
U.S. Librarians and Article 19
"Article 19. Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers."
--Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948)
Librarians begin with Article 19 of the UDHR as the beginning of understanding of our commitment to the principles of human rights because we have worked through the civil liberty issues over many decades. Public librarians have many supporting materials in our repertory as we endeavor to promote the principles of Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in practice. The American Library Association is on record as supporting 1st and 2nd generation human rights since the Library Bill of Rights was adopted on June 18th, 1948, six months before the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) was signed. Commitment to the right to expression had been codified in Section 53. Intellectual Freedom of the American Library Association Policy Manual as 53.1 The Library Bill of Rights.
These sentiments are further supported by the ALA Policy Manual Section 58. International Relations. Policy objectives cited therein include encouragement of the exchange, dissemination, and access to information and the unrestricted flow of library materials in all formats throughout the world and the promotion and support of human rights and intellectual freedom worldwide.
The Association voted and approved the language of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Article 19 with the adoption of Policy 58.4 and 58.4.1:
58.4 Article 19 of the United Nations’ Universal Declaration of Human Rights
Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media regardless of frontiers.
58.4.1 Human Rights and Freedom of Expression
The ALA shall work with other associations and institutions that belong to IFLA to develop positions and programmatic plans of action in support of human rights and freedom of expression. The president or the member officially representing the Association at IFLA conferences shall be directed to support and carry them out; and, in the absence of such specific direction, the president or the member officially representing the Association at IFLA conferences is empowered to vote on new IFLA resolutions related to human rights and freedom. Their votes shall be guided by ALA’s adoption of Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the good of the Association.
The Resolution on IFLA, Human Rights, and Freedom of Expression, was passed by ALA Council on July 2nd, 1997. It again highlights the UDHR Article 19 and ALA's endorsement of it. It states, quite simply: “Librarians worldwide made a commitment to promote and defend human rights in relation to information access in 1997 when the International Federation of Library Associations (IFLA) voted to establish the Committee on Free Access to Information and Freedom of Expression (FAIFE)”.
The American Library Association has taken stands on Article 19 incorporating support in its policy manual. It is from the departure point of Article 19—we place this at the top of the Rhombus-- that the way opens to integrate review other human rights instruments that can be used to expand library services.
Middle of the Rhombus
U.S. librarians have addressed the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) via Article 19 which seems to most to align with the values of library workers, but Article 19 is the first codification that leads to a far more expansive recognition of the connections of the UDHR to library services. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights is actually a part of the International Bill of Human Rights, which also contains the International Covenant on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights (ICESCR) (1966) and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) (1966). These documents share the same roots, but after the UDHR was drafted, the other covenants were considered separately, addressing the two types of rights. As Amnesty International notes:
"On one side the achievement of economic, social and cultural rights (an adequate standard of living, education, health care, and income protection) was presented as requiring a political commitment to socialism. On the other, civil and political rights (the right to vote, free expression, legal representation) were portrayed as a luxury that could only be afforded once a certain level of economic development had been achieved."
A recent discussion in Human Rights Quarterly frames the complex myth regarding third generation and solidarity rights concepts toward which the West is often viewed as indifferent or hostile. The authors note: “Even many who insist on the interdependence and indivisibility of all human rights, and thus the fully equal status of economic and social rights, help to perpetuate the myth by accepting the three generations, three worlds story that has become the hegemonic narrative about "universal, indivisible, and interrelated" human rights in many international human rights circles.” We would like to suggest that librarians review the history of the adoption of economic and social rights to gain an understanding of the degree to which these values are integrated into the daily work of librarians.
Moving from the realm of human rights scholarship to a broad U.S. audience we see that Martin Luther King, Jr. spoke to the Southern Christian Leadership Conference in 1967 and stated: "I think it is necessary to realize that we have moved from the era of Civil Rights to the era of human rights. When you deal with human rights you are not dealing with something clearly defined in the Constitution. They are rights that are clearly defined by the mandates of a humanitarian concern.". To understand King’s meaning we need to review the growing body of conventions and other instruments that were enacted in the post-World War II twentieth century to move the world to a realization of human rights in full.
Some of the major human rights instruments created through the United Nations (UN) and the Organization of American States (OAS) include
• Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide (1951)
• The Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (1963)
• The Convention on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women (1979)
• The Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (1987)
• The Convention on the Rights of the Child (1989)
• Convention on the Protection of Migrant Workers and Their Families (1990)
Some of these rights are acknowledged and protected by laws in the United States, but others are not present in American legal jurisprudence, although economic, social and cultural rights are now recognized as enforceable in the courts (justiciable) under both national and international law. As noted most passionately in Something So Strong: A Resource Guide of Human Rights in the United States
"Human rights conceives of civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights as interdependent, transcending the current U.S. rights framework that often pits disadvantaged groups against one another. Applying a human rights framework puts the power of rights back into the hands of the people who possess those rights, whether or not they are recognized in domestic law."
The USA has stated that
"at best, economic, social and cultural rights are goals that can only be achieved progressively, not guarantees. Therefore, while access to food, health services and quality education are the top of any list of development goals, to speak of them as rights turns the citizens of developing countries into objects of development rather than subjects of in control of their own destiny"
Much international discussion that activates and realizes the philosophical aspects of human rights has been made part of the public sphere by various conferences and programs of UNESCO. Since the United States left UNESCO in 1983 and did not rejoin until 2004, the discussion of human rights and their interpretations in this country has been interrupted. United States citizens have not been kept informed of the inter-relatedness of the 2nd and 3rd generations of rights which have become more prominent since the late 1980s.
Another United Nations initiative which bears review since 1990 is the Human Development Approach intended to enlarge people’s choices and enhance human capabilities. This framing is of interest to librarians because it incorporates the idea that access to knowledge is fundamental to human development. The series of reports issued by the Human Development Programme beginning in 1990 provide a well-documented history of a new model for human growth.
On 25 June 1993 after the end of the Cold-War, representatives of 171 States adopted by consensus the Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action at the World Conference on Human Rights. Mr. Ibrahim Fall, the Secretary-General of the Conference stated that the Vienna Declaration provided the international community with a new "framework of planning, dialogue and cooperation" that will enable a holistic approach to promoting human rights and involve actors at all levels -- international, national and local. The Conference also included the examination of the link between development, democracy and economic, social, cultural, civil and political rights. The Conference took historic new steps to promote and protect the rights of women, children and indigenous peoples by creation of a new mechanism, a Special Rapporteur on Violence Against Women, calling for the universal ratification of the Convention on the Rights of the Child by the year 1995; and recommending the proclamation by the General Assembly of an international decade of the world’s indigenous peoples. The Vienna Declaration also made recommendations for strengthening the monitoring capacity of the United Nations system and called for the establishment of a High Commissioner for Human Rights by the General Assembly, which created the post on 20 December 1993.
In his essay, “The Declaration of Human Rights in Postmodernity,” Jose A. Alves explores the milestone status of the Vienna Declaration for the formalization of the UDHR. He observes that “the acceptance of multiculturalism in place of rational, universalistic humanism is, in fact, if not the "foundation," at least the keynote of all brands of postmodern thinking.”
The Vienna+5 Review (five years on) underscored the need to focus on development and democracy, “respect for all human rights and fundamental freedoms, including the right to development, transparent and accountable governance and administration in all sectors of society, as well as effective participation by civil society, are essential parts of the necessary foundations for the realization of social- and people-centered sustainable development.” (art. 30). Of special interest is Section XI which “affirmed that education on human rights and the dissemination of proper information, both theoretical and practical, play an important role in the promotion and respect of human rights with regard to all individuals without distinction of any kind, such as race, sex, language or religion, and this should be integrated in the education policies at the national as well as international levels.” The Vienna+5 review includes among its conclusions: “In order to be fully respected and observed, human rights must be understood, promoted and implemented by the international community also from the perspectives of development, peace and security.”
The publication of Human Rights and Human Development by the Human Rights Development Programme in 2000 marked a possible convergence of the two approaches—human rights and development:
“Human rights and human development share a common vision and a common purpose—to secure, for every human being, freedom, well-being and dignity. Divided by the cold war, the rights agenda and development agenda followed parallel tracks. Now converging, their distinct strategies and traditions can bring new strength to the struggle for human freedom. The Human Development Report 2000 looks at human rights as an intrinsic part of development—and at development as a means to realizing human rights. It shows how human rights bring principles of accountability and social justice to the process of human development.
In 2000 a Millennium Summit was held to discuss the role of the United Nations in the new millennium. The United Nations Millennium Declaration that resulted included reaffirmation of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and establishment of eight Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) goals for 2015.
1. eradicate extreme poverty and hunger
2. achieve universal primary education
3. promote gender equality and empower women
4. reduce child mortality
5. improve maternal health
6. combat HIV/AIDS, malaria and other diseases
7. ensure environmental sustainability
8. develop a global partnership for development.
In 2000 the international community faced multiple approaches to conceptualizing and activating human rights including development and the millennium goals. The similar complex statements are somewhat overwhelming and difficult to sort. Unfortunately there is a tendency not to deal at all. In his analysis, of the current state of the human rights and development debate seen through the lens of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), Alston attempts to connect these approaches. After a lengthy analysis of the approaches he suggests that duty-bearers and policy analysts
use human rights terminology wherever it is clearly applicable. The easiest examples would be to include references to the right to education, the right to adequate food, and the right to health, in the sections dealing with those issues as MDGs. Once again the precise implications of this terminology need not be spelled out in the document. In most cases it will be through a dialogue within the community and particularly between civil society and the government to identify the specific implications in a given location.
Alston calls on actors from the sectors to demonstrate more commonality of concern, language and implementation.
The Millennium Project was commissioned by the United Nations Secretary-General in 2002 to recommend a concrete action plan for the world to reverse the grinding poverty, hunger and disease affecting billions of people. Headed by Jeffrey Sachs, the Project was an independent advisory body and presented its final report in January 2005. The Millennium Goal report issued 2008 did not mention human rights..
Setting aside the Millennium Development Goals for a moment we can see that most of the instruments developed since the UDHR in 1948 clearly connect the interdependency of all these rights. UNESCO’s Universal Declaration on Cultural Diversity, adopted November 2001 stated "Cultural rights are an integral part of human rights, which are universal, indivisible, and independent". Much of the literature connects them … for example
"the [right] to identity entails minority rights (ICCPR 27), freedom in arts and sciences (ICESR 15) and freedoms of thought, religion and opinion (ICCPR 18, 19)
Using this connectivity argument, Weeramantry concludes that "if there is in reality human rights at any level it must necessarily follow that access to the information appropriate to the exercise of that right becomes a right in itself . And as the UNESCO declaration continues in Article 6
While ensuring the free flow of ideas by word and image care should be exercised that all cultures can express themselves and make themselves known. Freedom of expression, media pluralism, multilingualism, equal access to art and to scientific and technological knowledge, including in digital form, and the possibility for all cultures to have access to the means of expression and dissemination are the guarantees of cultural diversity.
The UNESCO “Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions” was adopted in 2005. It celebrated the importance of cultural diversity for the full realization of human rights and fundamental freedoms proclaimed in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and other universally recognized instruments. A guiding principle is that cultural diversity can be protected and promoted only if human rights and fundamental freedoms, such as freedom of expression, information and communication, as well as the ability of individuals to choose cultural expressions, are guaranteed.
The latest edition of Human Rights: Major International Instruments presents data on States’ ratifications, accessions and successions to human rights instruments both universal and regional. The majority of the rights proclaimed in the UDHR have been codified and progressively developed. However some rights, like the right to take part in cultural life and the right to enjoy the benefits of scientific progress and its applications, are still awaiting further elucidation of their content and corresponding obligations of States.
Cultural Rights in Libraries
This Manifesto proclaims UNESCO's belief in the public library as a living force for education, culture and information, and as an essential agent for the fostering of peace and spiritual welfare through the minds of men and women.
--- UNESCO/ IFLA Public Library Manifesto
The connection between people in the United States and their public libraries carries the legacy of the human rights instruments we have examined. To deepen front line U.S. librarian engagement with world issues and to move beyond Article 19 we have in this section decided to examine various aspects of cultural rights making use some of the statements and policies that inform U.S. public library services. The Rhombus model we have used to depict this process culminates in specific services to people in groups or categories designated as requiring special services such as those with disabilities, poor people, or people marginalized and excluded. We use Stephen Hansen’s essay, “The Right to Take Part in Cultural Life” as point of departure to examine the implications of these rights in the context of the U.S. public library in 2009. He approaches "culture" from several standpoints. His [Hansen] description of rights relating to culture are those concerning creativity, including the visual arts, literature, music, dance, and theater. In Western society, the cultural rights inferred here are those relating to the commercial access to these achievements. Individuals are free to participate, subject, of course, to economic constraints. A second approach is his rights to a culture, which focus on the conservation and preservation of culture, as well as the right to have access and participate in it. It is within this context that UNESCO's Recommendation on the Participation by the People at Large In Cultural Life and their Contribution to It states that culture means "opportunities available to everyone, in particular, through the creation of the appropriate socio-economic conditions, for freely obtaining information, training, knowledge and understanding, and for enjoying cultural values and cultural property. Sounds like a public library to us.
• Connecting the Dots: Tyree Guyton's Heidelberg Project, [transformed the street into a massive art environment] program at the Southfield Public Library
What is the stance of the policy makers and governing bodies of libraries today in relation to cultural rights? Certainly the work done to ensure access to a culture, by ensuring the civil rights of groups, are visible in the historical work to pressure libraries to integrate since 1956 when ALA held its first integrated conference in Miami or later in 1961 when the Library Bill of Rights was amended to support “the rights of an individual to the use of a library should not be denied or abridged because of his race, religion, national origins, or political views.”
• African American collections held at public libraries and, and cultural organizations dedicated to preserving Black history.
The American Library Association Policy Manual is a useful source of collected deliberations as duly discussed and voted upon that provide detail about library policy in the United States regarding proactive policies and reactive rights of library users. In Section 52 Services and Responsibilities of Libraries library access is directly mentioned in 52.2.1 Preservation and in 52.4.3 Immigrants' Rights of Free Public Library Access.
• American public libraries have a long history of service to the foreign-born. .. Materials in languages other than English, bilingual and bicultural staff members, literacy instruction, and English-as-a-second-language courses are some of the more common strategies. In addition, libraries can partner with federal Americanization agencies. The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services has had vendor booths at American library Association Annual Conferences to promote naturalization and citizenship materials for public libraries. Federal outreach to immigrants through public libraries dates back at least to the World War I era.
In Section 53. Intellectual Freedom, the Library Bill of Rights is followed by "interpretations" which are stated in Articles 53.1.1 to 53.1.19. Several specifically mention groups, including free access to minors (53.1.4), children and young adults to nonprint materials (53.1.13), all persons regardless of sex, gender identity or sexual orientation (53.1.15). Additionally, Section 54.3.2 provides for Library Services for People with Disabilities.
• Revised Standards of Service for the Library of Congress Network of Libraries for the Blind and Physically Handicapped; Guidelines for Library and Information Services for the American Deaf Community; Guidelines for Library Services for People with Mental Illnesses.
Section 60 Diversity is specifically directed to promoting library services to groups (rights relating to culture) and responsiveness to cultural imperatives (rights to a culture). It states
The American Library Association (ALA) promotes equal access to information for all persons and recognizes the ongoing need to increase awareness of and responsiveness to the diversity of the communities we serve. ALA recognizes the critical need for access to library and information resources, services, and technologies by all people, especially those who may experience language or literacy-related barriers; economic distress; cultural or social isolation; physical or attitudinal barriers; racism; discrimination on the basis of appearance, ethnicity, immigrant status, religious background, sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression; or barriers to equal education, employment, and housing.
Libraries can and should play a crucial role in empowering diverse populations for full participation in a democratic society. In order to accomplish this, however, libraries must utilize multivariate resources and strategies. In the library workforce, concrete programs of recruitment, training, development, advancement and promotion are needed in order to increase and retain diverse library personnel who are reflective of the society we serve. Within the American Library Association and in the services and operations of libraries, efforts to include diversity in programs, activities, services, professional literature, products and continuing education must be ongoing and encouraged.
Public libraries from the first have been looking out for the social, economic and cultural rights of its community. It is already hard wired into the way we think about our service. This point is nicely and obliquely made by Thomas Clay Templeton as he thinks about the library as "place" either physically or virtually. He writes
Place reminds us to tailor our professional work to the shifting concerns,
and indeed the shifting criteria, of our shifting constituencies, rather than
to a placeless professional vision of what librarianship, society, and literacy should be. The places of libraries in the lives of people are places we evolve together; otherwise the library is a site of domination or a hopeless utopian dream, literally “no place.”
In my dim view, trying to apply the concept of 3rd generation human rights to the mission of the public library is to impose some sort of oppositional model between the "institution" and the "groups" those whose group rights we attempt to promote. In fact, there is no opposition, instead a sincere and fundamental premise, raison d^etre , movement to identify and include all inhabitants of a service community.
Exploring the history of public librarianship reveals in its broadest form a continued awareness of its social and economic constituencies made up of diverse groups. Three specific constituencies occupied the better part of the 20th century and defined new specializations in the profession. They are from the first, the library responding to the call to further democracy and individual rights by becoming the people's university.
Another telling proof that libraries are already facing up to their responsibility to provide services not just to individuals but to the demands of a coalesced clump of people is the terminology associated planning and the future of 21st century public libraries. The practice of public librarianship in the twenty-first century United States as conceived by those involved in the development of the Public Library Association “New Planning for Results” model is about managing change. The 2008 guide, Strategic Planning for Results, identified eighteen service responses that were selected by public librarians through several years of meetings and interactive discussion. These eighteen service responses will guide the practice of public librarianship in the United States for the next decade….
Looking through the lens of human rights agency, and call to focus on human rights librarianship in respect to groups, each of these responses can be seen to advance idedals of human rights but as such they are not using the languages of human rights not are they connected to global issues or the IFLA manifesto.
1) “Be an Informed Citizen: Local, National and World Affairs;”
Some obvious examples here. Voting places; Active Minds programs; ALA Worlds Connect (National Library Week); Kranich
2) “Build Successful Enterprises: Business and Nonprofit Support;”
3) Celebrate Diversity: Cultural Awareness;”
See B Ford in Portable MLIS: reach out to community groups reflecting other cultures and countries and celebrate that diversity with speakers, exhibits films and special performances. Plan programs, displays and fairs around international holidays; United Nations, and world commemorative days. Sponsor a series of lecturs or presentations on different countries or world relgions. Invite returned Peace Corps volunteers, Fulbright Scholars or others with international experience to speak.
4) “Connect to the Online World: Public Internet Access;”
Interesting finding of Public Agenda's "Long Overdue: A Fresh Look at Public and Leadership Attitudes About Libraries in the 21st Century". "Two thirds of survey respondents say that having enough computers and online services for people should be a high priority for their local library. More than 6 in 10 favor wiring libraries so that those who may not be able to afford computers in their home can learn computer skills and get online. And those who think that libraries are just becoming the information sources of last resort for those who can't afford a home computer seem to be mistaken. Advanced computer users and families with higher incomes are even more likely to use public libraries and the technology services they offer.
5) ”Create Young Readers: Early Literacy;”
6) “Discover Your Roots: Genealogy and Local History; “
7) “Express Creativity: Create and Share Content;”
8)” Get Facts Fast: Ready Reference;”
9) “Know Your Community: Community Resources and Services;“
10) “Learn to Read and Write: Adults, Teens and Family Literature; “
11) “Make Career Choices: Job and Career Development;”
12) “Make Informed Decisions: Health, Wealth and Other Life Choices; “
13) “Satisfy Curiosity: Lifelong Learning; “
14) “Stimulate Imagination: Reading, Viewing and Listening for Pleasure;”
15) “Succeed in School: Homework Help;”
16) “Understand How to Find, Evaluate, and Use Information: Information Fluency; “
17) “Visit a Comfortable Place: Physical and Virtual Spaces;”
18)”Welcome to the United States: Services for New Immigrants.”
Public libraries also create value, which in turn, advances the economic status of the neighborhood. This can be seen in several ways. The first is as ROI and there are plenty of studies about that I haven't paid attention to. The second is something I learned about from Mary Dempsey, when she spoke at CAL. Branches of the CPL go into blighted neighborhoods as beautiful buildings and change the whole atmosphere and economic possibilities. Chicago Public Library. "Building a library in a neighborhood can transform the neighborhood. In neighborhood after neighborhood, Chicago's new libraries have demonstrated their power to transform. Not only does library use soar, the neighborhoods themselves are revitalized. Aldermen now vie to have new or renovated libraries in their neighborhoods--and community residents sing their praises". Further, Mayor Daley says "What you see is many times businesses will do something in and around the library. [For example,] they will open a coffee shop. People [realize] the city invested X amount of money, whether it's 8 or 10 or 12 million dollars. That's a big investment. Then retail thinks, "The city is investing here. We should start investing here."
The history of the public library is nothing if not a struggle to find our place as a service organization to a diverse public. This is not a picture of an institution imposing its views and values on an unsuspecting population.
Poor People’s Policy
Social Expression---Facebook, MySpace; Nashua New Hampshire After Hours Networking
Economic Expression----Monster.com; Excel; eMail;
Cultural Expression--Is there time for this? Picturing America? Museum examples from Kathleen
Exploring the relationship between public libraries and 3rd generation human rights…rights as an individual's claim on society
UNESCO Public Library Manifesto states that "the public library, the local gateway to knowledge, provides a basic condition for lifelong learning, independent decision making and cultural development of the individual and social groups. (IFLA.org/documents)
Once known as the people's university, the public library has also performed the role of the peoples' office, and now the people's IT center. As reported in Long Overdue: A Fresh Look at Libraries in the 21st Century the "opportunities to do more": are to provide
• a safe and engaging place for teens
• literacy skills for a strong workforce
• center for community information
• greater access to technology
Cultural Programming for Libraries
For a library to fulfill its mission to provide community engagement and cultural dialogue, diverse, excellent cultural programming is the key
Top 10 reasons:
10. Programming and community outreach are important roles for the library as a community center
9. Interpretation of the collection is an important role
8. Everybody is doing it
7. It's easy to get money
6. Gains visibility for the llbrary
5. Boosts circulation
4. Rewarding, enriching, and satisfying for librarian and audience
3. Intergenerational enjoyment
2. Fosters bonding with your co-workers
1. A great way to meet other librarians
PUBLIB electronic discussion group buzzes with "do you provide your patrons with a) a fax machine, b) a scanner, c) USB/Memory stick/Flash drives. We are also asking each other "how do you serve your unemployed" The new new pathfinder is "Step by Step on MS-Office Resume Wizard" and "How to Set Up A Free eMail Account in (Yahoo, MSN, Hotmail, GMail) .
Next to the bus route schedules we display the Denver Post Classifieds Job Kiosk.
Mary Dempsey, Chicago Public Library Commissioner "It's fine to say that Google is Google-izing the world" but if you're poor and trying to apply for a job, often the only way to do it is online and the only place to do it is at the public library."
A librarian lurks on a perch, or, at a rare moment, sits at a public service desk. Two adults meet around a corner. "Hi!" Person A exclaims. "I just got laid off today, too".
The "curious contradiction"…"Librarians of the nineteenth century were constantly and, one might say, painfully being reminded of the latest needs of their working class public. They were faced with a curious contradiction: In periods of economic stress when appropriations were pruned down, enforced idleness resulted in an increased pressure on their resources….The library management at Lawrence, Massachusetts was so sensitive to the ebb and flow of local business activities that one gets a fair picture of fluctuating economic fortunes of the city by reading the library reports. In 1874 we are told that the registration figures were not likely to increase because of the transient nature of the populations in manufacturing cities, but the closing of the mills, or some similar cause, might result in a considerable increase in circulation. Compare with "Libraries See More Use, Less Funding" about the Troy Public Library and "Library use increases dramatically as economy sags, funding declines . The library in Brookline, Massachusetts was proud to provide a rendezvous for the unemployed…called "a safe asylum for hands and brains that might, through forced idleness and discouragement, be led to harm".
"We already know that through their power to educate and to inspire, libraries level the playing field for underserved communities. It is the library that opens the door to life-changing books and provides access to the world beyond our communities. Perhaps most importantly, libraries exist as centers of culture, community and learning," he wrote in a December 2008 piece for The Huffington Post. "As the nation continues to experience a sharp and jarring economic downturn, local libraries are providing valuable free tools and resources to help Americans of all ages through this time of uncertainty."
The data backs him up. A September 2008 Harris Poll found that around 75 percent of Americans have a library card and have visited their local public library in the past year, an increase from 65 percent about two years ago. The same poll showed that 92 percent Americans "view their local library as an important education resource," and about 70 percent cited their local library as either "a pillar of the community," a "community center," a "family destination," or a "cultural center." Also, "Libraries Stand Ready to Help in Tough Economic Times"
As in Depression, strained libraries give lifeline during tough times Sunday, March 22, 2009, Page: UW4A young Juanita Rarick found refuge at the Howe Library in Albany's South End during the Great Depression. There, the girl could escape the instability of the world outside. "I'd sit there and read quite a bit, maybe a couple of hours," an 88-year-old Rarick told me last year when I wrote about the Howe. Sadly, she passed away last summer, but I remembered how she spoke fondly about the sanctuary the library provided -- a sharp contrast to what was going on in Albany and the country. "
The United States sought a seat on the UN Human Rights Council at this time to underscore our commitment to human rights and to join the efforts of all those nations seeking to make the Council a body that fulfills its promise. We deeply appreciate the support of all UN member states that endorsed our bid. We pledge to work closely with the international community to ensure that together we address the pressing human rights concerns of our time.
IFLA advocates a global information commons through which all people will be enabled to seek and
impart information. Its realisation requires, at a minimum, ubiquitous access to sufficient affordable
bandwidth, up to date and affordable ICTs, unrestricted multilingual access to information and skills
development programs to enable all to both access information and disseminate their own while
respecting the fundamental right of human beings to both access and express information without
Libraries supporting societies
A lot of people in small towns really rely on their libraries and our library is vibrant and lively, said Mary Pasek Williams, director of the Towanda District LIbrary
kjpnenix: WEre the center of Town, said Lori Priebe, Directoer of Danvers township library
"The Neighborhood Resource Center is designed as a one-stop resource for a variety of programs, and includes a full-service library branch."
"The resource center is a collaborative effort between the Partnership for Strong Families, along with Department of Children and Families, the Alachua County Library District and the United Way of Central Florida."
I volunteered to work here last week. These partnerships are integral to libraries and communities.
Public librarians in the twenty-first century will be organizing their work from a viewpoint that a world view with a human rights perspective will move librarians to work passionately on behalf of human capabilities. (McCook and Phenix, 2008, p. 33).
A year after the Vienna thing UNESCO published the Public Library Manifesto, which states:
Freedom, prosperity and the development of society and of individuals are fundamental human values. They will only be attained through the ability of well-informed citizens to exercise their democratic rights and to play an active role in society. Constructive participation and the development of democracy depend on satisfactory education as well as on free and unlimited access to knowledge, thought, culture and information.
The public library, the local gateway to knowledge, provides a basic condition for lifelong learning, independent decision-making and cultural development of the individual and social groups.
This Manifesto proclaims UNESCO's belief in the public library as a living force for education, culture and information, and as an essential agent for the fostering of peace and spiritual welfare through the minds of men and women.
UNESCO therefore encourages national and local governments to support and actively engage in the development of public libraries.
"human rights are then an arena in which the traditional forces and values of librarianship can establish connections, dialogue, and advocacy in the 21st century. Where Social Justice Meets Librarianship" in Info for Social Change
If the last half of the twentieth century witnessed a dramatic expansion in global inter-personal electronic communication, there was just as dramatic expansion worldwide in the spread of human rights Birdsall
The public library was once known as "the people's university". It was the unifying and equalizing force in a democratic society where a knowledge-based hierarchy was accepted and education was the accepted ticket to ascend the ladder. In the early stages of the information revolution, the public library became "the people's office". Local libraries provided typewriters, photocopy machines, and other office equipment for the under supplied, upwardly mobile library user. It's the information society now, and the library is most easily identified as "the peoples' information technology (IT) center. As the primary public gateway to the information highway into the world wide web, the IT center of the library today is a multipurpose human rights center. Public internet access enables the right to employment "
to end the culture wars; move America’s foreign policy toward a more cooperative and
multilateral approach; rebuild a strong, positive role for government; achieve universal
health care; reform and expand America’s educational system; start the transition to a
clean energy economy; and much more. If progressive governance can achieve these
objectives, the loyalty of this generation to the progressive cause seems assured.
New Progressive America:
The Millennial Generation
David Madland and Ruy Teixeira May 2009
Washington, D.C> Cenetr for American Progress.
Concern for human and
> economic rights was an important element in the founding of SRRT and
> an urgent concern today.
Human Development Report 2004
Cultural Liberty in Today’s Diverse World
Accommodating people’s growing demands for their inclusion in society, for respect of their ethnicity, religion, and language, takes more than democracy and equitable growth. Also needed are multicultural policies that recognize differences, champion diversity and promote cultural freedoms, so that all people can choose to speak their language, practice their religion, and participate in shaping their culture—so that all people can choose to be who they are.
IFLA Multicultural Library Manifesto
Formal public knowledge and understanding of human rights appeared to be low but general public interest in human rights was high.