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The Constitutional Role of a Library & Why it is Indispensable.

Updated: Apr 28, 2023

Library Bill of Rights
Libraries and the Freedom to Read

Libraries are the perfect place to quench the reading thirst. What could be more enticing to a book worm than a cosmic selection of books to devour . . . for free! But what value does a library bring to the casual reader or maybe even the non-reader? A 19th century famous quote answers this question best . . .

"A library is not a luxury but one of the necessities of life." - Henry Ward Beecher

Let's dive right into a five ways libraries are a necessity of life and central to a free society.

#5 - The Library is an Information Sanctuary

Quiet, calm and friendly is every library's goal. A place of refuge for the weary. A tranquil haven from the chaotic world. Yet it is more than an inviting environment. It is a wealth of every topic imaginable. You will find writing that is relatable, inspirational, enlightening, educational, judicious and so much more. Here curiosity doesn't kill the cat but rewards it with bottomless inclusive literature. Where it can equip itself to better approach life, becoming armed in wisdom to face (and better understand) opposing worldviews--and do so without scrutiny.

"The library is an open sanctuary. It is devoted to intellectual inquiry and contemplation...It is a haven of privacy, a source of both cultural and intellectual sustenance for the individual reader..." - Robert G. Vosper

#4 - Forum of Information & Ideas

For anyone who utilizes public forums on the internet they understand the wealth of experiential information that is clustered within. Anyone can post a question that they haven't been able to get an answer to, and just as many can reply according to their experience and/or expertise. A library may not be an internet forum, but it undoubtedly has a similar function. Whether it be a true story or one created in the imagination of an Author, there is always something to glean from every piece of literature amongst the shelves. Reading the written thoughts of others gives us a peak into a new world with a fresh view.

"The first principle of a free society is an untrammeled flow of words in an open forum." - Adlai Stevenson

#3 - Expanding our Worldview Lens

Beginning at a very young age we all begin to develop a unique lens that helps us make sense of the world around us. This lens influences the way we interpret information, form opinions and is at the core of how we perceive the world and our role in it. Libraries usher in the possibility of viewing the world through a variety of lenses. Lenses of other cultures, beliefs, circumstances, dynamics, struggles, triumphs and more. Collecting different life lenses can be done by consuming an array of literary works and can have a powerful affect on our lives and community. It can unite humanity through compassion as we interpret and learn a new way to contemplate an old scenario. We then have fresh eyes to discover alternate insights on routine thought processes. And it initiates creative ways to problem solve by strengthening the imagination on what could be possible.

"What you believe about who you are, where you came from, affects your whole world view." - Ken Ham

#2 - Freedom to Read

The freedom to read has been an essential part of the American ideal since its conception. Libraries were (and still are) a key component in moving this ideal into motion. Each one is dedicated to providing every community with a safe environment to pursue information of all varieties. Not matter the financial or educational status, EVERYONE is granted equal access! The truest of patriots understand that freedom for everyone also means freedom for those with whom we disagree.

"We believe that every American community must jealously guard the freedom to publish and to circulate, in order to preserve its own freedom to read." - Library Policy

#1 - Essential to our Democracy

The American forefathers believed every human to have an intelligence and innate quality to know what was best for themselves and their families. That, even so, the needs of one citizen would vastly differ from another. There was not going to be a one-size fits all approach to life. They also believed each human holds the God given right to act on that intelligence. That knowledge was an integral piece to progress and growth. A key component to approaching inescapable conflict in a constructive way. Thus, libraries were created! When deciding what materials should be compiled within a library, Librarians and Politicians agreed, "We trust Americans to recognize propaganda and misinformation, and to make their own decisions about what they read and believe. We do not believe they are prepared to sacrifice their heritage of a free press in order to be 'protected' against what others think may be bad for them." -Library Freedom to Read Policy

"Knowledge will forever govern ignorance; and a people who mean to be their own governors must arm themselves with the power which knowledge gives." - James Madison

Freedom to Read is entwined with Freedom of Speech, Freedom of Expression and Freedom of Religion (the right to act upon your own beliefs). You cannot uncoil one from the other without unraveling ALL of them.

Libraries aren't just Books. They ensure Freedom through the Written Word.

The role of libraries is carved in the Constitution as an indispensable tool for a free society. How libraries accomplish this is powerfully stated in the Library Bill of Rights. We recommend everyone read it for themselves. You can't help but hear freedom ring! Click Here to Read


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