Librarians Believe in the Importance of Access
by Guest Blogger Rebekah Garrety
York County Libraries Digital Services Librarian
Libraries have been a primary source of information since practically the beginning of time. As libraries have grown and evolved, so has our approach to information. If you ever got a librarian started on library stuff you probably heard them emphasize the importance of access. Access is what defines our mission and our service. Our primary goal is to provide our community with access to the materials they need to find whatever information they may be seeking.
Despite our best efforts, librarians simply cannot know everything, but we can know how to go about finding almost anything. It is our job to equip our communities with access to the information they are searching for, and the tools and skills to understand that information. However, this commitment to providing access doesn’t stop with nonfiction information.
Libraries are Centers of Culture and Entertainment
Public libraries are also important centers of culture and entertainment. We pride ourselves on our large print fiction collections, and in many cases, CDs, DVDs, Audiobooks, and other non-print material. Part of playing this role, is being careful to curate a collection that serves a wide variety of audiences, and includes items that support and challenge both popular and unpopular opinions and viewpoints.
The Freedom to Read
The idea of a banned book is probably not unfamiliar, but the reasoning behind banning a book might be. For decades private groups and individuals have worked to limit access to certain reading materials that have been labeled controversial or objectionable in schools, libraries, and other institutions that collect and share reading material. While libraries are not immune to individuals attempting to censor the materials we provide, we are somewhat protected by the Freedom to Read.
The Freedom to Read protects our community against censorship, and explains that every individual that walks through our doors has the right to the information they seek, whether this be an answer to a simple question, a nonfiction book on a topic, or a fictional novel that involves a topic or novel that some might find objectionable. To put it plainly – the Freedom to Read ensures that anyone can read and have access to what they want, regardless of what others might think of that content.
The Freedom to Read is a right that is awarded to every one of the individuals that live in our communities and walk through our doors, and is something that we take very seriously here at York County Libraries. All of our members have a freedom and a right to the content that they want, and as a library, we strive to do our best to provide access to that content.