Blog Action Day 2013: Human Rights

Happy Blog Action Day 2013! This year’s topic is human rights and I wanted to just share a few thoughts on how I think about human rights and libraries and archives.

Article 26 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights states in part that “everyone has the right to education” and Article 27 states in part that “everyone has the right freely to participate in the cultural life of the community, to enjoy the arts and to share in scientific advancement and its benefits.” I believe that libraries and archives support these rights and that librarians and archivists do important work in ensuring access to documents, objects, and materials that allow people to learn and to remember. Our work is vital to the communities in which we work, whether we are in academic, government, special, or public spheres.

Libraries and archives provide access (and help accessing) documents that allow people to learn outside of formal classrooms, supplement what they are learning inside of classrooms, and explore new interests and passions. While there may be a wealth of information available online, librarians and archivists are still vital in connecting people with that information and helping people to realize that not everything is available online (especially with regards to archives). We are not just collectors, but vital connectors, not gatekeepers, but teachers in making sure that information and resources are not only available to the wealthy, but to anyone who is curious and wants to know more.

Many of our organizations provide programming and spaces for exhibits, shows, and meetings. We help maintain the “cultural life of the community” and provide safe spaces as well. Often known as the “heart of the university” on college and university campuses, libraries are often the heart of the community as well, just as archives are the memory of the community.

I believe everyone has the right to access information, to read freely and widely, to see documents from the past that help us to understand who we are and where we are going, and to be confident that the library and archives will always be places that are accessible and open. I believe in upholding the Universal Declaration of Human Rights with our work and our lives and am happy to be part of two professions that care. We care and therefore we do great things.

So on this Blog Action Day 2013, go visit your nearest library or archive and be glad that librarians and archivists care enough to keep fighting for funding, for time, and for recognition to ensure that access to information remains open to all.

Take care and I’ll be back on Friday with more. Allons-y!

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