Philosophy of Librarianship

A set of resources for understanding modern librarianship

Table of Contents

The Mission of all Libraries

Whether a library is in place to serve the public, a school, a college or university, or other organizations, all libraries share a similar core of defining policies. There are many professional organizations that provide resources that help librarians and library staff become familiar with those policies, and learn to put them to use in their day-to-day lives.

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Library Bill of Rights: American Library Association (ALA)

Perhaps the most fundamental resource for helping librarians and library staff understand the role libraries play in their communities is the Library Bill of Rights from the American Library Association, first approved in 1939. The Library Bill of Rights is supplemented by Interpretations, helping librarians and library staff apply these foundational principles to modern circumstances.

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Censorship & Academic/Intellectual Freedom

The Library Bill of Rights is anchored in the First Amendment to the Constitution. ALA provides resources and guiding documents related to the First Amendment and Censorship and Academic Freedom.

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Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion

The fifth article of the Library Bill of Rights states that “a person’s right to use a library should not be denied or abridged because of origin, age, background, or views.” This simple yet profound statement is further elaborated on by a number of critical resources, including an Interpretation, statements and policies on access to library resources and services, and various standards, competencies, or values for library staff working with different populations.

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Hate Speech & Hate Crimes

Unfortunately, the commitment libraries of all types have to academic/intellectual freedom and equity, diversity, and inclusion also makes libraries, library staff, and library patrons targets for hate speech and hate crimes. ALA has recently prepared a white paper, Hateful Conduct in Libraries: Supporting Library Workers and Patrons, that provides guidance for library employees on these issues.

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Privacy & Confidentiality

Academic/Intellectual Freedom and the right to free inquiry are outlined in Article VII of the Library Bill of Rights. Maintaining privacy and confidentiality has become a minefield of corporate agreements, legal findings, and professional values. Colorado maintains strict laws regarding consumer data protection. The Colorado State Library provides resources to assist libraries in compliance with this and other state laws.

Marmot’s Privacy, Security, and Accessibility Committee is charged with reviewing and recommending policies, system configurations, and procedures for the consortium, as well as setting best practices for member libraries on issues relating to the complex interconnections between privacy, security, and accessibility.  

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