“Freedom, Prosperity and the Development of society and 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.”
So says UNESCO in the introduction to its Public Library Manifesto . The manifesto goes on to say:
“The librarian is an active intermediary between users and resources. Professional and continuing education of the librarian is indispensable to ensure adequate services.”
Professional librarians are dedicated to providing access to information and resources and work to a strong ethical code. The Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals (CILIP) Code of Professional Practice contains the following clause which emphasises the role librarians must fulfil:
“One of the distinguishing features of professions is that their knowledge and skills are at the service of society at large, and do not simply serve the interests of the immediate customer. Members should therefore:
1. Consider the public good, both in general and as it refers to particular vulnerable groups, as well as the immediate claims arising from their employment and their professional duties.
2. Promote equitable access for all members of society to public domain information of all kinds and in all formats.
3. Strive to achieve an appropriate balance within the law between demands from information users, the need to respect confidentiality, the terms of their employment, the public good and the responsibilities outlined in this Code.
4. Encourage and promote wider knowledge and acceptance of, and wider compliance with, this Code, both among colleagues in the information professions and more widely among those whom we serve.”
This website will publish the facts about Public Library Services in the UK, and about the work librarians do. Its aim is to provide a balanced view of the service and the profession, and to discuss some ideas for the way forward. We don’t want to lose our libraries, and we aim to ensure future generations continue to enjoy access to the fundamental values identified by UNESCO and provided by free unbiased public libraries and librarians.