Posts Tagged ‘social responsibility’

Access to Information as a Social Responsibility

Friday, February 6th, 2009

Recently, I’ve come to the realization that Intellectual Freedom, as envisioned by this committee and ALA in general, is a social responsibilities issue. For librarians, providing access to all types of information is a fundamental responsibility, and one that is taken very seriously.  This responsibility is one we have to all patrons, regardless of their backgrounds and regardless of what kind of library we are working in. Of course, we are all limited by budgets and collection development policies, and seemingly simple words like access and information can get bogged down by things like scope and value considerations, but this cornerstone of librarianship prevails.

For a librarian to include a variety of information sometimes means including more information than might be proportionately available. This also involves sometimes including material in a collection that has been proven to be wrong (or is highly contended), in order  to fully demonstrate the spectrum of information made available on any one subject.  These aspects of collection development are known and discussed. Also discussed is the fact that an individual librarian’s (or library’s) views should affect the provision of this variety of information.

One aspect of collection development I have never heard discussed is this:

For a librarian to most honestly provide the greatest degree of access, must the bibliographer’s biases be made known at a certain point, so that patrons (and/or supervisors and colleagues) may have more knowledge and information with regards to what informed certain purchases? If excellent service is being provided, does it matter? Does knowing a librarian’s opinions vary from your own make one more likely to put the collection under greater scrutiny? Or is the reason I haven’t heard this discussed because we, as a profession trust one another to allow our commitment to this responsibility to transcend our individual politics?

-Xima Avalos