Principles for the Networked World

In the 21st century, technological advancement will continue to be the only constant in a world of change. Libraries must stay at the forefront of the digital revolution and participate in a wide range of related policy debates to ensure their continued use and relevance.  Library professionals must determine the best and most effective ways to incorporate technology into their organizations and missions.

The advent and use of new technologies affects almost every area of library service—collections and reference, information literacy, community service—as well as policy areas like access to information, privacy, copyright and freedom of speech. As a result, librarians and library administrators are constantly confronted with questions and concerns born from changing technologies and the issues these technologies create.

To address these concerns and aid in the decision-making process, the American Library Association works to provide policy guidance and frameworks for a number of important discussions and debates related to operating a library in a networked world that is constantly evolving.

In April 2001, 40 representatives of the library community met to identify key telecommunication and information policy issues that impact the networked world and to draft new statements of library principles to update the Principles of the National Information Infrastructure published in 1993. The work of this group was subsequently reviewed widely by the library community and endorsed by ALA Council.

Principles for the Networked World illustrates the key role libraries play in shaping the ongoing digital revolution and identifies the policies required to play those roles. They should be used to identify library concerns in information policy deliberations and legislative debate.