B.5 Libraries and the Public Good (Old Number 50)


B.5.1 Nominations to the Posts of Librarian of Congress and of Archivist of the United States (Old Number 50.7)

The privilege of reviewing nominations made by the President of the United States to the highest government posts in their respective professions is one accorded the major national professional organizations. The American Library Association strongly supports the extension of a similar privilege to ALA, enabling it to review the recommendations and nominations for the positions of Librarian of Congress and of Archivist of the United States whenever new appointments to those posts are under consideration.

(See ‘‘Policy Reference File’’: July 1975 CD #58, 1986-1987 CD #18 - PDF, 8 pgs)


B.5.2 Financing of Libraries (Old Number 50.8)

In order to assist libraries facing severe economic problems resulting from inflation, the American Library Association will engage in a broad media information program to make the public aware of the benefits to be gained through tax support of libraries, and will simultaneously explore public financing alternatives for libraries facing financial problems.


B.5.3 Disarmament and Conflict Solving Information in Libraries (Old Number 50.10)

Libraries should make available and readily accessible information on possibilities for disarmament and alternative ways of solving conflicts.


B.5.4 Nuclear Freeze, the Arms Race and National Security (Old Number  50.11)

The American Library Association supports the concept of a nuclear freeze on the development and deployment of nuclear weapons. It urges libraries to establish balanced up-to-date collections of library materials on national security in the nuclear age, on nuclear arms, and the movements for disarmament and a nuclear moratorium. The Association furthermore urges libraries to stimulate public interest in these issues and make information available about various courses of action concerned individuals may take.

 (See ‘‘Policy Reference File.’’)


B.5.5 Environmental Issues (Old Number 50.12)

The American Library Association urges librarians and library governing boards to collect and provide information on the condition of our Earth, its air, ground, water, and living organisms from all available sources.

(See ‘‘Policy Reference File’’: 1989-1990 CD #48 - PDF, 1 pg)


B.5.6 Federal Legislative Policy (Old Number 51)

The Federal Government’s Role in Library and Information Services **

A democratic society depends on the Federal government’s ensuring the right of access for all its citizens to a comprehensive range of knowledge and variety of communications media. Through declaration of policy, by legislation, regulation, and the appropriation of financial support, the Executive Branch and the Congress of the United States have responded to requests for a Federal role in support of libraries as vital institutions serving the needs and well-being of individuals and the nation. Thus, while most libraries are regional and local institutions, under local, state, or private control, the Federal government plays an essential role in helping ensure access to resources and services for all.

Open government is vital to a democracy. Federal policy makers must continue to recognize the unique role of libraries, their delivery systems, and their community base in the dissemination of information to the public. The Federal government must continue to assume special responsibility to ensure that information produced or funded by the government is readily accessible to the people through the nation’s libraries within the constraints of national security, privacy, efficient decision-making, and costs.

The Federal government must also provide leadership in the development and application of new technologies and services. Federal action stimulates local pilot programs for innovative services designed for specific user groups, programs that require specialized materials and technology, and education programs for library personnel.

Emerging technologies and advancements in telecommunications are altering the profile of library service. The Federal government initiates and facilitates cooperation, encourages resource sharing among all types of libraries, and establishes standards and practices for development of quality library networks that extend beyond state and national boundaries.  The Department of Education through its mandate to assist libraries across the country raises standards of service and develops new programs to benefit library users. The Department not only administers important grant programs to public libraries, elementary and secondary school library media centers, and academic and research libraries, but also provides leadership, technical assistance, and dissemination of information. These functions must continue.

The Federal government also plays a critical role in the compilation and timely dissemination of statistical information, including data about libraries, information essential to long-range planning, and library development.

In an age of international communication and interchange of resources, the Federal government is pivotal in the development of libraries as institutions that transcend national boundaries. International protocols, participation in international organizations, transnational data flow and monetary policies are within the domain of the Federal government and all affect libraries throughout the world. The Federal role complements, without supplanting, the basic responsibilities of state and local governments and institutions to assure quality library and information service.

**The ALA Federal Legislative Policy, the product of an on-going revision, was adopted by Council in January, 1993. The entire text, from which the preceding is taken, is available online (PDF - 16 pgs), or may be ordered for free from the ALA Washington Office, 1615 New Hampshire Ave NW, 1st Floor, Washington DC 20009-2520, Phone : 202-628-8410, Toll Free Number: 1-800-941-8478.

Sections of the ALA Federal Legislative Policy are:

  • The Federal Government’s Role in Library and Information Services.
  •  Access to Information: Public Access to Federal Information: Public Access to Federal Information; Depository Libraries; Sale of Government Information; Access to Unpublished and Classified Government Information; Equal Access to Library Services.
  • Intellectual Freedom.
  • Federal Policies: Postal Rates and Quality of Postal Service; Statistics; Taxation; Copyright; Preservation of Library Materials.
  • Federal Programs: Federal Libraries: A National Resource; Library of Congress; Other National Libraries; Federal Libraries; Bibliographic and Reference Services; National Commission on Libraries and Information Science; U.S. Department of Education; National Archives and Records Administration; National Foundation on the Arts and the Humanities; Federal Support for State Library Agencies; Federal Aid to Libraries, Systems, Education Agencies and Institutions; School Library Media Centers; Technical, Professional and Vocational Institution Libraries; College and Research Libraries; Public Libraries; Youth Services; Services to People in Institutions; Federal Support for Library Facilities.
  • Information Technologies: National Library and Information Networks; Technical Standards; Telecommunications and Broadcast Media.
  • Education, Research, and Personnel Education: Education; Research; Personnel.
  • White House Conference on Library and Information Services.
  • Equal Rights Amendment.
  • International Programs: United Nations; United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO); International Exchange of Persons; International Flow of Publications; Florence Agreement; United States Libraries and Information Centers Abroad; International Copyright; International Postal Policy; Economic and Educational Development Programs.
  • Existing Federal Laws Affecting Librarians, Libraries and Their Users.