ALA Past President releases book on Libraries & Democracy

Contact: Larra Clark


ALA News Release

For Immediate Release

June 11, 2001

ALA Past President releases book on "Libraries & Democracy"

During World War II when the future of democracy was uncertain, Franklin D. Roosevelt described libraries as "the great symbols of the freedom of the mind….essential to the functioning of a democratic society." American Library Association (ALA) Past President Nancy Kranich begins her new collection of essays with Roosevelt's sentiment in mind. From Kathleen de la Pena McCook to James Billington, leading-edge library and information specialists share their insights on the role libraries play in advancing democracy.

One of the few institutions in the world where people have free access to information and thereby the opportunity to participate in all aspects of society, the American library truly symbolizes the ideals of democracy. In "Libraries & Democracy: The Cornerstones of Liberty," prominent contributors from a variety of information professions (including Joan Durrance, a community outreach activist, and Jorge Reina Schement, an information policy scholar whose research for the FCC led to official recognition of the Digital Divide) tackle critical issues about the roles and responsibilities of libraries to our fundamental democratic values. Thoughtful essays such as Susan B. Kretchmer's analysis of recent court decisions about Internet access and Thomas Blanton's discussion on information ethics ("From the White House E-mail to the Stasi Files"), shed light on how policies affect the free flow of ideas in our democracy.

As filtering and copyright protection take center stage in libraries everywhere, librarians, advocates, and policymakers alike need to understand how these actions challenge equity of access and the public's right to know. This collection of essays will define the important relationship between libraries and democracy for generations to come and how libraries can ensure that everyone can participate in our democracy in the Information Age.