American Library Association joins Declaration of Independence Road Trip

Contact: Frank DiFulvio


ALA News Release

For Immediate Release

July 3, 2001

American Library Association joins "Declaration of Independence Road Trip"

Washington D.C. -- The American Library Association (ALA) is honored to be an integral part of the "Declaration of Independence Road Trip," celebrating the historic document's 225th anniversary. ALA President John W. Berry will join producer Norman Lear and other dignitaries on the hollowed steps of the Jefferson memorial July 3 at 10 a.m. for a press conference officially launching the non-partisan event. They will then travel to Philadelphia's Independence Hall for a special reading of the document at 7:30 p.m. on July 4.

An original copy of the "People's Document" will then begin a three-and-a-half year journey across this vast and diverse nation -- to both celebrate and educate people about the words that still boldly define who we would like to become as both a people and a nation.

There are more than 122,000 public, academic, school and special libraries across America, serving a diverse array of communities. Therefore, it is appropriate that the initial stop on the Road Trip will be the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library, and that this document of freedom will visit libraries across the country - where people go to freely access information and debate both the meaning and application of ideas. Libraries enhance the viewing experience of such an important and historic document by providing people, especially children, with the relevant educational and information resource material to more fully appreciate the continued relevance of the Declaration of Independence even today.

"Libraries have a long and proud history of serving all those who make up the rich cultural mosaic that we call the American family. That is why we are genuinely proud to help celebrate the single most important document that speaks to this very theme - that we should not rest until we are all treated equally and fairly in a nation that gave birth to the once radical idea that we are all created equal," said ALA President John Berry.

In fact, Berry opened his ALA presidency in June 2001 with a staged
conversation with Thomas Jefferson. In his dialogue with our third U.S. President, Berry focused on America's democratic roots and the historic roles of libraries.

"We believe that libraries are a cornerstone of Democracy where the Declaration of Independence would feel comfortably at home," said ALA's Washington Office Executive Director Emily Sheketoff. "Libraries across the country provide an equal opportunity for all those who wish to view such an historic and cultural treasure with the chance to do so - inspiring young people with both the promise and possibility of Jefferson's inspirational words extolling the virtues of freedom, justice and equality for all," she concluded.

Lear and Internet entrepreneur David Hayden bought the rare 1776 copy of the Declaration of Independence in an online auction last year for $8.14 million. The document is one of 25 known surviving copies of the official first printing of the Declaration adopted by the Continental Congress in Philadelphia on July 4, 1776.