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Values of Librarianship

ALA Core Values of Librarianship
  • Access
  • Confidentiality / Privacy
  • Democracy
  • Diversity
  • Education & Lifelong Learning
  • Intellectual Freedom
  • Preservation
  • The Public Good
  • Professionalism
  • Service
  • Social Responsibility


Academic Library

Julie’s Statement on Values

Being asked to run for ALA President is daunting - and I’m NOT just talking about the preparation for the election - or the election itself or the thought of what happens should I be privileged enough to win! In fact, the most difficult thing for me (besides taking recent pictures!) became the process of articulating - in writing - my statement of purpose and my values. It’s not that I can’t express how I feel about the profession and it’s not that I can’t tell you what I believe in or am committed to verbally or even in an impromptu discussion or presentation. In fact, a large part of my work has been strategic planning and this process begins and ends with us determining or reaffirming our values to ourselves, our institutions and our communities. What became difficult for me was the process of finalizing what I feel is critical to the field, most important at this time, and certainly what I use as my foundation for decision making and my daily activities.

With that said, I decided to do what all good librarians do and sought the wisdom of others. I have long followed the good work of the Core Values Task Force and Council discussions on this topic and throughout the last few decades there is always excellent commentary that includes what one might think ... "You’ve left out ..." "I support all but can we choose fewer ..." "I want more ..." "They should be categorized." I also hear "They are outdated because they are missing ..." "Do we still need this concept stated this way?" as well as "They are timeless ...." No one disputes what is important or even critical, we just seem to want to create the perfect list - which illustrates to me why our field and our concept of service is so unique.

In seeking the wisdom of others, what we see the most is that no matter the list, we want to make the ALA list of values "our own" as well as add other categories, other values and context. In fact, when one researches core values, reference after reference is made to institutions who have assessed their environment and chosen, revised or reaffirmed their core values and there are just as many similarities as there are differences in the values chosen! In the lists we also find individuals identifying what they value for themselves within the context of not only the profession but in their current position or library and libraries.

But what do I value? In my first list I had chosen many of the ALA values, but also concepts near and dear to me including collaboration, engagement, and expertise - especially expertise. In addition, I see a number of values as being the foundation for all others. So instead of listing specific values I will identify how I use or "feel" about the values. (And, of course, I’m not the first one to do this AND it’s a great exercise for connecting values and considering them as a whole as a support to our profession.)

  • Diversity, intellectual freedom, and public good should be the foundation for all values and thus the infrastructure for what we do and the decisions we make every day.
  • Democracy, access and confidentiality are intertwined. One can’t have democracy without free access and a guarantee of confidentiality and - of course - intellectual freedom.
  • Social responsibility and the public good are "one."
  • Professionalism supports service and service is how we ensure education and lifelong learning.
  • Inherent in our concept of service is preserving and making what we preserve - in a democracy - accessible to all.
  • Our profession is a service profession and the expertise of those in our profession makes all other core values possible.
  • Our profession is one that engages and connects people to the information, content, resources and other people they need. This is done - in all environments - through collaboration of experts.
  • We can design and build the best library environment, assemble the perfect resources, make the resources accessible and create services for the breadth of clientele, but the most important element is the expertise within these structures and processes ... the expertise that connects the constituents to what they want and need.

And I could go on - but I won’t. Instead I challenge others to connect these concepts (again - as many have done) to define their own values for their work and - ultimately for their constituents and their profession.

Julie Todaro
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