Librarians and Human Rights

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Public libraries in the United States have exhibited continual progress in the expansion of services since the establishment of this public good in the mid-nineteenth century. While the discourse about public library services among its practitioners has evolved along the lines of general progressive thought, this discourse has been framed in a fashion that reflects U.S. values. Even after the adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in 1948 U.S. public librarianship has largely refrained from describing services using a more universal language of human rights. The reasons for this have much to do with political decisions made outside of librarianship that nevertheless have affected the way U.S. librarians describe and activate services. Thus, while we assert that U. S. public libraries do provide services that embody human rights, we also recognize that the connections for front line public librarians in the U.S. to the larger global discourse have yet to be made in a clear manner

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2010 Jean E. Coleman Library Outreach Lecture