Florida Libraries are Fundamental to Freedom

On May 19, 2023, I became President of the Florida Library Association. At the conference in Dayton Beach, I unveiled the Presidential theme: Florida Libraries are Fundamental to Freedom. Below is the opening portion of the speech explaining the theme and how it is important to the work that libraries are doing today.

Florida libraries are fundamental to freedom.

The drafters of the Declaration of Independence believed in the essential rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Since 1776, our nation has struggled to apply these principles equally across all its residents in order to create that elusive more perfect union. At its core, the freedoms that Americans seek are the same freedoms supported by our libraries. Of these aspects of liberty, three specific freedoms stand out for me.

Florida libraries support the freedom to participate. In an increasingly fractious society, our buildings remain the one space where everyone is welcome. Through our libraries, residents can find all the tools and resources needed to live their lives. Whether it is using public computers to apply for benefits, meeting neighbors at a children’s story hour, or to register to vote and actually vote, libraries remain central to our communities. Eric Klinenberg in his book, Palaces for the People, states that a founding principle of libraries is, “that all people deserve free, open access to our shared culture and heritage, which they can use to any end they see fit.”

Read the full speech found on the Efficient Librarian website.

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