On Tuesday I had the honor of joining a launch event with the National Library of Peru. The library, working with the Library of Valencia, have translated Expect more into Spanish. It is a part of the National Library of Peru’s Reading, Library and Community Book seriesBest yet, they have released it to the world!
You can link to the Spanish eBook here: https://bpdigital.bnp.gob.pe/info/ampliemos-expectativas-exijamos-mejores-bibliotecas-para-lidiar-con-la-complejidad-del-mundo-actual-00638600
Here are my remarks for the release:
I am so happy to join you today for the launch of Expect more as part of the “Reading, Library and Community” Book series. I want to thank the National Library of Peru and the librarians of Valencia for their work translating and publishing the Spanish language version.
The fact that we are meeting online during the pandemic, where vaccine distribution is happening so unevenly and frankly inequitably across the globe supports the central argument of the book. That is, that our communities need more from our libraries than book palaces or buildings of glass and steal. They need a community partner and strong advocate. Our communities need libraries, and the librarians that build and manage them, to work with citizens, students, professionals, and all of us to dream bigger.
As we start to emerge from the devastation of COVID, we are left as a global community in a perilous state. As countries we are immersed in deeper ideological divides that often politicize health care. A wealth divide between rich and poor, emerging economies and established has not only been highlighted by the past year but deepened. None of us can escape the toll of isolation or the death of those we care for. Time in isolation has sent too many into conspiracy theories and social media rabbit holes, so that we doubt the very science that can save us from the virus.
This past year has highlighted the need for professionals and organizations dedicated to knowledge, grounded in the very local, and driven to advocate for a better society. The path to healing runs through local agencies of good will that can empower every citizen to succeed in a digital age regardless of wealth or privilege.
And yet for too many libraries, the closing of physical buildings meant to closing of service. In the United States too many great libraries were reduced to WiFi access in parking lots. We must expect more of our libraries. We must expect libraries to first help connect those who have no access to the internet. Once connected our citizens, our students, our professionals must expect libraries to use the internet to teach. They must expect the voices of library professionals to identify needs in the community and advocate on the community’s behalf.
We must expect our university, public, school, and special libraries to see their communities not as people in need, but the most precious resource of any nation. Librarians must realize that they are not a service for the community, but part of the community. Our housewives and farmers, and artists are the true collection of any library. The books and materials produced are essential tools, but just tools. True knowledge does not rest in any volume, but in the minds of the reader, the writer, the artist, the craftsman, the child. It is this human collection that is the work of the library – work to unleash the potential of people in making a better world.
This then, is the mission of the librarian – to improve society through knowledge creation in their community. Librarians make the world better – neighbor by neighbor, town by town, country by county – by helping all of us find meaning in our lives, and help our communities make smarter choices.
No other agency – not city hall, nor the police – has such a crucial role to play today. A vaccine in the arm will not heal a nation – that takes a dedicated corps of professionals dedicated to knowledge, transparency, access, and openness.
This is not a small burden I put upon our libraries I know. What’s worse, no book, mine or otherwise, has all the answers on how we can make all of this happen. The solution will only come from people of skill and good will coming together to make the better world. My greatest hope for this new edition is that it can play a small role in the great conversation yet to come. Thanks again to the National Library of Peru and to all who made this possible.