American Library Association (ALA) president Barbara Stripling convened with 50 school children from Hartford, Connecticut, along with library officials and other Connecticut residents for a signing of the Declaration for the Right to Libraries, a document Stripling issued earlier this year and a centerpiece of her ”Libraries Save Lives” campaign.
The event at the Hartford Public Library (HPL) was one of several scheduled Declaration signings since Stripling issued the document this summer, including a kickoff ceremony in Nashville during August. Today’s event takes place during the AASL (American Association of School Librarians) National Convention in Hartford from November 14-17.
Officials joining Stripling and the students included HPL CEO Matt Poland, along with Richard Conroy, president of the Connecticut Library Association, Terri Kirk, AASL president-elect; Keith Michael Fiels, executive director of ALA; Jennifer Keohane, executive director of the Connecticut Library Consortium; and Carl Antonucci, co-chair of the Connecticut Library Association Legislative Committee.
After introductory remarks from Poland, Stripling spoke to the assembled children and “made a connection between the rights to libraries and declarations being a part American history,” according to Rachel Gary, communications manager at HPL. Stripling reminded her young audience that “declaring your rights is something that Americans have been doing since the birth of the nation.” She urged the children to “continue to publicly demand your right to access information” and also “discussed the importance of this event for continued democracy.”
Following her speech, each child signed the enormous sheet of paper.
The Declaration defends the essential services offered by all kinds of libraries: Public, school, academic, and specialized libraries. The signing took place at a time when Connecticut school media specialists are gathering steam in an advocacy effort seeking stakeholder support for their profession.