Every­one wel­come at the pub­lic li­brary

Maryland Independent - - Community Forum - Janet Salazar, La Plata The writer is the ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor of the Charles County Pub­lic Li­brary.

Pub­lic li­braries in the United States have a long and val­ued po­si­tion of be­ing a place of neu­tral­ity. A place where all view­points are wel­come. A place where all peo­ple are wel­come. Pub­lic li­braries have been called the great equal­izer be­cause it doesn’t mat­ter if you have money in the bank or if you have no money at all, the pub­lic li­brary has a place for you. We are a com­mu­nity ed­u­ca­tion in­sti­tu­tion. Pub­lic li­braries are con­sid­ered the every­man’s univer­sity or the peo­ple’s univer­sity. We pro­vide a self-paced and self-se­lected ed­u­ca­tion to any­one who has a li­brary card — free of charge. Pub­lic li­braries firmly up­hold the be­lief that an in­formed and ed­u­cated com­mu­nity makes for an in­formed and ed­u­cated gov­ern­ment. Pub­lic li­braries should be free from any in­flu­ence that will push one view­point above an­other.

At the Charles County Pub­lic Li­brary (CCPL), we live our mis­sion ev­ery day: CCPL cre­ates op­por­tu­ni­ties for our com­mu­nity to en­gage, dis­cover, and learn. We make no value judge­ment on what kind of in­for­ma­tion you wish to dis­cover, what top­ics you wish to learn about, or what is­sues you wish to en­gage with. We sim­ply up­hold your right to do so. We make avail­able to you the in­for­ma­tion that you are seek­ing. We con­nect our com­mu­nity to the end- less pos­si­bil­i­ties that are out there to learn about, to dis­cover and to en­gage with. Our com­mu­nity de­serves a pub­lic li­brary that will up­hold their right to ac­cess to in­for­ma­tion and their right to free­dom of speech.

With in­put from our com­mu­nity, our pub­lic li­brary is an in­dis­pens­able as­set that values in­no­va­tion while pro­vid­ing tra­di­tional li­brary ser­vices. Find­ing that bal­ance among all of the dif­fer­ing voices in our com­mu­nity is the chal­lenge of a 21st cen­tury li­brary. The Charles County Pub­lic Li­brary is up to that chal­lenge.

We hope to see you at the pub­lic li­brary. Every­one is wel­come.

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