American Library Association Updates Core Values 

The American Library Association Council approved five new Core Values that focus on access, equity, intellectual freedom and privacy, the public good, and sustainability. ALA overwhelmingly approved the new Core Values at its meeting Jan. 21, 2024, at LibLearnX, and they went into effect immediately. 

The American Library Association’s Core Values articulate the profession’s principles and highest aspirations. They guide and unite library workers, including staff, volunteers, trustees, advocates, and others who contribute their talents, expertise, and dedication to furthering the mission of the library. The Core Values uplift and support other foundational documents of the American Library Association, including: the Library Bill of Rights, the Code of Ethics, and Libraries: An American Value.

The ALA Council voted to create working groups for each Core Value to further expand on each description. ALA members interested in working on these interpretations, please complete this interest form by February 29. The ALA Executive Board will appoint members to these working groups. 

Here are the five Core Values, with their descriptions: 

Access provides opportunities for everyone in the community to obtain library resources and services with minimal disruption. Library workers create systems that ensure members of their community can freely access the information they need for learning, growth, and empowerment regardless of technology, format, or delivery methods.  

Library workers play a crucial role in fostering equity by actively working to dismantle barriers and create spaces that are accessible, welcoming, and beneficial for all. This is accomplished by recognizing and addressing systemic barriers, biases, and inequalities to create inclusive library environments where everyone can benefit from the library’s offerings and services. 

Intellectual Freedom and Privacy 
Intellectual freedom empowers people to think for themselves and to make informed decisions while respecting each individual’s dignity and independence. Library workers encourage people to cultivate curiosity and form ideas by questioning the world and accessing information from diverse viewpoints and formats without restrictions or censorship. The right to privacy is a crucial safeguard to this freedom, ensuring everyone has the right to develop their thoughts and opinions free of surveillance.  

Public Good 
Public good is working to improve society and protect the rights to education, literacy, and intellectual freedom. Libraries are an essential public good and are fundamental institutions in democratic societies. Library workers provide the highest service levels to create informed, connected, educated, and empowered communities. 

Sustainability means making choices that are good for the environment, make sense economically, and treat everyone equitably. Sustainable choices preserve physical and digital resources and keep services useful now and into the future. By supporting climate resiliency, library workers create thriving communities and care for our common good for a better tomorrow. 

Learn more about ALA’s core values

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