Library Corner: Freedom of information |

Library Corner: Freedom of information

Celebrate March 16

Polly Gallagher
Grand County Library District's executive director

Freedom of Information Day, March 16, is a celebration of James Madison, father of the Constitution and advocate for openness in government. The American Library Association takes this day to recognize “the championing, protecting, and promoting of public access to government information and the public’s right to know.”

The Grand County Library District Board of Trustees and library staff believe that “the right to read and the right to free access to Library resources for all personas of all ages are essential to the intellectual freedom that is basic to democracy,” according to the library district’s policy manual.

Growing up, I was a fan of George Orwell. His novel, “1984,” sparked my amazement at the ways information and ideas can be corrupted. I’ve had the opportunity to travel to places where information is not disseminated, but denied or brushed under the rug. In looking at newspapers, it was important to look at what stories weren’t in the papers to discover what news was really happening.

If you’re interested in discussing economics, you’ll hear me rant (not on my soapbox, because I now live in the United States and can rant on U.S. soil, unlike other countries) about consumers needing to make informed decisions, rather than having decisions restricted for them. Ensuring access to information ensures the opportunity for an informed citizenry.

Celebrate the wonderfully American concept of freedom of information. Visit your library. Sign up for a library card. Do some searching and travel down many eye-opening rabbit holes.

An infographic on the Freedom of Information Act.
Grand County Library District/Courtesy image

 Excellent resources to use:

  • Check out the variety of newspapers available both in our libraries, as well as online.
  • View all the GCLD online research databases. The benefit of a database over a website? Vetted, no advertisements, and you drive your research rather than algorithms and artificial intelligence driving it for you.
  • American Antiquarian Society has many first-person accounts and periodicals from 1684–1912.
  • Check the 300s and 900s in our non-fiction sections for a mixture of social sciences and history regarding the U.S. government.
  • Try a biography or autobiography by someone who was there.
  • Read the “Freedom to Read” or “Freedom to View” statements available in GCLD’s policy manual.
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