By Pamela Nyberg Kiesner, Director, Bellingham Public Library
It is more important than ever for individuals and organizations to stand strong against hate and intolerance and support equity, diversity and inclusion, as our nation reflects on our recent Presidential election and looks to the future.
The election of the President of the United States is among the most important steps we take as citizens to express our commitment to our country and our faith in democracy. Yet this year’s contentious campaign season highlighted deep divisions among us. These divisions are not new, but the process of choosing our nation’s leader revealed their depth and breadth.
Public libraries are in a unique and special position to promote equity, diversity and inclusion, and take a strong stand against hate and intolerance. We serve as safe havens and as trusted community resources for all. Today I join my library colleagues across the nation speaking out, reaffirming our collective commitment to offering welcoming and vital services and spaces.
Bellingham Public Library welcomes you regardless of what you look like, what faith you choose, what disabilities you may have, who you love, where you come from, what languages you speak, how much money you have or where you live.
We take very seriously our responsibilities to uphold freedom of speech and open exchange of knowledge and ideas, yet we will not tolerate hate speech or actions that threaten anyone’s safety or dignity.
We celebrate inclusion and opportunity for everyone, encouraging an environment where diverse ideas flourish and we oppose discrimination in all its forms. We offer ways for people to come together, face-to-face or electronically, to find information and resources to meet a variety of needs and interests.
At a time when critically evaluating information for factual accuracy is vitally important, we promote and provide access to credible sources, and help all community members find them. We offer access to materials, tools and expertise to help people be discerning knowledge consumers.
Public library core values are clear: free access, intellectual freedom, privacy and confidentiality. At the Bellingham Public Library, these responsibilities shape everything we do in service of our mission: Connecting our community with each other and the world to read, learn, meet and discover. We stand for these values unwaveringly.
Pamela Nyberg Kiesner is the director of the Bellingham Public Library and the chair of the Library Council of Washington.