Now that Barack Obama has been voted the Democratic party 'presumptive' nominee for the US 2008 general elections, I want to take a trip down memory lane and highlight a few points in his keynote speech at the ALA annual conference in Chicago in June 2005. I was very fortunate to be in the audience and left the conference hall thinking "hmm ... Obama supports libraries". Here are 6 poignant points from his speech to ponder on. The full text of the speech Bound to the Word can be read in the August 2005 issue of American Libraries
- Librarians are guardians of truth and knowledge, librarians must be thanked for their role as champions of privacy, literacy, independent thinking and most of all reading.
- More than a building that houses books and data, the library represents a window to a larger world, the place where we've always come to discover big ideas and profound concepts that help move the American story forward and the human story forward. That's the reason why, since ancient antiquity, whenever those who seek power would want to control the human spirit, they have gone after libraries and books.
- At a time when book banning is back in vogue, libraries remind us that truth isn't about who yells the loudest, but who has the right information.
- I believe that if we want to give our children the best possible chance in life, if we want to open the doors of opportunity while they're young and teach them the skills they'll need to succeed later on, then one of our greater responsibilities as citizens, as educators and as parents is to insure that every American child can read and read well. That's because literacy is the most basic currency of the knowledge economy that we're living in today.
- Right now, children come home from their first doctor's appointment with an extra bottle of formula. They should come home with their first library card or their first copy of Good Night Moon.
I have memorized Good Nigh! Moon, by the way: "In the great green room there was a telephone . ..." I love that book. It sould be as easy to get a book as it is to rent a DVD or pick up McDonald's. What if instead of a toy in every Happy Meal there was a book?
- I remember at different junctures in my life feeling lost, feeling adrift, and feeling that somehow walking into a library and seeing those books, seeing human knowledge collected in that fashion, accessible, ready for me, would always lift my spirits. So I am grateful to be able to acknowledge the importance of librarians and the work that you do. 1 want to work with you to ensure that libraries continue to be sanctuaries of learning, where we are free to read and consider what we please without the fear that Big Brother may be peering over our shoulders to find out what we're up to.