The Library’s #DayofFacts

Posted on February 15th, 2017 by

On Friday, February 17, the Gustavus Library will join libraries, museums, archives and other cultural institutions to participate in the #DayofFacts campaign. Day of Facts is a social media event dedicated to reminding the public that facts matter, and that our institutions are still trusted sources for truth and knowledge.

On Friday, we will be on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram, informing you about the facts and information you can find at our library. See what other libraries are doing by following the #DayofFacts hashtag.

It’s worth stating that by nature, libraries are not neutral spaces. Our profession’s Code of Ethics outlines the ethical principles that guide our work. Among them are the principles of intellectual freedom and resistance to censorship:

In a political system grounded in an informed citizenry, we are members of a profession explicitly committed to intellectual freedom and the freedom of access to information. We have a special obligation to ensure the free flow of information and ideas to present and future generations.”

Our profession’s Core Values lists democracy, diversity, intellectual freedom, education & lifelong learning, and the public good, among others. Not to mention social responsibility:

“The broad social responsibilities of the American Library Association are defined in terms of the contribution that librarianship can make in ameliorating or solving the critical problems of society; support for efforts to help inform and educate the people of the United States on these problems and to encourage them to examine the many views on and the facts regarding each problem; and the willingness of ALA to take a position on current critical issues with the relationship to libraries and library service set forth in the position statement.”

In this contentious political climate, we do not endorse one party over another, we do not tell you who to vote for or what stance you should take on a particular issue. What we do, however, is operate from our core values and our own library’s mission to say that facts matter, that information matters, that the open and free exchange of ideas matters.

 


3 Comments

  1. […] In the words of participants themselves: “One of the most important sources of facts in our society is a free and independent press” (Special Collections, Archives, and Rare Books at the University of Missouri Libraries). “A fact is an indisputable observation of a natural or social phenomenon” (The Field Museum). And finally, “facts matter, that information matters, that the open and free exchange of ideas matters” (Gustavus Library). […]

  2. SECarlson says:

    Ms. Flock’s article is an excellent example of a liberal story one can tell about the facts one chooses to embrace, and could result in a gross disservice to the libraries’ principals of freedom of expression and resistance to censorship. What we are seeing in colleges across is the country is a bias that suppresses the conservatory story about the facts. The issue of fake news is an interesting one, and one might question whether this label assumes that a predominance of fake news is originating from the right (current administration) or the left (the press, colleges, and universities). One might argue that both sides are to varying degrees incapable of actually realizing the truth. As just one example, how the press and Ms. Flock defined the travel ban as one against “predominantly muslim countries” uses “confirmation bias” and then the resulting “availability bias” to influence this as a “fact” of it being a muslim ban. If it was actually a “muslim ban” wouldn’t it include Indonesia and Egypt? On the other hand, if it is framed as a travel ban imposed on countries that have no effective governmental verification process of ones identity, doesn’t the “fact” you’re telling a story about appear to be quite different? Indonesia and Egypt have effective identification methods yet are the 2 largest muslim countries. Reducing the necessary discussions about border security to the issue of the legitimacy of sanctuary cities that are in direct defiance of federal law is another example of a well intended humanism that avoids discussion of what facts might arise from the continued inability to control our borders. After 8 years of an extremely liberal president and an agreeable press, it’s understandable that one’s ability to be objective as to how facts are presented would be compromised. None of us are immune to availability bias, so it’s imperative that as individuals interested in learning, we open our minds to different perspectives, broaden our understanding and then use our rational brains to make the best decisions we can. If this #dayoffacts becomes one more example of a left wing story that effectively shuts or shouts down conservative or contrary viewpoints, the purpose you propose to support, that of freedom of expression and the resistance to censorship will come up very short. At home and when away at work, I try to view equally CNN, mainstream media, and FoxNewsChannel, and it is quite amazing the different stories you hear about the same “facts.” Perhaps it should be “dayof#stories about the facts matter.” I’m hopeful that at Gustavus, unlike many other campuses, this can be an intellectual discussion on the facts and the stories told about them, and not a reactive, emotional one.

    • Julie Gilbert says:

      Thanks for your thoughts & for taking the time to comment. Certainly reading widely and examining different perspectives on news stories – and paying attention to how different news organizations present the stories – is important, as you note. At its core, however, day of facts is not about trying to suppress conservative viewpoints or elevate liberal ones. Instead it is meant to remind people that facts matter, that there are facts behind news stories, and that doing the kind of critical inquiry that you mention to explore those facts, and how they’re contextualized, is an essential part of being an informed citizen.