SCARBOROUGH — In celebration of National Library Week, Scarborough Public Library trustees collected nearly 200 signatures on a “Declaration for the Right to Libraries,” to be displayed in Washington, D.C.
Trustees hosted a ceremony April 17 where board members, students and residents, including Councilor Kate St. Clair, signed and read from the declaration, which began as an initiative from the American Libraries Association to publicize the importance of libraries throughout the country as a community resource.
The document outlines 10 ideals that the ALA feels embody the importance of libraries, including that libraries empower individuals, support literacy and lifelong learning, and preserve our nation’s cultural heritage. In presenting the declaration, librarians and trustees hoped to shed light on the ways that Scarborough Public Library strives to meet the needs of residents.
“If you talk to people who use our libraries, you’d hear hundreds of different stories about why it’s important to them,” said Celeste Shinay, manager for programming and development at the library. “For people who don’t connect with libraries, perhaps they don’t realize all the services they provide. It’s not just about the books any more.”
Scarborough’s document will be submitted to Congress in May along with others from libraries across the country.
“It’s a really neat way for our local community to have a feeling of something much bigger,” library Vice President Emily Read said.
Trustees acknowledged trends of declining support for local libraries across the country, and expressed their gratitude for Scarborough’s relatively high level of local involvement.
“We’re so fortunate here in Maine and in Scarborough that we don’t have libraries at risk, as they have in many parts of the country,” director Nancy Crowell said, using California as an example. “As we look at the declaration, I want you to reflect not only on what’s happening here so successfully, but what’s going on across the country. Public libraries specifically are a real United States of America concept.”
“I think we’re really fortunate here in Scarborough that our library is so well embraced by our community,” Read added. “A lot of people come through the doors every day.”
Shawn Elliott was one of more than 150 people who signed Scarborough’s Declaration for the Right to Libraries on April 17. The document and others from around the country will be presented to Congress in May.
The Declaration for the Right to Libraries, an initiative of the American Libraries Association, was signed April 17 at Scarborough Public Library.