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From the Vice Provost for Digital Initiatives and Dean of University Libraries
The University of Washington Libraries works hard to make sure all members of our community feel welcome and safe in the Libraries by providing collections that reflect diversity of thought, experience, and perspective. Likewise we provide inclusive services and accessible facilities.
In the aftermath of one of the most divisive and highly contentious presidential elections, UW President Ana Mari Cauce issued a statement on our shared ideals and mission of education, discovery, healing, and public service. Theses ideals include unwavering support for creating and nurturing an inclusive, diverse and welcoming community.
We are a place where freedom of speech and open exchange of ideas are celebrated. At the same time, we do not and will not let hate speech or other actions that threatens the well-being of any member of our community go unchecked or unchallenged.
Now more than ever, Libraries staff must ensure open and equal access to authoritative information resources and provide users with the support needed to evaluate the veracity of sources.
A recent study (pdf) conducted by researchers at Stanford University indicated that young news consumers have trouble distinguishing credible sources from unreliable ones. The “fake news” phenomena on social media underscores the importance of developing the information literacy of our students.
Each of us at the UW Libraries has a role to play – through our services, instructional programs, collections, and spaces – in ensuring that all community members feel welcome and safe, and have the ability to critically assess the information they discover.
On November 15, President Obama delivered a speech in Athens, Greece, the birthplace of democracy. The following excerpt is particularly relevant to the role libraries can play.
In all of our communities, I still believe there’s more of what Greeks call philotimo—love, and respect, and kindness for family and community and country, and a sense that we’re all in this together, with obligations to each other. Philotimo – I see it every day and that gives me hope.
Because in the end, it is up to us. It's not somebody else's job, it's not somebody else's responsibility, but it's the citizens of our countries and the citizens of the world to bend that arc of history towards justice. And that’s what democracy allows us to do.
Libraries are the cornerstone of that democracy – a democracy that must be inclusive with a well-informed citizenry. In this season of giving thanks, I give thanks for working with colleagues and supporters who are committed to making the UW and the world a better place.
Lizabeth (Betsy) Wilson