The American Library Association’s democracy statement reads, in part: “Democracies need libraries. An informed public constitutes the very foundation of a democracy; after all, democracies are about discourse—discourse among the people. ... It must ensure that citizens have the resources to develop the information literacy skills necessary to participate in the democratic process.” This might seem like some pretty big shoes to fill, but there is truth to it. Public libraries help us stay informed and keep us kind.
The Ontario Library Association (OLA) has a long tradition of publishing material that reflects the lived experiences of the library community in the province.
Open Shelf continues this practice. Our editorial team and contributors work with a set of author guidelines—basically a copyediting and style guide—but the conversation about race and privilege this summer highlighted the fact that we have no clearly enunciated editorial guidelines.
This gap is problematic, particularly when making decisions as to whether a given article should be published or not (i.e., censored).
So we have drafted a decision-making framework that will provide the current and future editorial teams with needed guidance. This document is informed by relevant legislation and international declarations, the OLA mission, vision and values and professional ethics as well as journalistic/publishing standards; it reflects the following core principles:
- Editorial integrity and independence
- Harm and offence
This draft will be being presented to the OLA Board this month (November) and shared with OLA members in December. Community input is welcomed, as these guidelines represent our shared values and beliefs about intellectual freedom, freedom of speech and the duty to avoid harm and offence. They will be our compass for decision-making moving forward.
Martha Attridge Bufton (MA, MLIS, Graduate Certificate in TBDL) is the Open Shelf editor-in-chief and a member of Editors Canada.