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A Message from the ARL President: Centering Our Values in Defense of Democracy and Social Justice

black-and-white photo of US Capitol at night
US Capitol, image CC0 by Cameron Smith

Like many of you, I was horrified to see the storming of the US Capitol during one of the most pivotal times in the democratic process.  The nation and truly the world remain stunned that this would even be possible.  Some members of the ARL community were directly impacted by the violence and chaos.  We all must give greater attention to the inequitable nature of our democracy as we enter a period leading up to the transition of power.

During the summer of 2020, the nation watched in horror as peaceful protesters against police brutality were met with attacks and mass arrests. In response, ARL further prioritized anti-racism and the advancement of “inclusive development, expression, sharing, and preservation of knowledge” within our guiding principles. The violence, racism, and blatant double standards that took place this week at the Capitol were direct threats to democracy and serve as another wake-up call concerning why our mission and guiding principles matter so much.

Democracy depends on an informed, diverse, and anti-racist society. As our vision statement upholds, ARL will “enable and catalyze research libraries to leverage and mobilize individual assets toward the collective advancement of learning, research, and societal impact, including advocacy and action to foster values of anti-racism, equity, and inclusion in their respective communities and beyond.”

John P. Culshaw,
President, Association of Research Libraries


About the Association of Research Libraries

The Association of Research Libraries (ARL) is a nonprofit organization of 125 research libraries in Canada and the US whose mission is to advance research, learning, and scholarly communication. The Association fosters the open exchange of ideas and expertise; advances diversity, equity, and inclusion; and pursues advocacy and public policy efforts that reflect the values of the library, scholarly, and higher education communities. ARL forges partnerships and catalyzes the collective efforts of research libraries to enable knowledge creation and to achieve enduring and barrier-free access to information. ARL is on the web at ARL.org.