Freedom of Information Day

March 16, 2021 – Alli Boyer, Adult Services

In the world of random holidays, March 16th is National Freedom of Information Day! Naturally, as a librarian, freedom of information is important to me—it’s quite literally my job.  Libraries provide access to information, tools for analyzing information, and programs and displays to share information.  The American Library Association states that we celebrate Freedom of Information Day around March 16th because it is also James Madison’s birthday, “who is widely regarded as the Father of the Constitution and the foremost advocate for openness in government.”  ALA also presents two awards each year to honor “individuals or groups that have championed, protected, and promoted public access to government information and the public’s right to know.”  These awards include:

• The James Madison Award, which celebrates a group or individual who has brought awareness to issues regarding access to information at a national level.
• The Eileen Cooke State & Local Madison Award, which “honors an extraordinary leader who has built local grassroots awareness of the importance of access to information.”

Here are a few titles we have by or about previous award winners:

Grounded: A Senator’s Lessons on Winning Back Rural America by Jon Tester
The Internet’s Own Boy (DVD)

With great information comes great responsibility.  It is not enough just to find information and thoughtlessly share it with others.  Just because information exists doesn’t make it accurate or true.  You may have the freedom to find any piece of information you’re looking for, but you should use that information responsibly.  Before working here, I was a librarian at an elementary school.  We had several lessons and discussions on finding credible sources, tricks to analyze information, and the role we, as users, have in sharing or reproducing facts. There are a few key things you should check for when determining if a source is credible or not: 

1. Accuracy (verify with other sources – don’t use just one)
2. Authority (who is writing/publishing this information – what are their credentials)
3. Currency (how old is this information – is it out of date?)
4. Coverage (is this relevant to your topic?)

If you’re looking to do some research, we have a few Digital Resources you might find helpful, including subscriptions to EBSCOHost and Explora, which provide peer-reviewed articles.  Or, here are some more titles that might strike your fancy about Freedom of Information:

The Net Delusion: The Dark Side of Internet Freedom by Evgeny Morozov
The Three Lives of James Madison: Genius, Partisan, President by Noah Feldman
Liberty’s Blueprint: How Madison and Hamilton Wrote the Federalist Papers, Defined the Constitution, and Made Democracy Safe for the World by Michael Meyerson
This Book is Overdue! How Librarians and Cybrarians Can Save Us All by Marilyn Johnson
The Meaning of the Library: A Cultural History by Alice Crawford

Cape Girardeau Public Library

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