The Library didn't only contain magical books, the ones which are chained to their shelves and are very dangerous. It also contained perfectly ordinary books, printed on commonplace paper in mundane ink. It would be a mistake to think that they weren't also dangerous, just because reading them didn't make fireworks go off in the sky. Reading them sometimes did the more dangerous trick of making fireworks go off in the privacy of the reader's brain. This quote demonstrates the safety to explore a wide range of ideas in libraries.
Thinking about this post and the idea of libraries as safe places has also made me think back to my post about silence as some of those who are silent/silenced in the library may also not feel that that library is safe, or that it saves their stories for the community.
There has been a lot of discussion about libraries being neutral places (for example this and this). I am not convinced that libraries have ever really been neutral, as often it is those who have not been excluded who are writing about the neutrality of libraries.The discussion of neutrality is not always accompanied by discussion of libraries as safe places. Sometimes it is not possible for the library to be both safe and neutral, and safe should not be sacrificed. Safe was sacrificed for decades in libraries in the south in the USA (Not Free, Not for All: Public Libraries in the Age of Jim Crow - is an amazing and disturbing book to read) although they also may not have said they were neutral. This is true in other places around the world where there have been (or maybe still are) restrictions on who can use the space, or the library intimidates (by the building, by the staff...). Libraries should be safe places to go to.
They should be safe places to explore ideas, without risk of harm. Libraries should also make sure their client data is safe, and that as much other data as possible is open for people to use. Digitising and collecting digital content can be ways to make information available (but often isn't as people choose copyright over open creative commons licenses). If your organisation owns the copyright on something, they can choose to make it widely available while it is still in copyright.
Maker spaces are a great way for people to explore ideas and to experiment (and yet they need to safe so that people are not injured). Libraries should be safe for staff (think work health safety, not bullied, support from managers) and all who use them (in the library and online).
The tweet, below, shows libraries as a safe place to explore literacy.
Read more about Dr Carla Hayden, and the importance of libraries as safe places (repositories). There continues to be much destruction of libraries, both by war and by neglect (including inadequate funding).The @freelibrary’s @freelibrarycook is an innovative and hands-on way to advance literacy through cooking. It was fun to join these cooks! pic.twitter.com/rz0bDcVHAj— Carla Hayden (@LibnOfCongress) September 20, 2017
Neil Gaiman says "Libraries really are the gates to the future" (go and read the whole article here) Libraries should be a safe place to explore a wide range of ideas, and this includes through collections, services and programs, and this can lead to a very wide range of outcomes. There is much more to ponder on this idea, but I am almost out of September to write it in.