Statement of the Executive Director of the National Library of Israel

Posted: 1/30/2015 3:14:00 AM
Author: Oren Weinberg

January 27, 2015

American Library Association Proposed Resolution
on Divestment from Caterpillar, Hewlett-Packard and Motorola Solutions

I am writing as Director of the National Library of Israel to express my strong opposition to co-opting the American Library Association platform for debating political action of any kind, and specifically of the nature proposed in the above resolution.

Libraries in general, and the National Library of Israel among them, represent and promote the core democratic value of access to knowledge, without regard to race, gender, religion, nationality, age, political beliefs, or any other attributes of difference or division. Libraries contribute to the forging of a better society - an informed and enlightened society - precisely by providing unconditional entry and access to the world's knowledge. Libraries help foster regional and global processes of communication and intellectual and artistic collaboration and exchange – and potentially, ideally, act as a bridge for greater understanding.

Societies, states, countries and continents are inevitably characterized by criteria of divisiveness and otherness. Libraries offer a haven free of stigma and the sometimes conflicted politics of affiliation. In this lies one of our greatest strengths, and one of the most valuable contributions we as library institutions make to world culture and memory. Deliberation on the proposed resolution taints this singular, and even hallowed, library mission by introducing politics to a forum that by its very nature guarantees protection from forced identification with any agenda, political or otherwise.

I represent an institution anchored in one of the most conflict-laden regions in the world, where we face an almost daily struggle to create and preserve a house of knowledge free from the tensions that characterize the environment in which we are situated. Please join me in opposing discussion of the proposed resolution, which by its mere introduction seeks to undermine the open and democratic values for which libraries, and the associations that represent them, must stand.

Oren Weinberg
The National Library of Israel