If I were to create a research project on a particular artifact or text — I’d choose the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (adopted by the United Nations General Assembly in 1948) I would be interested in researching how much of an impact this text has had on public libraries, such as how much it has informed policies and procedures over the past 65 years .
Interestingly enough “The Library Bill of Rights” was adopted by the American Library Association in 1939 (eleven years prior to the Declaration of Human Rights). It was revised in 1948 — the same year the Declaration of Human Rights was adopted by the UN. It was then later amended in 1961, 1967, and again in 1980. Forty-six after the Declaration of Human Rights document IFLA/UNESCO adopted the “Public Library Manifesto” in 1994. While there has been much debate around the role of social justice in librarianship, over the past decade there has been a gradual shift to consider this as one of the core responsibilities of librarians in order for libraries to remain relevant in today’s global and diverse communities.
There’s a very fascinating article written by Kathleen de la Peña McCook and Katharine J. Phenix entitled “The Future of Public Libraries in the Twenty-first Century: Human Rights and Human Capabilities” which explores the role and value of social justice work in 21st century librarianship, as well as a brief article on the ALA website entitled “Librarians and Human Rights” that provides an overview of librarians’ commitment to universal human rights.