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The Swedish Library Association is celebrating its centenary

Celebrating our centenary

100-AR-MAGENTAIn 1915 a society was founded that is now better known as the Swedish Library Association. For the last one hundred years, people all over Sweden who have knowledge of, commitment to and a passion for libraries have come together to create our association. Our members, through their voluntary engagement, have built up the Swedish library system we have today through practical work, the sharing of their knowledge and by constantly explaining the value of libraries to society. The Swedish Library Association is still a society-changing force that plays a clear role in library development because our mission is timeless. The focus of our work is always based on the belief that a library is a cornerstone of democratic development.

The Swedish Library Association stands for everyone’s right to free access to knowledge, culture and information. We believe in development through knowledge. We know that language is power. And we know what obstacles can stand in the way of democracy. Our vision is a society and a world where everyone can use their democratic right to develop, think, speak and write freely. And we believe in the library as one of society’s best responses to future democratic challenges.

During Sweden’s industrialization, the Swedish Library Association developed standards for universal access to knowledge and education in parallel with broad social movements. After World War II, the UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights confirmed the right of everyone to freedom of opinion and expression, and the “freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers”. The library system in Sweden was built to fulfil that goal. Records from those years show the development not only of more and better libraries, but also a powerful expansion of adult education and training in the community, which laid the foundation for the relatively equal access to knowledge and information we have in Sweden today.

Swedish Library Association members have contributed greatly to the democracy-building process in this country. Public libraries, school libraries, academic libraries and specialist authority and organization libraries – today, libraries represent a nationwide infrastructure of knowledge, science, culture and information that is open and available to all. With the realization that democracy is still developing in the era of globalization, we also cooperate with library associations and libraries around the world to enhance freedom in other countries. We are part of a growing international library movement with solid cooperation in the Nordic region, Europe and the rest of the world.

Over the years we have celebrated many successes, some very recent. In 2011 the entitlement of schoolchildren to school libraries was written into the Education Act; in 1997, Sweden passed a Library’s Act and 2014 it was strengthened. Now we continue to push for a strong national library strategy and increased resources for libraries. Only then can these laws remain effective. We are meeting the challenges of digitization and helping everyone in society take advantage of the huge information resource that libraries represent!

It is with pride, joy and eagerness that the Swedish Library Association now invites you to join in our jubilee year, 2015. We are a member-supported organization that collects Sweden’s most skilled and dedicated experts from all types of libraries. We will continue to defend your right to have independent, strong and accessible libraries. We will continue to influence policy and contribute to knowledge and debate. We have 100 years of library work in the service of democracy behind us, and we have even more work to do in the future.

In Gothenburg the Swedish Libray Association will sponsor the evening reception on the 5th of September

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