Congratulations to Alex Byrne, the new State Librarian of NSW, formerly of UTS.
Dr Byrne has been a voice for librarians in matters of intellectual freedom and opposing censorship for many years, and served as IFLA President, his appointment is most welcome.
In libraries, the defence of intellectual freedom is expressed through the unabashed provision of all the resources needed by our clients. But it needs to go further, as active support for freedom of expression. Our libraries should resound with many contending views, including the unacceptable, and indeed that which we might find hateful. In developing our collections, physical and virtual, we must keep this principle to the fore, actively making available controversial and contentious materials. In making such materials available, even those that we may find repugnant or just nonsensical, we are not endorsing their arguments, but upholding the essential principle of intellectual freedom. In the words of the IFLA Statement on Libraries and Intellectual Freedom, we are endeavouring to “make available the widest variety of materials, reflecting the plurality and diversity of society” and to “ensure that the selection and availability of library materials and services is governed by professional considerations and not by political, moral and religious views”. Dr Alex Byrne Libraries and Democracy
We can also be thankful that the position has gone to a librarian.