What Veterans Day Should Mean to a Library

General Interest

By: guest blogger Lindsay Dwyer

Smith, Dan. Knowledge wins. Public library books are free. 1918, lithograph poster, Boston Public Library.
Boston Public Library. 1918, Lithograph Poster by Dan Smith

As a veteran and a librarian, I got to thinking about what Veterans Day should mean to a library, and the truth is that it should mean a whole lot.

A library stands on the First Amendment to ensure intellectual freedom for all people. It acts as a stronghold against censorship and oppression. It is a place where we can safely and peacefully gather, learn, write and speak about all beliefs and ideas. Intellectual freedom is among the most fundamental of our personal liberties — as Thomas Jefferson once said, “I think by far the most important bill in our whole code is that for the diffusion of knowledge among the people. No other sure foundation can be devised for the preservation of freedom and happiness.”

Veterans Day is a day to honor American soldiers who have served to protect our country in times of war and peace. Their service came with sacrifice and often came with the threat of loss: lost time with their loved ones back home, lost limbs or even loss of life. This is a time to pause and reflect on their service and the freedom that it has granted us.

So, what should Veterans Day mean to a library? Veterans Day should mean that we take a moment to look around us to understand and appreciate that when we walk into a library, we are experiencing a physical representation of our First Amendment rights. The patron’s right to have unfettered access and ideas within a library and the librarian’s right to disseminate them are protected by the veterans who have sworn it their duty to fight for those rights and freedoms.


Lindsay DwyerLindsay Dwyer is a disabled veteran of the United States Air Force. She now works as an adjunct reference and instruction librarian for Boise State University.

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