Comment to To Be or Not To Be…Opinionated By Leah L. White, Library Journal, Sept. 1, 2011
Interesting article, but there are several topics here. The first question about Sarah Palin, was very possibly a trap. I wrote in an email list/blog post of mine that “I think it is really important *not* to believe that all librarians represent a single political ideal since they neither represent a single political entity, nor should they. The moment they do speak out politically, they can become isolated by someone, somewhere, and at the same time they alienate a large number of the members of their own profession.” http://catalogingmatters.blogspot.com/2011/08/re-day-made-of-glass.html
Still, it is not hypocritical for librarians to say they are important to society. It is merely stating a fact, but the general public may not be aware of this fact. Naturally, librarians should be required, and able, to back up their statements if questioned–and that is the entire point. When confronted, they can begin to explain why, hopefully in language the average person can understand and appreciate, and these are the times when people may listen and librarians may have an impact. But, when arguing for the importance of libraries, librarians are also ethically compelled to provide the “non-librarian” view as well, in an unbiased manner. This makes us quite different from many other members of society.
Being unbiased does not necessarily mean the same thing as keeping silent when you see someone doing something that will harm them and you. This certainly applies to information. There is still a moral responsibility to speak up.