A total of 2,453 community members and elected officials signed the American Library Association (ALA)’s Declaration for the Right to Libraries at Oak Park Public Library, during the month of February – all in support of the essential roles libraries play in our democratic society.

Idea Box hosts monthlong signing

The Main Library Idea Box, in contrast to frigid weather conditions that gripped much of the Midwest last month, featured a warm décor, with regal red walls adorned with large gold letters displaying Declaration tenets such as “Libraries are the great equalizer,” and “Libraries empower the individual.”

A red crystal chandelier, feather pens and a custom audio recording of local patrons and staff in multiple voices and different languages played in the dedicated 19’ x 13’ space that each month provides a new and dynamic participatory community experience. Hear audio of the Declaration.

Presidents' Day draws in supporters

Oak Park’s bulk of signatures came on Presidents' Day, Monday, Feb. 17. That’s when historical performers Max and Donna Daniels – as President Abraham Lincoln and his wife Mary Todd Lincoln – engaged Main Library patrons to join the national campaign. See photos of the President and Mrs. Lincoln's visit.

Also throughout the month, smaller signing stations collected support from both branch libraries. The library’s social media and digital communications promoted signing online

The Declaration’s tenets are:

  • Libraries empower the individual.
  • Libraries support literacy and lifelong learning.
  • Libraries strengthen families.
  • Libraries are the great equalizer.
  • Libraries build communities.
  • Libraries protect our right to know.
  • Libraries strengthen our nation.
  • Libraries advance research and scholarship.
  • Libraries help us to better understand each other.
  • Libraries preserve our nation’s cultural heritage.

All signatures, from Oak Park and from libraries around the nation, will be presented by the ALA to Congress during National Library Legislative Day activities in Washington, D.C., on May 5-6.