“A Librarian Can Promote Human Rights”

This interview is an excerpt from the Raoul Wallenberg Institute’s recently published “Developing a Human Rights Library” resource.

"Developing a Human Rights Library", a Raoul Wallenberg Institute publication, features a number of librarians working with human rightsAmani Hamarsheh has worked as a librarian at the University of Jordan Library in Amman for ten years. She has also participated in the Raoul Wallenberg Institute’s library training. Here are her thoughts on the role that librarians play in human rights.

“First, it’s that the librarian gives the user the right of access, the right of getting the information they need, whether helping people with special needs or just letting people participate. Giving information to all users is a right tied in a way to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. We have to give people the right to information and access.

“The second important aspect is to be able to understand which resources your users need and then to get it to them. For example, we’ve linked the Faculty of Law library with the International Studies library so all visitors have access to both. We have to help users get
access to the information, via the Internet, via subscriptions, by developing good guides, etc.

“We’re now trying to enrich the database of our catalogues in the human rights field and we’ve increase the number of books we have on human rights.

“Before the human rights library training my thoughts about human rights were on a general level. I didn’t think as a librarian that I could promote human rights – I didn’t think I could help. After the training, I became aware that I could, that I can change things and I now know more about the principle of human rights. I also know that applying human rights is not easy. There is a gap between theory and practice. We can’t ignore it – especially in the Arab World. We see the importance of this field is increasing day by day.”

TIPS ON WORKING WITH HUMAN RIGHTS IN LIBRARIES

“I think that people who will be working with a library that provides human rights materials

  • must learn human rights principles and issues and keep learning them.
  • must have the ability to collect resources (print and digital) that deal with human rights issues.
  • should conduct workshops dealing with human rights issues for other librarians and people who are involved from the whole society in order to discuss the updated issues in the field.
  • should provide exhibitions and other public events to promote human rights issues.
  • should invite users to see films, video recordings, documentary programs etc., that are talking about human rights.
  • should constantly search for news, new publications, new journals, groups etc., on the internet and in social media that cover human rights issues. Then they should help in the arrangement of these resources and make them available to users immediately.
  • should build networks and forums using social media to help in the promotion of human rights.”
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