Library and information service has been and should always be the core of the LIS profession. The rich library resources and the extensive volume of information are only meaningful when they reach and are used by people, and this could only be achieved by services delivered by library and information professionals.
Free flow of information and equal access should always be represented in library and information services. Libraries are places to reinforce and encourage intellectual freedom, which according to the nation’s Bill of Right is the fundamental right that all persons in Canada have “to have access to all expressions of knowledge, creativity and intellectual activity, and to express their thoughts publicly.” Base on this notion, Canadian Library Association includes in its Position Statement on Intellectual Freedom that “It is the responsibility of libraries to guarantee and facilitate access to all expressions of knowledge and intellectual activity, including those which some elements of society may consider to be unconventional, unpopular or unacceptable.” “Free flow of information” also means no censorship, especially during the process of collection management in the public libraries. It is very essential for information professionals to do a selection based on the principle— we select one item over the other not because of a fear of the latter one’s “potential harm” to the public, but because the first one owns better quality or receives higher reviews than the latter one. As library and information professionals, we are not in the position of keep the readers from “unsuitable” information packages; we are responsible to bring patrons usable and well organized collections.
It is also the library and information professional’s responsibility to provide services to assist equal access for all library users. CLA’s Position Statement on Diversity and Inclusion states that “Libraries strive to deliver inclusive service. Canada’s libraries recognize and energetically affirm the dignity of those they serve, regardless of heritage, education, beliefs, race, religion, gender, age, sexual orientation, gender identity, physical or mental capabilities, or income.”
To provide high-quality and equal information services to library users, we information professionals should be well equipped with knowledge on users’ information retrieval habits and with practical skills to deliver various library services. In academic library settings, library services are not only about the reference service, but also information literacy instruction sessions on various topics and research areas. In the public library context, service is an extremely important aspect of the daily library operations. Reading advisory and programming are substantial parts of the library services, and the community outreach is gaining more and more emphasis as the increasing needs and requests from the community in recent years. In order to provide satisfactory library services, librarians need to obtain knowledge on extensive available resources, on practical skills on delivering effective reference services, on information literacy instruction and on various programs to different user groups, and the ability to communicate and connect with communities. Technology skills have also been gaining more and more importance for library professionals as the library service model has changed from the solo form of in-person to a combination of both face-to-face and virtual forms.
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