The foundation of modern librarianship rests on an essential set of core values that define, inform, and guide our professional practice. These values reflect the history and ongoing development of the profession and have been advanced, expanded, and refined by numerous policy statements of the American Library Association. Among these are: access, confidentiality/privacy, democracy, diversity, education and lifelong learning, intellectual freedom, preservation, the public good, professionalism, service, social responsibility, and sustainability.
While it is not a new phenomenon, over the last two years, we have seen a troubling increase in headlines about hate speech or conduct. Photos of young high school-aged men laughing as they give the Nazi salute. Taunts and threats to “build the wall” or “go back to Mexico” to Hispanics and other ethnicities and races. A Nazi swastika drawn on a bathroom wall or an outdoor wall at a synagogue, or a Confederate flag displayed on a classroom wall. Then there have been the infamous episodes of barbequing while black, selling water while black, and even sleeping while black. The headlines have been full of these incidents. While it’s always been a part of our culture, the rise of hate speech and conduct has become even more prevalent today so much so that it is alarming.
Since the first social work class was offered in the summer of 1898 at Columbia University, social workers have led the way developing private and charitable organizations to serve people in need. Social workers continue to address the needs of society and bring our nation’s social problems to the public’s attention.
The history of social welfare is an interdisciplinary study of the evolution of organized activities related to social reform and social service. Research materials related to this history include the papers, records and publications of individuals, local volunteer groups, national private organizations, and the state and federal government agencies that have provided and regulated social services. Charity groups and social welfare organizations often work on behalf of people whose voices have not been heard widely in American history. Therefore, the archives of social welfare history serve as a resource for learning more about women, children, minorities, immigrant and refugees, the elderly, the poor and persons with disabilities.
NASW Press has published a special issue of the journal Social Work titled “Civil Rights and Social Justice: A Social Work Imperative”. The contents of the journal reflect the theme of the necessity of a social justice emphasis in the practice of social work. In their editorial for the issue, Tricia B. Bent-Goodley and June Gary Hopps discuss the timeliness and importance of a social justice imperative for social workers.