Hillary Rodham Clinton spoke to more than 3,000 people on the final day of the 2017 ALA Annual Conference. “Democracy and libraries go hand in hand,” she told the crowd, which erupted in applause.
A Chicago area native, she said that when she received her first library card she felt like she was “handed a passport to the world” and stated that she was happy to be at a gathering where people love books and love to learn. “We need libraries because they are places for communities to come together,” Clinton said.
She stressed the importance of early literacy, sharing the statistic that by age 4, low income children hear 30 million fewer words than wealthier ones. She said in order “to raise brave, curious, and empathetic citizens,” readers must be raised. She also acknowledged the multiple hats librarians wear — often acting as counselors, social workers, and even lifesavers. She referred to the librarian in Philadelphia who has saved several people from overdosing. “I thank you for believing in the work you do. You are standing up for tens of millions who need your voice.” She further remarked that librarians are guardians of the First Amendment and of the freedom to read and speak, calling the idea of eliminating federal funding for libraries “short-sighted and deeply disturbing.”
In closing, Clinton discussed her current book project, which she said will be more personal than her previous work — it will address the experience of running for president as a woman and also how to rebound from a loss. She also noted that It Takes A Village will be released as a full color picture book.