This paper provides some of the historical context of the efforts of the American Library Association (ALA) to define, extend, protect and advocate for equity of access, focusing on central tendencies rather than internal debate. The first section, "Toward the Concept of Access," discusses: how ALA became a public service organization; extension and adult education; a federal role for libraries; the role of the library in the post-war world; and the federal aid era. The second section, "Downstream Access," addresses: literacy and lifelong learning; African Americans; ALA, outreach, and equity; people with disabilities; and services to poor and homeless people. The third section, "Protecting and Extending Access," covers: intellectual freedom and "Libraries: An American Value"; a conceptual foundation for a national information policy; "Freedom and Equality of Access to Information"; Special Committee on Freedom and Equality of Access to Information; "Your Right To Know: Librarians Make It Happen"; ALA Goal 2000--Intellectual Participation; ALAction 2005 and "Equity of Access"; and Congresses on Professional Education and Core Values Task Forces. The fourth section, "Upstream Access," discusses: "An Information Agenda for the 1980s"; the active participation of the library community in the formulation and implementation of national information policies; establishment of the Office for Information Technology Policy; "Envisioning a Nation Connected: Librarians Define the Public Interest in the Information Superhighway"; the digital divide; and CIPA (Children's Internet Protection Act). The fifth section, "Rocks in the Whirlpool," covers: principles for a networked world; unifying visions for equity of access; and making new technologies work for human development. Each section contains references. (MES)
Submitted to the Executive Board of the American Library Association at its annual conference, June 14, 2002.