Libraries Are a Mirror to Societal Success Says Harvard Law Professor

June 25, 2010

"There are far too many libraries today that are not open seven days a week, weekends, or at  night," Harvard Law School Jesse Climenko Professor Charles Ogletree said in an exclusive American Libraries interview during Annual Conference in Washington, D.C. "We have 24-hour jail service and, in some instances, only limited library service. We’ve got our priorities wrong and if we want to save our children from themselves or sometimes from a hostile environment, we have to give them free public access to imformation to learn, to critically argue issues. The library is a mirror to our success in society."

Ogletree, founder of Harvard Law's Charles Hamilton Institute for Race and Justice, serves as one of several celebrity honorary co-chairs of ALA's Spectrum Presidential Initiative – an effort to raise $1 million in scholarships for students pursuing master's in library science degrees.

He addressed Library Champions at a reception held in their honor talking about his just-released book The Presumption of Guilt-The Arrest of Henry Louis Gates and Race, Class  and Crime in America (Plagrave Macmillan, 2010).

"Libraries have been the savior of my life from the time I was a little kid reading books in my local county library,"  he said.

Ogletree taught both President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama while they were students at Harvard and remained close to the President thoughout his political career. Asked what he would say to the couple about the importance of library funding: "You know what’s most important in your children’s lives and that’s education, and how do they get that education– through reading. If there is a mandate coming from the White House from the President, First Lady, or both, it is that in order to lead you must read. Give to others what you have had and give them the same chance."