National, regional and international networking between art libraries and art librarians benefits the users of particular art libraries by extending each library’s awareness of resources beyond the limits of its own collections. At the same time, electronic information systems are facilitating the communication and sharing of data through library networks. But every art library, while opening up access to other libraries and information sources, works to improve access to its own collections, and to encourage browsing which can be a crucial method of overcoming the limitations of library classification schemes and of penetrating the contents of books, journals, or other formats of packaged information. Commitment to opening up information resources to human enquiry necessarily involves librarians in opposition to censorship and to those factors, such as illiteracy, which can deprive people of access to information even in “free” societies; any absence of information or publications, if not the result of overt censorship then a consequence of bias or neglect, will be of concern to librarians who may also adopt a pro-active role of acquiring and promoting unfamiliar material. Open libraries can thus provide alternatives to established ways of thinking, and can help to facilitate access to the broadest spectrum of ideas.
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