The following is an excerpt from an interview with Nancy Kranich, former president of the American LibraryAssociation (ALA), the main professional organization for librarians in the United States.An informed public constitutes the very foundation of a democracy; after all, democracies are about discourse—discourse among the people. If a free society is to survive, it must ensure the preservation of its records and providefree and open access to this information to all its citizens. It must ensure that citizens have the skills necessary toparticipate in the democratic process. It must allow unfettered dialogue and guarantee freedom of expression. All ofthis is done in our libraries, the cornerstone of democracy in our communities.