The Theme Report 2004 Media release

The IFLA/FAIFE Theme Report 2004 was launched at a press conference on 24th August in Buenos Aires. The report is the fourth volume of the IFLA/FAIFE World Report Series.

Professor Paul Sturges, Chair of the IFLA/FAIFE Committee, said: "In this Theme Report our authors explore the relationship between unrestricted access to information and lifelong literacy in a wide variety of ways. Their approaches, however, have an underlying link in common. Each approach seeks to tell us something important about the way information nourishes the skills that a human being requires to function as an autonomous actor in the world. The struggles of popular movements for a more democratic society have the character of struggles for wider access to information as much as they have been armed conflicts. Social and political change has seldom flourished where those in power have succeeded in using their control of information to confuse, mislead and divide the people. By obtaining access to information, people place themselves in a position to take control of their own lives and to play a positive role in the development of society. This is why freedom of access to information is such an important ideal for society and why it has come to be identified as a human right".

The Theme Report 2004 presents visions on how libraries can promote literacy and lifelong learning. The literacy process has to be recognised as inclusive of all ranges of communication, and it occurs at all levels and ages of societies, whether they are predominantly oral societies or have a culture of reading as a basis for accessing information. Such an approach will create a fundamental shift and redress the denial of a right of access to information, by most librarians, for millions of people who rely on orality as their equivalent of the lifelong literacy process.

The report debates the implementation of ICTs and the concerns and challenges of developing countries. Some of the barriers identified: ICT infrastructure, training, local content and cost once again highlights the digital divide that exists on a global scale, and reminds us that divides between urban and rural populations, as well as rich and poor, exist within individual countries. Also authors confirm that without appropriate content that can be used at a local level ICTs will not be able to properly contribute to the lifelong learning process.

What is seen in the Theme Report 2004 is that libraries in developing countries have to come up with novel ways to deal with problems that bigger, richer countries are able to tackle differently. The principles at stake are similar, but local conditions create different sets of problems and solutions in each country. What the contributions to this report have done is to show how different processes - funding partnerships, community involvement, staff and user training - can be mooted or implemented to enable libraries to make a greater contribution to the lifelong learning process. The situations and solutions outlined here may inspire librarians in other countries in their quest to empower their users.


About FAIFE - an IFLA Core Activity

FAIFE is an initiative within IFLA to defend and promote the basic human rights defined in Article 19 of the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

The FAIFE Committee and Office further freedom of access to information and freedom of expression in all aspects, directly or indirectly, related library and information services.

FAIFE monitors the state of intellectual freedom within the library and information community worldwide, supports IFLA policy development and cooperation with other international human rights organisations, and responds to violations of freedom of access to information and freedom of expression.

IFLA/FAIFE World Report Series

The IFLA/FAIFE World Report Series offers timely and detailed summaries of the state of intellectual freedom and libraries worldwide. The series comprises of two publications, the IFLA/FAIFE World Report - published bi-annually - and the IFLA/FAIFE Theme Report - published in alternate years. Each year's publication is launched at IFLA's annual World Library and Information Congress.

The first IFLA/FAIFE World Report on Libraries and Intellectual Freedom, 2001 reflects on the achievements of the first four years of IFLA/FAIFE activities, and concludes on the state of intellectual freedom relating to libraries in 46 of the world's nations. The second volume in the series, The IFLA/FAIFE Summary Report: Libraries, Conflicts and the Internet, 2002 provides an overview of global Internet access barriers; debates the Internet as the information tool of the 21st century; libraries and conflicts; 'Beacon for Freedom of Expression' - the Alexandria database; and finally discusses how the library community can respond when intellectual freedoms are at stake.

The IFLA/FAIFE World Report 2003: Intellectual freedom in the Information Society, libraries and the Internet debates the challenges of ICTs by focusing on libraries and the Internet. Based on completed questionnaires from 88 countries representing all regions of the world, the report discusses the digital divide, filtering and blocking of information, user privacy, financial barriers, intellectual freedom, and codes of ethics. It analyses the differences region by region and discusses the challenge of the information society with regards to the information haves and the information have-nots.

Based on reliable information sources and detailed analysis, future IFLA/FAIFE World Reports will follow up on and discuss topics of interest and issues of debate. We hope the IFLA/FAIFE World Report Series thus will become a key guide to the issues confronting libraries in providing free and unhampered access to information for their clients.

FAIFE (Committee on Freedom of Access to Information and Freedom of Expression), Access to knowledge, Access to information, Freedom of expression, Freedom of information

Last update: 5 October 2012