25 April 2016

Libraries’ Role in Connecting the Next 1.5 Billion Recognised

Governments, international organisations, civil society representatives, development banks and industry have underlined their support for public access to the internet in libraries as a means of getting more people online.

Four billion people still do not have regular access to the web. This creates a global digital divide that risks leaving half of the world’s population without access to information or economic and social opportunities. In response, the Global Connect Initiative aims to get a further 1.5 billion online by 2020. The Principles at its heart underline the role of libraries in doing this.

As IFLA has long noted, libraries can make a major contribution to connecting the rest of the world’s population. As trusted, publicly funded institutions that already exist in many developing countries, they are well placed to partner with civil society, the private sector and other public services. They also include skilled and qualified library staff who offer the public support on technology and training on information and media literacy.

Success in getting more people online will also help achieve the Sustainable Development Goals, as well as allowing people to exercise their human right of access to information.

To this end, we were at the heart of defining the Principles on Public Access in Libraries, which were discussed the Internet Governance Forum (IGF) in Joao Pessao in Brazil. We continue to work with the IGF’s Dynamic Coalition on Public Access in Libraries in order to make a reality of these principles, and will be making progress on this at a session at the World Library and Information Congress this August. We will also be present at the regional Internet Governance Fora taking place around the world over the coming months.

We’d encourage librarians and all who understand what libraries can do to get involved, in particular in your regional and national internet governance fora (view the list). Contact Stephen.wyber@ifla.org if you plan to go, and want to hear more. We hope to see you there!

LDP (Library Development Programme), Access to information, Access to knowledge, Democracy, Development, Digital divide, Digital resources, Disadvantaged people, Education, Education and training, Freedom of information, Freedom to read, Government information, Internet access

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