17 June 2014

WSIS+10 outcome documents recognise role of libraries

The role of libraries in providing access to information, the importance of cultural heritage, public access to Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) and the need for media and information literacy skills were among the recommendations included in a series of documents released by WSIS+10 in June 2014. 

The outcome documents followed months of negotiations through the WSIS Multistakeholder Preparatory Platform (MPP), culminating in the WSIS+10 High Level Event (HLE) in Geneva June 9-13 2014 in which IFLA advocated for the inclusion of library issues.

IFLA workshop at WSIS+10 HLE

Photo by ITU/C. Montesano Casillas

IFLA will provide advice to libraries on implementing the recommendations from the two outcome documents in July 2014. 

WSIS+10 outcome documents endorsed

Member States endorsed two high-level outcome documents: 

Highlights of these documents for libraries include:

WSIS+10 Statement on the Implementation of the WSIS Outcomes 
The UN system organisations, UN Member States and all stakeholders are invited to recognise:

  • That greater efforts are still required to improve affordable access to ICTs, information and knowledge for all people, in particular in the developing countries and Least Developed Countries. (LCDs) There is also a need to ensure equity of access, including public access, in terms of human capacities and access to current and new ICTs, between urban and rural communities within countries and between countries around the world.  
  • The need to promote access for all to public information and knowledge, including open access to scientific information, particularly in developing and least developed countries and among marginalised communities in all countries. 
  • The need for people to have media and information literacy skills that are indispensable in order to fully participate in an inclusive Information Society. 

WSIS+10 Vision for WSIS Beyond 2015
The UN system organisations, UN Member States and all stakeholders are asked to envision a world where: 

  • Digital inclusion remains a cross-cutting priority, going beyond affordability and access to ICT networks, services and applications, including in rural and remote areas. The digital, technology and knowledge divides will be bridged to reap the benefits of ICT and broadband in transforming the lives of communities. 
  • There is full respect for cultural and linguistic diversity, and for everyone’s right to express themselves and to create and disseminate their work and local content in the language of their choice.  The preservation of digital heritage in the information society is ensured. 

Towards WSIS Review 2015

The outcome documents will contribute to an overall WSIS Review in 2015. As Member States move towards the review of the whole WSIS process, priority topics were outlined in the Geneva Plan of Action Beyond 2015, including:

  • Supporting providers of public access in the local communities such as libraries to help people access information resources they need and develop information literacy skills to improve their lives. 
  • Encouraging governments and intergovernmental organizations as well as private institutions and organisations to pursue policies and programs that advocate for and promote media and information literacy (MIL) and lifelong learning for all, so as to help users develop their abilities to evaluate and interact with online information resources. 
  • Ensuring the preservation of digital heritage in the information society by putting into place cohesive, conceptual and practical digital strategies, supported, to the extent practicable, at international level, for the preservation of and access to recorded information in the digital environment in all its forms while respecting individual privacy. 

Briefing on Public Access to ICTs and Libraries

To capitalise on the positive reaction to libraries at WSIS+10, IFLA, the Association of Progressive Communications (APC) and the Technology and Social Change Group (TASCHA) at the University of Washington issued a joint brief on public access to ICTs focusing on “Supporting digital inclusion for all – Maximising the impact of information and communication technologies (ICTs) for inclusive social and economic development” 

Background

The World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) process consisted of two summits followed by the implementation of specific action lines that include issues important to libraries such as access to information and ICTs, media and information literacy, and digital preservation of cultural heritage. IFLA has represented the library community at these meetings since the initial high-level summits in 2003 and 2005.

Access to information, Access to knowledge, Advocacy, WSIS+10, HLE

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