IFLA & EIFL: Formation of New Dynamic Coalition on Public Access in Libraries at the Internet Governance Forum

Posted on March 13, 2012 by


From an IFLA Announcement:

IFLA is pleased to report that a new Dynamic Coalition on Public Access in Libraries has been approved by the Secretariat of the Internet Governance Forum (IGF). IGF Dynamic Coalitions are informal, issue-specific groups consisting of stakeholders that are interested in particular issues. They gather academics, representatives of governments, and members of civil society interested in collaborating, participating in debates, and engaging in the coalition’s work.

The International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions (IFLA) and Electronic Information for Libraries (EIFL) are the organisers of this coalition and we are now seeking more members who are interested in the topic and wish to be kept informed of the DC’s activities, discussions and progress.

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Within the context of the IGF, no arena currently exists for the discussion of Internet governance issues relating to public access intermediaries such as public libraries. Public access to the Internet is tackled in a cross-programme sense, but the sheer reach of libraries – there are over one billion registered library users on the planet – demands that special attention be paid to the challenges and opportunities faced and offered by these crucial institutions. Everyday libraries face challenges offered by serving disparate user groups – children and young people, the unemployed, the elderly, the disabled and many other mainstream and marginalised groups. They may be the only places in communities that allow access to social media or Internet telephony, or provide gateways to e-government services. Public library staff must be aware of and able to serve the needs of users, while at the same time remaining aware of privacy and human rights issues.

The formation of a new Dynamic Coalition on Public Access in Libraries creates a space within the IGF to address the Internet governance issues relating to public access, and will enable a discussion to take place about how the existing expertise, networks and infrastructure offered by public libraries can contribute to the goals and spirit of the WSIS process. This discussion would be truly multi-stakeholder – public libraries are funded by the taxpayer and embedded in government infrastructure, they are frequented by members of civil society and the entrepreneurs behind SMEs, and they frequently partner with the private sector to provide buildings and services. A Dynamic Coalition on Public Access in Libraries would benefit from the participation of representatives from all these groups.

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Objectives of the Coalition

  • To place public access to the Internet through public libraries on the agenda of the IGF as a cross-cutting issue on a number of IGF key themes e.g. Internet Governance and Development; Access and Diversity; Security, Openness and Privacy; Youth.
  • To ensure that representatives of libraries and their users are consulted on issues of Internet Governance within, and outside of, the context of the IGF.
  • To create a dialogue between library representatives and policy makers on the potential of public libraries in major policy areas such as social cohesion, education, employment, community development, health and agriculture,  in pursuit of sustainable funding and favourable policies towards libraries.

Learn More in the Complete Announcement and via this Internet Governance Forum (IGF) Video (via YouTube)

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