Development in the 21st century demands access to information – on how to get the best prices for a farmer’s crops, how to start a business, or how to provide medical care to patients. IFLA believes that libraries can further development by helping people in developing countries get the information they need to access economic opportunity, improve their health or support their communities. Libraries can help governments achieve their development goals by offering access to the Internet and online information resources to citizens.
At the beginning of 2013 only 35% of the world’s population is connected to the Internet. For many people the only way to get online is to use public access intermediaries, such as public libraries, to access the information resources and services that are needed to improve their lives and create, share and benefit from new knowledge. Globally there are more than 320,000 public libraries—and 73 percent of them are located in developing and transitioning countries. With the right policies and support, libraries can serve as cost-effective, sustainable centres for inclusive Internet access.
IFLA works in a number of ways to promote the role of libraries as agents for development. IFLA is a member of the Beyond Access campaign which focuses on getting recognition for public libraries as hubs for economic and social change worldwide. We participate in the World Summit on the Information Society and Internet Governance Forum to make the case for public access to the Internet through libraries. The IFLA Action for Development through Libraries programme (ALP) helps our members build their capacity to better advocate on behalf of libraries to their policymakers, and generate support for development programmes through libraries.
Understand more about what development means, and the relationship between libraries and development practitioners through the following IFLA Journal articles:
- Bringing the benefits of information technology to underserved populations: An introduction to ICTD for the library community by Chris Coward (Volum 36.3, pages 215 – 221)
- Symbiotic partnerships: The global library community and the ICTD stakeholders by Fay Austin (Volum 36.3, pages 221 – 227)
- Bridging between libraries and information and communication technologies for development by Rebecca Sears and Michael Crandall (Volum 36.1, pages 70-74)
Last update: 1 March 2013