15 June 2010

Former FAIFE Chair Paul Sturges receives OBE Award

Paul SturgesIFLA would like to extend its warmest congratulations to Professor Paul Sturges for being awarded an OBE (Officer of the Order of the British Empire) in the Queen's Birthday Honours list. Professor Sturges was the Chair of IFLA's FAIFE Committee between 2003 and 2009, and has been involved in international librarianship for many years, contributing a tremendous amount through his work in the area of freedom of access to information and freedom of expression.

His work has concentrated on the value of access to information from the earliest development of human cognition through to the creation of fair and decent societies.

Particular highlights in his career include leading a project funded by Resource (now MLA) on Privacy in the Digital Library Environment from 2000 to 2002, and authoring Guidelines for Public Internet Access Facilities on behalf of the Council of Europe from 1997 to 2001. He is Professor Emeritus at the University of Loughborough in the UK, and Professor Extraordinary at the University of Pretoria, South-Africa. In addition to this, he has been deeply involved with projects on African library and information-related issues since 1984.

 In light of his achievements, what does Professor Sturges really think about intellectual freedom?

"As to my commitment to intellectual freedom, I can't identify a moment when I became convinced of its importance. To me it has always been like the air that I breathe - it is there and you don't ask questions about it. I guess I cared about libraries because they let your mind wander freely, with no obvious restrictions. Maybe when I began to travel and experience different environments I started to realise some of the ways that people's intellectual freedom was limited (like no libraries or understocked libraries) and to think that it would be a good idea to try to change things a little bit. Teaching ethics and law for students of librarianship, advising the Council of Europe on policy and then Chairing FAIFE were just expressions of that original feeling."

And what about the OBE award?

"The award means a lot to me because the citation says 'Services to libraries in Britain and overseas'. The mention of overseas service is a wonderful recognition that it's important to try to give something to the world outside your own country. I've tried to give something to librarianship throughout the world, mainly through IFLA. In a way the award is an endorsement of all the work that IFLA people put into the improvement of librarianship worldwide - an award to one of us has to be an award to all of us, because none of us can achieve much by ourselves."

IFLA is also extremely pleased to announce access to a large collection of Professor Sturges' papers and documents from before and during his period as FAIFE Chair. IFLA website users can now access formally published articles, papers and conference proceedings.

FAIFE (Committee on Freedom of Access to Information and Freedom of Expression), Freedom of information, Bibliography, Awards, Access to information

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