The World Report 2003 Media release
The IFLA/FAIFE World Report 2003. Intellectual Freedom in the Information Society, Libraries and the Internet was launched at a press conference. The World Report 2003 has responses from 88 different countries – equivalent to 58% of IFLA member countries – almost double the number of countries represented in the World Report 2001.
Alex Byrne, Chair of the IFLA/FAIFE Committee, said: "The World Report 2003 makes very interesting reading. The countries included are very different and display a diversity of approaches to library and information service and access to the Internet. But the peoples of all the countries share a thirst for knowledge and it is our responsibility to assist them by providing and promoting unrestricted access to information."
The World Report 2003 focuses on libraries and the Internet. It discusses the digital divide, filtering and blocking of information, user privacy, financial barriers, intellectual freedom, and codes of ethics. It also considers the adoption and implementation of the IFLA Internet Manifesto and the Glasgow Declaration on Libraries, Information Services and Intellectual Freedom, which express vital principles for a free Internet supported by strong library and information services.
The results of the IFLA/FAIFE survey discussed in the World Report 2003 have once again disclosed the huge gaps and differences between the regions of the world – between the information have and the information haves not. There is a long way to go before countries, their libraries and their staff are suitably equipped and properly trained to meet the challenge of safeguarding their clients’ full participation in the information and knowledge society. With regards to Internet access, the most significant problems as defined by the contributing countries are a lack of computers with Internet access, financial barriers, and training of users and staff. And with regards to freedom of access to information and freedom of expression, censorship and the blocking of information are still issues of great concern that need to be addressed.
By its continuing engagement in the WSIS process, the international library community can raise awareness of these challenges. The IFLA/FAIFE World Report
Series gives the international library community a mechanism to monitor our progress as we continue to move together towards a more equitable information society for all.
The World Report 2003 is a major contribution in clarifying what obstacles we have yet to tackle and identifying the issues that need to be resolved if we are to accomplish our goals.