IFLA/FAIFE are pleased to announce the launch of the IFLA/FAIFE World Report 2005 on Intellectual Freedom and Libraries titled ‘Libraries, National Security, Freedom of Information Laws and Social Responsibilities’. The Report was launched at the World Library and Information Congress press conferences on Tuesday 16th of August 2005 in Oslo.

The IFLA/FAIFE World Report series is unique. It is the only source based on a systematic data collection process that provides an overview of how libraries around the world are tackling barriers to freedom of access to information and freedom of expression. This year’s edition includes 84 country reports submitted by IFLA members. The main findings of the 2005 World Report are that the state of intellectual freedom in many parts of the world remains fragile, and that libraries are striving to do their best to provide access to information to their users, even if this is extremely problematic in some countries.

In particular, the 2005 World Report finds that:

  • While Internet access across the international library community is slowly increasing, many parts of the world, especially Africa and Asia are still struggling with the problems of the digital divide
  • The use and acceptance of Internet filtering software in libraries is increasing, fuelled by the problems of providing safe Internet access for children. Since the last World Report the use of filtering software has increased and more library associations are in favour of using it
  • Although anti-terror legislation is not currently a problem for libraries in the countries of many IFLA members, the consequences of the war against terror are affecting library users in places such as the USA, the Netherlands and Syria. Librarians in other countries around the world are concerned about the possible future effects of anti-terror legislation
  • Violations of intellectual freedom that affect library users continue to occur around the world. Censorship, restrictions of press freedom and governmental restriction and surveillance of Internet use were reported in many countries including China, Egypt, Italy, Nepal and Uzbekistan. In Turkmenistan it was reported that libraries have been closed under presidential order, on the grounds that ‘no one reads’
  • Libraries are making laudable efforts to raise awareness of HIV and AIDS and women’s access to information in many parts of the world, although in many countries the library service is yet to engage in these important areas
  • IFLA/FAIFE’s World Report Series is an extremely important instrument that helps the international library community move towards providing more equitable access to information for our users. The World Report 2005 helps measure our progress in tackling barriers to accessing information and identifies the outstanding issues that must be confronted if libraries are to play a full part in the information society.

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The IFLA/FAIFE World Report 2005 is an extensive 406-page document that updates and expands upon previous World Reports in 2001 and 2005. Taken together with summary reports in 2002 and 2004 examining libraries, conflicts and the Internet, and libraries and lifelong literacy, it is the fifth volume in the IFLA/FAIFE World Report Series. The report is available from the FAIFE Office or IFLA Headquarters and costs 27 EURO including handling and postage.