The World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS), back in 2005, underlined the imp0rtance of connecting all public libraries to the internet as part of wider efforts to ensure that the internet works for everyone. In our latest submission to the WSIS reporting process, we highlight great examples of how libraries are making this happen, and the need to reaffirm and reinforce the role of libraries in inclusive connectivity.

The past year has seen continued affirmation of the role that internet access in libraries can play in delivering on the wider goals of WSIS, building on the combination of the opportunities created by the internet with the unique combination of spaces and staff offered by libraries.

Initiatives launched during the pandemic, in response to lockdowns, have shown a continued relevance, and seem likely to become permanent fixtures. These include new partnerships and new ways to turn connectivity into real-world impact.

At the same time, there remain challenges about under-investment by governments in libraries, meaning that they are less able to fulfil their potential in many countries and regions than would otherwise be the case.

Looking to the future, and in particular in the context of efforts to promote school connectivity, it is time for a new affirmation of the value of connecting libraries as part of wider digital inclusion strategies. Such work should ensure that libraries are not set up to fail by encouraging and enabling partnerships, and ensuring that library staff have the skills, support and tools to realise their potential here.

IFLA’s submission to the WSIS reporting process expands on these issues, and highlights a wider range of recommendations from the library field, both as concerns actions we can take ourselves, and what we expect from governments and others.

Download IFLA’s submission to the WSIS reporting process 2022.