The 2021 European Dialogue on Internet Governance took place last week, bringing together stakeholders to discuss, collaborate and facilitate good practices around the policies and processes which shape the digital ecosystem today. IFLA summarises some key messages and takeaway lessons for libraries worldwide.

Since 2008, the European Dialogue on Internet Governance (EuroDIG) platform has been bringing together members of public, private and tech sectors, civil society and academia – to discuss and collaborate on questions around the digital ecosystem in the region (and the world).

Since the internet and ICT are increasingly central to a lot of the work that libraries do, such platforms offer a unique opportunity to contribute libraries’ insights to the ongoing internet governance dialogues, and keep track of relevant trends and developments.

Under the overarching theme of “Into Europe’s Digital Decade”, the 2021 EuroDIG facilitated discussions around digital literacy and inclusion, human rights online, content and media, innovation, security – and more. IFLA engaged with, participated and listened in on various sessions – from digitalisation and sustainability to online learning and education – to share a library perspective and flag developments which may be of relevance.

Library practices and internet governance: a fundamental link

Some of this year’s sessions highlighted issues closely related to the practical everyday experiences of libraries around the world. How to make digital educational materials more accessible and discoverable? How to leverage online educational and learning platforms to support wellbeing and social interaction?

Other discussions offer insights on how libraries’ longstanding values and principles – from intellectual freedom to privacy and beyond – manifest online. What role does privacy literacy play in mitigating the data security and privacy challenges evolving with the rapid shift to digital? How can quality information and awareness-raising help mitigate public technology consumption patterns, and usher in a greener digital transformation?

A new IFLA blog outlines these EuroDIG 2021 discussions, key trends – and their links to library work and experiences.

Media literacy in focus

Maia Simonishvili of the National Parliamentary Library of Georgia led a session exploring the ways media literacy can help mitigate the spread of mis- and dis-information. Drawing on the dialogue among stakeholders from different backgrounds – from cybersecurity to the media sector – Maia highlights a few takeaway messages for libraries interested in championing media literacy (full session details are available at the EuroDIG Wiki):

* Discover the truth yourself! The young generation needs a new set of skills and literacies to discover the truth by themselves, to be able to make good decisions.

For libraries, this means that the younger generation in particular is an important target group for media literacy outreach and initiatives.

* The philosophical part of this question is that we often see news – and other sources of information – from our own points of view. As such, it is crucial to be aware of how people experience and make meaning of the media they interact with.

* Critical thinking needs to be implemented in educational institutions. However, in some cases implementing it in educational contexts might be more challenging if it clashes with cultural norms or political circumstances. The new way of media literacy requires new methods – and in some cases, local, context-specific recommendations, and new knowledge to develop new standards.

What does this mean for libraries? It highlights the immense role that local context plays in the implementation and impact of media literacy initiatives. Libraries can draw on their deep understanding of the local context and needs, to make sure that their media literacy learning opportunities have as deep an impact as possible within their own community.

*Media literacy learning needs to start at an early age, and playful and creative ICT-based learning tools can be a powerful way to teach children critical thinking and social awareness. Many children are interested in creating computer games themselves, which can be a helpful medium to share their needs and solutions.

This means that it can be worthwhile for libraries to further explore ways to deliver media literacy learning opportunities through playful ICT mediums. Here, libraries’ familiarity with offering digital skills learning opportunities and supporting digital creativity – as well as delivering virtual programming during the pandemic – can offer useful experience to draw on!

*Media literacy is one of the focal points for preventing or mitigating future pandemics. It can help inform the new generations about threats and prevention methods on time – to defend their health and future, even if their parents are not always ready for it. 

You can read more about the key updates and takeaway messages for libraries in a dedicated blog, revisit session recordings and draft EuroDIG messages – and check the Get Into IGF Guide to find out more about how libraries can get involved!