As part of our engagement at the UN Internet Governance Forum, we are happy to release a zero draft of the report of the Dynamic Coalition on Public Access in Libraries’ report for 2023. 20 years on from the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) Plan of Action, which highlighted the role of public access at the global level, it looks at how this has evolved over time. 

The report comes as preparations for WSIS+20, due in 2025, start to accelerate. This will be an opportunity to evaluate progress against the goals set out in the first decade of the century, as well as to evaluate the ongoing relevance of the agenda.

The original Plan of Action, set out in 2003, includes various references to the role of libraries, in particular as multi-purpose public access centres. This recognition is valuable, enabling libraries to advocate for inclusion in wider digital inclusion strategies.

However, in a very different world, both in terms of technology and the number of people online, is public access in libraries still relevant?

This report – published today as a zero draft – gathers expert views on this question, and in particular how far public access has been able to evolve in response to wider changes while retaining its strategic role.

We are very grateful to two major players – UNESCO and the Internet Society – for sharing their views, and look forward to expanding this work, both on the basis of the Dynamic Coalition on Public Access in Libraries session at the 2023 Internet Governance Forum, and subsequent contributions.

20 Years of Evolution in Public Access

This report is a first version of the Dynamic Coalition on Public Access’ main output for 2023, and summarises expert views on how the nature and place of public access in libraries in wider connectivity strategies has evolved since it was first included in the WSIS Plan of Action in December 2003...