At the 2013 World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS), IFLA hosted a workshop on 'Public Access to the Internet and the role of Libraries as an agent of development'.

The well-attended session took place on Thursday 16 May in Geneva, Switzerland and explored the importance of libraries as key partners for development. The diverse panel outlined the essential role libraries play in furthering development of communities.


  • Genevieve Clavel (Swiss National Library/IFLA)
  • Dan Mount (Civic Agenda)
  • RamunÄ— PetuchovaitÄ— (eIFL)
  • Jelena Rajic (Jagodina Public Library, Serbia)
  • Monica Aspe Benal (Ministry of Communications and Transport, Mexico)
  • Bernadette Lewis (Caribbean Telecommunications Union)
  • Paul Andre-Baran (IREX)

The workshop highlighted:

  • the importance of strengthening libraries, as existing and knowledgeable public spaces, has to be stressed further to governments and policy makers
  • access to information needs to be affordable for everyone and this can be achieved through public libraries
  • the role of libraries as agents for social inclusion is essential
  • the importance of adequate bandwidth to facilitate access to large amounts of multimedia content and services

The panellists and participants stressed the need for libraries' role in furthering development and community advancement and for governments and policy makers to actively include libraries in planning and executing of development initiatives.

IFLA has submitted a workshop report to UNESCO and the International Telecommunications Union and is seeking the incorporation of these points in the WSIS Forum outcome document, which will be released in the coming days.