Public access in libraries can be a powerful tool to bring more people online – particualrly as the world is working to meet the global connectivity goals and ambitions in the next few years. But how to realise its potential? You can join the discussion and help shape the agenda of the Dynamic Coalition on Public Access in Libraries for 2021!

Towards equitable and affordable connectivity for all

Over the next few years, deadlines are fast approaching to deliver on global connectivity and digital inclusion ambitions and goals. The ITU/UNESCO Broadband Commission targets set out the objective of broadband use reaching 75% of the world’s population, including 65% of people in developing countries and 35% in LDCs (right now, these figures are estimated to stand at 53.6%, 47% and 19.1%, respectively).

Meanwhile, the United Nations Secretary-General’s Roadmap for Digital Cooperation urges the world to achieve universal connectivity by 2030 – for everyone to have affordable and safe access to the internet.

Over the past years, we have seen valuable progress achieved in these areas– with more people going online for the first time, increasing device ownership, and more policy measures to expand connectivity and affordability. But as persistent digital inequalities remain within and between countries, urgent action is needed to deliver on these ambitions and expand affordable and equitable connectivity.

Libraries stand for digital inclusion

Libraries worldwide are, of course, working to help realise these goals and ambitions. Last year, hundreds of members of the global library field signed up to the Library Pledge for Digital Inclusion – committing to action and highlighting the key ways libraries can support meaningful connectivity.

The unique experiences of different libraries with public access and digital inclusion initiatives help highlight good practices, ways to overcome common pitfalls, and maximise this potential. This lies at the heart of the work of IFLA and our partners within the Internet Governance Forum community, in particular through the Dynamic Coalition for Public Access in Libraries (DC-PAL).

Are public access, digital skills training or other connectivity initiatives a part of your library’s work? Or are you interested in finding out more about what libraries can do to support digital inclusion? 2021 offers new opportunities to get involved with the work of DC-PAL, join the discission and share your experiences and insights!

DC-PAL – getting involved with the Internet Governance Forum community

DC-PAL is an open ongoing collaboration within the IGF to facilitate policy dialogue and action around public access in libraries as a valuable tool to support digital inclusion. The work of DC-PAL over the past few years includes:

  • preparing a Public Access Policy Toolkit, to helps libraries understand how their policy environment impacts their ability to support digital inclusion – and identify key areas for advocacy;
  • contributing to the Connecting and Enabling the Next Billion initiative (see our contribution from 2019);
  • exploring the role of libraries in broadband policies and plans;
  • bringing together experts from the policy, tech, civil society and library fields – to foster dialogue on the role of libraries in supporting digital inclusion.

Now, the Coalition has launched a collaborative agenda-setting initiative. The goal is to understand better what key trends and issues in the field of public access are at play in 2021, and to define the priorities for the Coalition’s work this year.

Both current members and all stakeholders interested in public access are welcome to contribute!  Are you interested in innovative ways for libraries to expand their connectivity offer beyond their walls? Or would you like to see more dialogue about effective ways for libraries to offer digital skills learning opportunities – and better understand what skills are crucial for users today? Have you encountered challenges with providing access to key digital content? Are there other key trends or issues you would like to highlight?

  • You can also join one of the open consultation calls organised by DC-PAL – to find out more about the work of the Coalition this year, key tends and priorities for 2021, and ways to get involved!

    • Meeting 1: Apr 22, 07:00-07:40 UTC (for participants from Asia and Oceania, MENA, Sub-Saharan Africa and Europe)
    • Meeting 2: Apr 22, 17:00-17:40 UTC (for participants from LAC and North America)

If you would like to get in find out more or join a consultation meeting, don’t hesitate to send us a note. We look forward to defining the agenda for the role of libraries in championing digital inclusion in 2021 together!