We live in strange times, with increasing challenges for the library and information sector. Since the last issue of this newsletter, the world has seen military action in Europe leading to destruction of some libraries, archives and museums, not to mention the people who use them. The effects felt around the world are not only economic and geo-political, they include the aggravation of the global information war raging in all media, obliging us to reflect on the meaning of truth and the reality of misinformation and disinformation.

For us in the library sector, it is more important than ever to defend the values we believe in, and which underlie our work to defend freedom of access to information, equitable access for all sectors in society without discrimination, and freedom of expression among the other human rights agreed many decades ago by the international community.

We must work harder to raise awareness of the value of library services in preserving and providing information, to support education and science, and particularly to help develop media and information literacy, in the hope that the communities we serve will use these intellectual tools to defend their cultures and their democratic societies.

These professional values, and the aims of library services, are reflected in the activities of the Regional Division Committee for Asia-Oceania this year. Let me just mention three examples:

  • The hybrid event that we organised on 30 March, alongside ESCAP’s Asia-Pacific Forum on Sustainable Development, in Bangkok, to explore various ways in which partnerships between libraries and other sectors in the region can help power sustainable economic and social development and post-Covid recovery. See the summary report in this regional Newsletter, and the full report on the IFLA website.
  • A planned webinar in June where we are collaborating with other IFLA units (Management of Library Associations and New Professionals Special Interest Group) to discuss leadership of associations in our sector, and promotion of diversity.
  • A libraries workshop on equitable access to information, which we plan to hold in September, at the Asia-Pacific regional Internet Governance Forum (APrIGF), whose theme ‘People at the Centre: Envisioning an Internet that is Inclusive, Sustainable and Trusted’ is one that resonates with us.

We hope to ‘see’ you at some of our events!

Written by: Winston Roberts, Chair, IFLA Regional Division Committee for Asia and Oceania