Did you know that you can find information about different library policies and laws from around the world on IFLA’s Library Map of the World?  

Check out country profiles to find information about national policy documents for libraries such as official library laws, strategies, development plans and guidelines, and legal deposit and exceptions for libraries in copyright laws with links to full text documents.

See below just some examples of how different countries use a variety of provisions to define the rights, roles and responsibilities of libraries, and so ensure people’s right to information and development: 

Overall strategies for the library field 

  • In Namibia, the Information for Self-Reliance and Development: A Policy Framework for Libraries and Allied Information Agencies for Namibia, among other goals, highlights the necessity of improving and strengthening equitable access to information and learning resources in order to ensure economic and social empowerment for communities and individuals. 
  • In Malaysia, the National Policy on Library and Information Services 1994 sets out broad guidelines for the systematic and planned development of libraries and information services in keeping with the needs of major sectoral areas as well as the needs of all sections of the communities whether in urban or rural areas. 

Policies focused on public libraries 

  • In the Netherlands, according to the Public Library Facilities Act, public libraries should give the general public access to information and culture, guided by principles such as independence, credibility, accessibility, pluralism and authenticity. Their concrete tasks are making available knowledge and information, facilitating learning, promoting reading and a taste for literature, encouraging engagement with arts and culture, and organising community meetings and debate. 
  • In the Republic of Moldova, the Strategy for Consolidating and Modernizing the Network of Territorial Public Libraries envisages strengthening and modernising  the network of local public libraries in order to meet the needs of users and communities, seize the opportunities of the digital age, strengthen the role of public libraries in the community, encourage effective partnerships, stimulate innovative practices, and promote lifelong learning. 

Policies focused on school libraries 

  • In Greece, in addition to the Public Libraries Regulation, since 2018 they have a specific Act for the Establishment of a Public Primary School Libraries School Network. It covers the objectives of public primary school libraries as well as regulation of staffing and material management issues. 

Policies focused on prison libraries 

  • In Luxembourg, according to the Grand-Ducal Regulation of 3 December 1970 concerning the administration and the internal regime of penitentiary establishments, since 1970 it has been compulsory to have a library in every penitentiary establishment, and to guarantee access to the collections. 

 Libraries also feature in wider policies and strategies, for example: 

National development plans 

  • In Costa Rica, the National Development Plan 2015-2018 establishes objectives, strategies and financing models for the development and modernisation of libraries in the educational sector (transforming libraries into resource centres for learning). 

Persons with disabilities 

  • In Bulgaria, the National Strategy for People with Disabilities provides for an accessible environment and the necessary conditions for the use of library materials by persons with disabilities. 

Reading and literacy 

  • In Costa Rica, the Reading Promotion Policy encourages reading at the national level. In addition, it includes steps to enhance language skills and makes it possible to strengthen the development of writing in the student community. 
  • In Bulgaria, public libraries are included in the National Strategy for Promoting and Improving Literacy with programs to promote reading and to provide access to books for socially disadvantaged people. 

Young people 

  • In Bulgaria, specific library-related tasks are included in the National Youth Strategy aiming to improve the access of young people to the Internet and digital content in public libraries in Bulgaria. 

Cultural development 

  • In the Russian Federation, the national project “Culture”, among its main goals, sets out as targets for 2024 to re-equip 660 municipal libraries according to a new set of standards; to train 200,000 people at centres for professional development in the field of culture; to digitize 48,000 heritage books for the National Digital Library; and to modernise 110 public libraries (re-equipment) in 2019. 

Digital cultural heritage 

  • In Latvia, the Digital Cultural Heritage Development Strategy includes promotion of use of digital cultural heritage. Actions include ensuring use of digital content in education and research, national identity and societal integration processes, and promoting re-use in new products and services. 

Through our country profiles, you can also take a look at legal deposit laws and learn about exceptions for libraries in copyright laws from Armenia, Australia, Bulgaria, Colombia, Costa Rica, Czechia, Germany, Ghana, Greece, Israel, Latvia, Luxembourg, Malaysia, Namibia, Nepal, Netherlands, Republic of Moldova, Russian Federation, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, Singapore, Suriname, Zambia, and Zimbabwe.