3 December 2015

Participants Discuss Public Access in Libraries at Internet Governance Forum 2015

The Internet Governance Forum (IGF) 2015, with the theme ‘Evolution of Internet Governance: Empowering Sustainable Development,’ took place in João Pessoa, Brazil, from 10-13 November, with 2,400 onsite participants and additional remote participation. The barriers to increasing access to information as identified in the United Nations 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development was a frequent focus of conversation.

Statement of Principles on Public Access in Libraries

At the main session of the IGF, Dynamic Coalitions (informal issue-specific groups) formally presented their work to the larger IGF stakeholder group for feedback for the first time. Christina de Castell, Manager, Policy and Advocacy, reported on the work of the Dynamic Coalition on Public Access in Libraries (DC-PAL) and presented a statement of principles for feedback. Initial feedback on the principles was positive, and further comments can be provided online until the end of December 2015. Comments are also open on the statements of other Dynamic Coalitions, such as on net neutrality.

The DC-PAL Statement of Principles on Public Access in Libraries includes the following concepts:

  • Libraries should be recognized as an existing vehicle for ensuring universal internet access and be used when available to initiate infrastructure and connectivity for all.
  • Governments should provide an enabling environment for universal access to information by providing policy and legislation (including allocation of funds where needed) to support the role of libraries in providing public access to ICTs, internet connectivity, related training and access to information and knowledge so that all people can participate fully in society.
  • Libraries should be supported in their role of offering training and skills development for technology, information and media literacy to all.
  • Individuals have the right to privacy when they seek information; internet users in libraries must not be subject to surveillance of their activities.
  • Libraries should be supported in enabling the creation of local content and in promoting and providing online access to local, government and open access content.

Other IFLA workshops at IGF

In the workshop for the Dynamic Coalition earlier in the IGF, IFLA Deputy Secretary-General, Stuart Hamilton, discussed the work of IFLA on the UN 2030 Agenda  for Sustainable Development, EIFL Public Library Innovation Programme Manager, Ramune Petuchovaite, gave an overview of EIFL’s work in Kenya, Uganda and Ghana to train library workers, and Manu Bhardwaj from the US State Department described the US Global Connect Initiative. Members of the DC-PAL discussed the concrete actions that each IGF stakeholder group can take to further the principles for public access to the Internet in libraries, and to prioritize libraries and existing community spaces in their efforts to connect the next billion to the Internet.

IFLA also co-organized the session ‘Unlocking internet economy through copyright reform’ where participants discussed whether the copyright system is supporting the Internet’s potential to boost economic growth and promote cultural diversity.

Background

The Dynamic Coalition on Public Access in Libraries (DC-PAL) was formed following the 2011 annual meeting of the IGF and is coordinated by IFLA and EIFL. The DC-PAL aims to engage the IGF community in discussion about public access to the internet and the role and potential of libraries. The IGF is a multistakeholder platform that enables the discussion of public policy issues pertaining to the Internet.

Learn more about the DC-PAL here

Access to information, Access to knowledge, Advocacy, IGF

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