28 October 2017
Libraries Essential to Creating Informed, Independent, Information Literate Citizens
Media and information literacy (MIL) plays a key role in giving people the ability to find, understand, evaluate and create information. Libraries have a long expertise in helping users of all ages, in all situations do this, in order to create, innovate, and improve their lives. IFLA attended this year’s Global MIL Week feature conference in Jamaica in order to underline this point in front of an international audience.
IFLA President spoke in the opening session, alonside UNESCO Assistant Director-General Frank La Rue, and Jamaican Minister for Culture, Olivia Grange. She stressed the unique challenges we face today, with many calling for censorship and shutdowns as a means of taming the Internet, as well as the unique potential of libraries to provide an alterative – informed, critical, independent people, able to make their own decisions about what they see.
IFLA Secretary General Gerald Leitner moderated a session looking at libraries, media and information literacy and the SDGs. Alongside representatives of school and academic libraries, he underlined that empowering individuals with information – and the skills to use it – would be key to the people-centred development promoted by the UN.
IFLA section member Sheila Webber gave examples of how information literacy serves people throughout their lives, while chair of the Information Literacy Section Lisa Hinchliffe underlined how libraries, through information literacy, could turn people from downloaders into uploaders, not just able to receive, but also to contribute to democracy, innovation and creation.
IFLA International Leaders Programme Associate Robin Kear set out a vision on how libraries contribute to Internet universality, while Manager of Policy and Advocacy Stephen Wyber explained why information literacy could play a particular role in empowering women.
The IFLA team was also proud to meet with a team representing the whole library field in Jamaica, kindly hosted by the National Library. IFLA Secretary General Gerald Leitner explained the Global Vision, and encouraged everyone to play an active role in delivering it. The Jamaican team, who have already seen libraries integrated into their own national development plan under the UN’s 2030 Agenda, set out their efforts to coordinate advocacy efforts and so maximise their impact.
Interested in getting involved in UNESCO's work on MIL? Have a look at our Get into GAPMIL guide.