31 January 2018
Libraries Lead in the War on Information Poverty: IFLA Addresses UN Commission on Social Development
The sustainable development of our societies requires access to information for all, and libraries are essential to achieving this. Donna Scheeder (IFLA President, 2015-2017) underlined this point in her address to the UN Commission on Social Development on 30 January in New York.
Significant advances are being made in bringing connectivity to the world’s population, both through extending traditional telecommunications networks, and newer technologies. But in order for people to be able to take advantage of the new possibilities – and avoid problems – an Internet connection alone is not enough.
Innovation and interconnections was the theme of a high-level panel organised at this year’s Commission on Social Development, the UN’s annual meeting on policies to put an end to poverty and promote growth for all. IFLA was invited to speak, talking about how libraries can make the difference, especially for those new to the Internet.
Past President Donna Scheeder, who was closely involved in the process of negotiating the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals, set out a negative and a positive scenario. In the negative, too many remain offline. Those who are either cannot find content relevant for them, or lack the confidence needed to make the most of the Internet.
But with libraries, not only can everyone enjoy free Internet access, but also be able to work with trained professionals to develop the skills and knowledge necessary to use it. With growing fears about fake news, libraries’ long experience of teaching information literacy was also more important than ever.
In closing, she underlined, “there is no truly sustainable development without access to information, and no meaningful, inclusive access to information without libraries”.