Access & Preservation

Libraries are long-established institutions that play a unique role in collecting, preserving and providing access to knowledge.

Access

The human right of access to information provided by Article 19 of the UN Declaration of Human Rights depends not only on protecting freedom of expression but also on ensuring equal public access to and use of information. Libraries enable intellectual freedom and facilitate democratic exchange by providing access to information, ideas, and works of imagination to all members of society. The ability to produce and use knowledge has become a major factor in development and critical to a nation's comparative advantage.

Libraries have a major role in helping people meet their work, study, research, and leisure needs. They support important public policy goals such as literacy, education, research, employability, and health awareness. Through libraries people can learn new skills, find jobs, discover history and culture, understand current affairs, improve their health, connect to other sources of knowledge and generally improve their lives. Libraries serve as gateways for education, research, scholarship, creativity and innovation. Without adequate access to information, authors and creators would not be able to create new works, innovate and expand local and global knowledge.

Preservation

Libraries and archives effectively preserve and manage print and digital documents, and as such are an irreplaceable witness to past events, underpinning democracy, the identity of individuals and communities, and human rights.

Their mission is to ensure that an authentic record of knowledge created and accumulated by past and present generations be selected, preserved and made available. With this record, citizens and researchers may understand what governments and other bodies have done on their behalf and may construct a new body of knowledge to build an informed and better future for the world at large.

Historians, scholars and social commentators rely on material preserved to discover and analyse the past and to provide an insight into the future. Without the freedom to make preservation copies, many works, whether on fragile older media or on impermanent modern media and in digital form, will decay or become unusable.

Last update: 26 February 2013