IFLA and the Information Society

Libraries, WSIS and Internet Governance

Photo courtesy of Cook Jones

Libraries have been at the heart of the information society since the very early days of the information and communication technology revolution, continuously adapting to new means of communication to fulfill their mandate of providing universal access to information and knowledge.

Since 2002, IFLA has contributed to the definition of information society policy at the international level through its participation in the World Summit Information Society (WSIS). Consequently, the WSIS Tunis Agenda recognized the important public-service role of libraries in providing open, equitable and affordable access to information and of improving ICT literacy and community connectivity, particularly in underserved communities. IFLA’s statements on the information society during the first period of WSIS tell the story of our engagement between 2002-2005.

Since 2005, IFLA has continued to engage at the International level to define the policies and strategies to achieve the WSIS Plan of Action and build an inclusive information society. Through its participation in the WSIS Forum, the WSIS+10 Review process and in the Internet Governance Forum (IGF), IFLA advocates for the recognition of public access to the Internet as a key for addressing the challenges of development and reaching the UN Millennium Development Goals. In January 2013 the IFLA Governing Board endorsed a revised Position on Internet Governance which states clearly the issues IFLA believes should be addressed in any post WSIS framework.

IFLA continues to engage on issues that affect the ability of libraries and library users to benefit from the possibilities that the Internet offers. The Principles on Public Access in Libraries, agreed by a coalition of actors, sets out how to help more people to get online. IFLA also sets out positions and makes recommendations on issues that affect access to knowledge online, such as the Right to Be Forgotten, and Net Neutrality.

These webpages contain background information on the WSIS and IGF and why librarians should pay attention to the discussions that take place in these forums, as well as information on what IFLA is doing to promote libraries as part of its information society advocacy. They also outline how you can get involved to get the library viewpoint across.

Access to information, Advocacy, Internet access, Information society

Last update: 13 August 2016

Latest News

Offline Internet: Providing Access without a Connection

For around half of the world’s population, Internet connectivity is not a reality. Often, this is simply because there are no cables, or a good enough mobile signal, where they live. Cut off from information about jobs, education or healthcare, the lack of access risks compounding their marginalisation. A conference in Tempe, United States, looked at how library initiatives to provide 'offline Internet' can better help people bridge the information divide.

20 February 2018 | Access to information, Internet access, Social inclusion, United States

Stay Safe Online? Go to your Library! IFLA Celebrates Safer Internet Day 2018

Libraries guarantees people access to knowledge through literacy, innovation and creativity. Through the work of libraries, users young and old are empowered to discover, better their lives and stay safe online. They guarantee a strong and democratic society and they enable an open and informed citizenry.

6 February 2018 | FAIFE (Committee on Freedom of Access to Information and Freedom of Expression), Children, Internet access, Young adults

Libraries, Media and Information Literacy Only Sustainable Response to Fake News

Faced with growing concerns over fake news, the European Union launched a consultation on fake news, and how to fight it in November 2017. IFLA has responded, underlining that the only sustainable response is a literate, critical population. Libraries are essential in delivering this, and should be supported to do so.

2 February 2018 | FAIFE (Committee on Freedom of Access to Information and Freedom of Expression), Access to knowledge, Information literacy, Europe, Media and Information Literacy (MIL)