16 October 2020
Press Release: Every Community Connected - A Call to Action
[Note: edited 21 October to add pledges from A4AI and Gigabit Libraries Network]
The global health crisis has exposed the size and seriousness of the digital divide for all to see. The Partnership for Public Access (P4PA), a coalition of organisations representing libraries and technologists, has therefore called on governments and decision-makers to ensure that every community is connected, and, through libraries, has access to the content and skills needed to enjoy the benefits that the internet can bring.
Underlining the imperative of reliable, quality broadband and support in order to achieve goals in health, safety, education and economic wellbeing, the call underlines the proven contribution that public access solutions can make.
The signatories themselves pledge do all in their power to ensure every community is meaningfully connected. In turn, governments and other decision makers should aim to promote connectivity and access to content, especially for schools, to draw on the potential of libraries as laboratories for achieving the Sustainable Development Goals, and to ensure that libraries as well as other community institutions have the skills and resources to support people to become effective internet users.
The full text of the Call is below and on the P4PA website, followed by individual commitments by signatory organisations at bottom. Other organisations which would like to sign the Call to Action are invited to contact us by email.
Libraries in Response: Every Community Connected
The global health crisis has made the pre-existing global connectivity crisis more evident – and action more urgent – than ever before. Broadband access is critical to the health, safety, education and economic well-being of communities. Public Access is proven to be an economical and equitable way to connect every community.
We pledge to do all within our power to ensure every community is connected. In turn, we call on decision-makers at all levels to:
- Ensure that each community has access to at least one publicly-available, adequately connected, no-fee internet access point, and that every school has access to an online or offline library.
- Mobilize libraries to act as community labs for action research, improving how we connect, protect and respect each other, and work together to achieve the UN Sustainable Development Goals by 2030.
- Ensure adequate trained staffing and access to equipment for libraries and other community anchor institutions to provide a safe and secure access point to networks, respectful of privacy, and support for digital skills and education throughout life, enabling people to learn, earn and thrive.
Alliance for Affordable Internet (A4AI)
The Alliance for Affordable Internet (A4AI) stands committed to the sustainable development goal to connect humanity by 2030 and to ensure that this access is affordable for everyone. Support for public access is a critical part of this mission, and libraries offer the pre-existing infrastructure to propel our ambition. As part of the mission to connect every community, A4AI will:
- Identify examples of good practice of public access solutions from around the world;
- Continue to research and analyse the effectiveness of public access strategies as part of broadband policy in low- and middle-income countries to increase internet use and reduce the affordability barrier;
- Champion public access strategies as an essential part of a comprehensive broadband strategy that sets the target to expand internet use and lower the cost of connectivity; and
- Provide technical support to governments and other stakeholders looking to advance public access as part of their broadband policy programme.
Electronic Information for Libraries:
The EIFL Public Library Innovation Programme (EIFL-PLIP) advocates for equipping public libraries with computers and internet connections for free public use. Public libraries - trusted institutions, staffed by skilled information professionals - are uniquely placed to provide public access to information and communication technology and train people to use it. Through the EIFL-PLIP capacity building initiative in Africa we empower public librarians to use public access computers and internet connectivity creatively to provide digital literacy training and other services in communities, addressing critical needs and contributing to achieving local and global development goals.
Gigabit Libraries Network
“Libraries need to lead in providing access to digital public information and services.” -Don Means, GLN Director Since 2013, the Gigabit Libraries Network has joined with libraries and library agencies to fund and support projects that expand digital access through new “neighborhood library access stations" using an array of connectivity solutions
International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions
Maximising Access Now: A Library Pledge to promote digital inclusion and access to information during COVID-19 and Beyond
To the best of our abilities, and with full respect for the law and public health:
- We pledge to promote the best possible internet access for communities, reliably and at no or low cost, so that no-one should lack connectivity for financial reasons
- We pledge to promote the widest possible access to relevant digital content and services, supporting education, research, and economic, social and cultural participation
- We pledge to promote the strongest possible support for the development of digital skills, giving users the ability to be successful and confident internet users
- We pledge to promote equitable broadband policies at all levels.
16 October 2020, Download the Call as a pdf.