Alexandria Manifesto on Libraries, the Information Society in Action

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Libraries and information services contribute to the sound operation of the inclusive Information Society.

They enable intellectual freedom by providing access to information, ideas and works of imagination in any medium and regardless of frontiers.

They help to safeguard democratic values and universal civil rights impartially and by opposing any form of censorship.

The unique role of libraries and information services is that they respond to the particular questions and needs of individuals. This complements the general transmission of knowledge by the media, for example, and makes libraries and information services vital to a democratic and open Information Society. Libraries are essential for a well informed citizenry and transparent governance, as well as for the take-up of e-government.

They also build capacity by promoting information literacy and providing support and training for effective use of information resources, including Information and Communication Technologies. This is especially critical in promoting the development agenda because human resources are central to economic progress. In these ways libraries contribute significantly to addressing the digital divide and the information inequality that results from it. They help to make the Millennium Development Goals a reality, including reduction of poverty. They will do more with quite modest investments. The value of the return is at least 4-6 times the investment.

In pursuit of the goal of access to information by all peoples, IFLA supports balance and fairness in copyright. IFLA is also vitally concerned to promote multilingual content, cultural diversity and the special needs of Indigenous peoples and minorities.

IFLA and libraries and information services share the common vision of an Information Society for all adopted by the World Summit on the Information Society in Geneva in December 2003. That vision promotes an inclusive society based on the fundamental right of human beings both to access and to express information without restriction and in which everyone will be able to create, access, use and share information and knowledge.

IFLA urges national, regional and local governments as well as international organisations to:

  • invest in library and information services as vital elements in their Information Society strategies, policies and budgets;
  • upgrade and extend existing library networks to obtain the greatest possible benefits for their citizens and communities;
  • support unrestricted access to information and freedom of expression;
  • promote open access to information and address structural and other barriers to access; and
  • recognise the importance of information literacy and vigorously support strategies to create a literate and skilled populace which can advance and benefit from the global Information Society.

Adopted in Alexandria, Egypt, Bibliotheca Alexandrina, on 11 November 2005

Associated documents:

Glasgow Declaration on Libraries, Information Services and Intellectual Freedom

IFLA/UNESCO Public Library Manifesto

IFLA/UNESCO School Library Manifesto: The school library in teaching and learning for all

IFLA Internet Manifesto

Maintaining our digital memory: a declaration of support for the World Summit on the Information Society. Communiqué from the Conference of Directors of National Libraries (CDNL), Oslo, August 2005.

Beacons of the Information Society - Alexandria Statement on Information Literacy and Lifelong Learning. High level Colloquium on Information Literacy and Lifelong Learning, Bibliotheca Alexandrina, 6-9 November 2005.

IFLA Statement on Open Access to Scholarly Literature and Research Documentation.

Some further facts

There are worldwide:

  • more than half a million library service points,
  • 15.000 km of library shelving,
  • well over half a million Internet connections in libraries,
  • 1,5 trillion loan transactions each year,
  • and 2.5 billion registered library users.

The claim that libraries return at least 4-6 times the investment is supported by numerous studies.

See for example:

Svanhild Aabø. The Value of Public Libraries. Paper presented at the World Library and Information Congress in Oslo, August 2005. 

Measuring our value. British Library 2003.

José-Marie Griffith & Donald King. Taxpayers return on Investment in Florida Public Libraries, September 2004.

Daniel D. Barron et. al.. The Economic Impact of Public Libraries in South Carolina, 2005.

IFLA Headquarters
The Hague, Netherlands

Manifestos, WSIS (World Summit on the Information Society), Information society, Freedom of expression, Access to information

Last update: 26 January 2015