Members of the Standing Committees of the IFLA Libraries for Children and Young Adults Section and the Reading Section, gathered in Durban for the annual World Library and Information Congress 2007, accepted the following Statement:

  • The Statement is built on the foundation of the IFLA/UNESCO Internet Manifesto Guidelines.
  • According to the Rights of the Child, art. 13 and 17, stated in the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (1989), children shall have freedom to seek, receive and impart information and ideas of all kinds, regardless of frontiers, either orally, in writing or in print, in the form of art, or through any other media of the child’s choice.
  • The child has access to information and material from a diversity of cultural, national and international sources, especially those aimed at the promotion of his or her social, spiritual and moral well-being and physical and mental health.
  • Therefore libraries shall not use filtering on Internet.
  • Libraries should have a clear policy on use of the Internet by children and young adults, and this policy should be explained to parents and caretakers when children first begin to use the facilities in the library.
  • Although libraries do not use filtering, their policy should be that some issues are not allowed in the library; e.g. libraries do not allow patrons (children nor adults) to use internet for porn, violence, discrimination etc. according to the legislation in each country.
  • The public library should promote appropriate guidelines for the protection of the child from information and material injurious to his or her well-being, related to his/her ages.
  • Internet offers the libraries the opportunity to put themselves as an information mediator for children. Children’s library services should make use of that opportunity.
  • Media-education, e.g. learning how to use Internet and how to interpret the information that they get via Internet for children, their parents and their carers, is one of the mean goals of the library and responsibility of librarians.
  • The public library should offer free access and use of Internet to children (similar to the traditional information sources as encyclopaedia, dictionaries etc.) Equipment and software must be accessible to all children, regardless of disabilities.
  • Every children’s librarian should know the way on the digital highway as well as in children’s literature.

To summarize:

No filtering (because it doesn’t work properly, it says to young people that they are not worth of trust and that someone from outside is responsible for what they are doing)…
but yes, we also offer a selection of good quality sources.
No censorship
but yes, good media-education of all – librarians, teachers, parents and children.
Yes protection
but the main responsibility lies with the parents.
Finding a new ways… work together with parents, children and librarians to find a new ways of co-operation and to set up common rules.

This statement is offered as a recommendation to the staff of public libraries and several other organisations. It will also be published in the SCL and Reading Newsletters.