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

IFLA at EuroDIG 2019

The 2019 edition of the European Dialogue on Internet Governance (EuroDIG) took place in the Hague between 19th and 21st of June. This year, IFLA was involved in organising a panel on the European Copyright Reform, and attended a number of sessions and workshops to see how the latest developments in the sphere of internet policies can affect the library field.

21 June 2019 | FAIFE (Committee on Freedom of Access to Information and Freedom of Expression), Access to information, Digital divide, Freedom of information, IFLA and the Information Society, Netherlands, Conference, Data Literacy, Internet governance

Placing Libraries at the Heart of Connectivity Strategies

IFLA has submitted comments on two sets of plans to boost internet access in Africa, underlining the importance of including libraries. By doing this, governments not only support affordable internet access, but open up possibilities to develop digital skills and give people a safe place to get online.

4 June 2019 | FAIFE (Committee on Freedom of Access to Information and Freedom of Expression), Access to information, Digital inclusion, Internet access, Africa

Get Connected: Public Access Policy Toolkit

Connecting libraries offers a great way of bringing more people online, and providing a space where they can develop the skills and confidence necessary to get the most out of the Internet. The new Public Access Policy Toolkit looks at the different policy areas where libraries may need to advocate to make this happen.

11 April 2019 | FAIFE (Committee on Freedom of Access to Information and Freedom of Expression), Access to information, Digital inclusion, Internet access, Dynamic Coalition on Public Access in Libraries, Public Access