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 the Internet Governance Forum 2017

IFLA participated in the 2017 Internet Governance Forum (IGF), held in Geneva. The IGF is a global multi stakeholder platform that facilitates the discussion of public policy issues pertaining to the Internet. It is, in fact, a venue for exploring questions around the role of the Internet and our digital future in an inclusive and democratic manner. The theme of the 2017 edition was “Shape your Digital Future”.

16 January 2018 | FAIFE (Committee on Freedom of Access to Information and Freedom of Expression), Access to information, Internet access, Internet governance, Switzerland

Bringing Internet Access to All Libraries: Progress and Plans

When the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) set out principles for how the Internet should be run in 2003, the governments present fixed the target of connecting public libraries. When these targets were updated in 2010, governments underlined – all libraries should be connected to the Internet, in order to support a Web that works for all. IFLA's contribution to WSIS annual reporting reflects on progress made in 2017, and to be made in 2018.

8 January 2018 | FAIFE (Committee on Freedom of Access to Information and Freedom of Expression), Access to information, IFLA and the Information Society, Internet access

European Parliament Research Underlines Library Role in Media Literacy

Libraries have long helped users to develop their capacity to spot where information is needed, and then to find it and apply it. A recently published research report from the European Parliament underlines how vital this role is in an Internet-enabled society.

4 January 2018 | FAIFE (Committee on Freedom of Access to Information and Freedom of Expression), Access to information, Access to knowledge, Internet access, Europe, Media and Information Literacy (MIL)