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

Libraries at the Heart of Internet Governance Discussions in Latin America

The 10th Latin America and Caribbean Internet Governance Forum (LACIGF) took place in Panama City, on 2-4 August. LACIGF provides a space for multi-sectoral dialogue on the Internet Governance agenda for the region. IFLA was represented, highlighting how libraries can help tackle key issues facing the Internet today, from cost of access to educating Internet users about how to spot fake news.

7 August 2017 | FAIFE (Committee on Freedom of Access to Information and Freedom of Expression), Access to information, Internet access, Latin America and the Caribbean

Realising the Potential of Digital for Development: Not Without Libraries

As highlighted in the Development and Access to Information Report 2017, produced by IFLA in partnership with the Technology and Social Change Group at the University of Washington, for access to information to be meaningful, people need skills and the right conditions. Libraries can play a unique role in delivering both, as highlighted in IFLA's submission to the latest call for examples on Connecting and Enabling the Next Billion.

1 August 2017 | FAIFE (Committee on Freedom of Access to Information and Freedom of Expression), Access to information, Public Access, Education, Gender equality, innovation

From Information to Development: IFLA Participates in 2017 Asia-Pacific regional Internet Governance Forum

For information to play a full role in helping people to learn, find work and live healthily, simply laying cables may not be enough. The way in which access to knowledge is provided strongly affects the impact it has in communities, especially those facing the toughest development challenges. At the Asia-Pacific regional Internet Governance Forum, IFLA set out how libraries can help.

29 July 2017 | Asia and Oceania, Access to information, Thailand, Development, UN 2030 sustainable development goals, Internet Governance Forum, Internet governance