Meaningful access to information: Libraries, development and the United Nations

Access to information empowers individuals, communities, nations and organisations to make better decisions, and live better lives.

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The United Nations 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda seeks to end all forms of poverty, fight inequalities and tackle climate change, while ensuring that no one is left behind. And IFLA – the International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions – believes libraries have a key role to play.

There is no sustainable development without access to information. And there is no meaningful, inclusive access to information without libraries. - Donna Scheeder – IFLA President.

IFLA (with TASCHA) has published Development and Access to Information (DA2I).  The report shows how essential access to information is to development.

The report explores the role access to information can play in supporting specific Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and shares case studies and examples of this in action.  These include:

Libraries as agents for sustainable development 

  • Libraries exist in nearly every country and in many less-developed countries provide many citizens with their only access to the internet
  • Library internet access is also valued by people who have home access to the web
  • Libraries are a social space and are more than their buildings
  • Libraries play a key role in developing the skills of individuals (examples include in the report include micro-entrepreneurship training in Indonesia; teaching computer skills in Ghana; information literacy skills for girls in Burkina Faso)
  • Libraries support gender equality (TechAge Girls programme in Myanmar; digital skills training for female farmers in Uganda)
  • Libraries promote civic engagement (Libraries in Columbia working to deliver reconciliation in formerly militarised areas)
  • Libraries working in partnership to support development (a partnered-project in South Africa to improve ICT employment opportunities to young people)

The full report 110 pages is available here.