Libraries Driving Access to Knowledge (A2K)
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IFLA Publications Nr. 151
Chapters in Books
Introduction: Many individuals and representatives of organizations have stressed, to me, the importance bringing together a publication that records and explores the roles of information forums and workers, libraries and librarians in driving access to information. In an era such as this when there is an exponential growth of information, access is a critical issue. On numerous occasions at conferences and meetings the view has been expressed that at no other time in the history of information provision has there been such a dire need for libraries to drive access to knowledge and information. The exponential growth of information, fueled by the exploitation of media such as the web and social networking, demands that there be a mediator with the skills and capacity to extract trusted and authentic information. Such an intermediary also has to be able to deliver reliable and authoritative information to the information-seeking community as well as the new knowledge and information that has been created in recent times. It is this new knowledge and information helps to stimulate the growth and development of societies and the world. the one hand there is globally an unprecedented growth of information; and, on the other, for many there is a dearth of information as a consequence of the many barriers that hinder access to information. IFLA and the library world are cognizant that unfettered access to information is an essential in facilitating political stability to the world, quickening the pace of recovery from the internationally experienced recession, eradicating poverty, decreasing disease and ensuring a green environment. At its core, access to information ensures a just society for all. As a consequence, the creation of the Presidential Theme for 2009-2011 took these and other issues into account so that whatever the final decision, the theme would not only be relevant to the personal goals of the President but also one which would assist libraries and librarians to contribute significantly to addressing world issues as well as capture one of the key activities of the profession and its members. The final choice of theme for my Presidency during 2009-2011 was – Libraries Driving Access to Knowledge. This introductory chapter provides reflections on some of the key issues that were examined during my term as IFLA President (2009-2011). They are anchored in my Presidential theme and address the critical role that information workers, librarians and their respective institutions play in driving access to knowledge and information. The chapter represents the thinking that guided the conceptualization of my theme as well as the key points that emerged during my tenure as President in relation to thoughts and comments shared by colleagues and others with whom I interacted during my term. Early opportunities to explore my theme – Libraries Driving Access to Knowledge – with a wide cross-section of persons associated with our profession were at the Presidentelect’s Brain Storming Sessions at IFLA 74 and 75 which were held in Quebec City and Milan in August 2008 and 2009 respectively. In addition to sharing issues explored at those meetings and other events, this introductory chapter presents further refinements, views and perceptions on the theme as they emerged during my tenure as leader of our august association. Also contributing to this paper are a selection of thoughts from my acceptance speech at the 75th IFLA Congress in Milan 2009, my opening speech in Gothenburg 2010 and other presentations/reflections on my theme made during my Presidency. Two critical concepts, namely, knowledge and access underpin any consideration of access to knowledge. Thus, it is important to explore these concepts and my thinking about them as these will help to provide a background against which the subsequent chapters in this book can be considered. It is fully acknowledged that there may be differing and alternative views on these concepts. The following is provided as a backdrop against which the other contributions to this book can be placed.