Role of Libraries in Strengthening Tolerant and Inclusive Societies

NGIAN, Lek Choh (2017) Role of Libraries in Strengthening Tolerant and Inclusive Societies. Paper presented at: IFLA WLIC 2017 – Wrocław, Poland – Libraries. Solidarity. Society. in Session 189 - Asia and Oceania.

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Language: English (Original)
Available under licence Creative Commons Attribution.


Role of Libraries in Strengthening Tolerant and Inclusive Societies

Libraries around the world have always played active roles to improve the quality of lives of the people. Some are more successful than others due to their particular local conditions, whether it is availability of funds, culture or history. With the implementation of the United Nation’s (UN) Sustainable Development Goals Programme (SDGs) which runs from 2016-2030, all governments are working hard towards achieving the goals that have been agreed by member countries. Libraries certainly have critical roles to play in many, if not all of the SDG goals. Examples that are more visible include how libraries help to improve goal 4 in raising the quality of education by enabling the skills of reading in young children, and how libraries help in bringing about gender equality in goal 5 by creating safe places for girls and boys to learn in common spaces and to live together harmoniously. Even in goals that do not seem to sit so clearly with libraries such as goal 9 on innovation and infrastructure, the ability of libraries to provide up-to-date information and data to support projects and programmes to strengthen innovation cultures and infrastructure outcomes allow libraries to play a role that no other institution can play so easily due to the ready access to information and librarians’ information search skills. Librarians are also trained in doing excellent secondary research and are able to extract good data and stories from across communities, countries and regions to provide perspectives which cannot be easily obtained without these skills. In end-2016, IFLA initiated a new programme called the International Advocacy Programme (IAP) that trains librarians on skills to step up advocacy efforts nationally to support their governments in achieving the UN SDGs. A group of core trainers were trained in the programme. They subsequently conducted 4 separate workshops in IFLA’s 4 regions, ie Asia-Oceania, Africa, Latin America and Europe. About 10 countries were invited to attend the workshops in each region. After the workshops, they returned to their countries to begin the journey of promoting awareness of the UN SDGs and in forming a delegation of influential librarians to meet policy makers to state their cause. This is so that librarians and libraries are seen as partners of the government in working towards achieving the UN SDGs.   This paper shares the results of the efforts made by a select number of participants, and the results of what they did in their respective countries. When libraries are seen as partners in helping the government to achieve the UN SDGs, hopefully libraries will receive greater support in terms of resources and expertise in improving libraries to enhance people’s lives, and to strengthen the fabric and cohesiveness of societies, bringing about global peace and prosperity.

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