UNESCO-IFLA Advocacy Libraries in Promoting Inclusive Knowledge Societies and Sustainable Development in WLIC 2023

Digital evolution is reshaping the global information ecosystem and positioning libraries at the center of knowledge dissemination and sustainability. Recognizing this, UNESCO and IFLA organized a joint session, bringing together experts to discuss the important role libraries can play in advancing sustainable development. World Library and Information Congress (WLIC) On 22 August 2023.

title, IFLA and UNESCO: Building knowledge societies together, the session underscored one unifying objective: making knowledge globally accessible in achieving sustainable development. Preserving and providing access to the documentary heritage that forms the memory of the world, promoting information literacy, accessibility and multilingualism, preserving and accessing information.

„Libraries are fundamental to building inclusive knowledge societies and preserving our shared heritage. Together with the library community, we can preserve documentary heritage and ensure access to information and knowledge for all.” UNESCO Assistant Director-General for Communication and Information Tawfiq Gelasi noted.

Echoing this sentiment, IFLA Secretary General, Sharon Memis, echoed that „Knowledge stands at the heart of our endeavors and ambitions.” This perspective, sustained throughout the dialogue, highlights the urgency for strategic, actionable initiatives within the international library community.

UNESCO’s role in building inclusive knowledge societies

This is reflected in the coordination between UNESCO and libraries New IFAP Strategic Plan (2023-2029) It draws attention to how emerging digital ecosystems are impacting knowledge communities and the role libraries can play in mitigating these impacts. Also, Program Specialist of UNESCO Information for all Program Secretariat Ms. Xianhong Hu stressed the utility of the renewed. IFLA-UNESCO Public Library ReportApproved by the IFAP Council during its 12th session 18 languagesThis makes it a valuable tool for academics and policy makers in understanding the evolving needs and roles of libraries.

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Dion Guswantini, Associate Program Specialist of the UNESCO Memory of the World Programme, highlighted its efforts and impact. 2015 Recommendation on Preservation and Access to Documentary Heritage, including in digital form, providing insights into key trends implemented by Member States over the last four years, navigating inherent challenges and seizing opportunities. An opportunity includes identifying and nominating collections of global significance and outstanding universal values ​​for the 2024-2025 cycle of the Memory of the World International Register, which is open until 30 November 2023.

The discourse turned to key questions: How do library and information professionals position themselves in this expanding panorama and meet the challenges of frontier technologies like AI? How does UNESCO protect documentary heritage within its sustainable development aspirations?

Practical Pathways to Libraries

During the session, a shared vision emerged that resonated with UNESCO representatives, leaders of IFLA’s Advisory Committees and librarians: building inclusive knowledge societies in the face of digital transformation and climate change, and preserving the world’s documentary heritage. Two key takeaways from the session illustrate clear directions for libraries:

  1. Digital transformation and AI: Library communities continue to use the UNESCO Recommendation on Artificial Intelligence Protocols endorsed by UNESCO 41.St Expand multi-stakeholder partnerships with relevant stakeholders to navigate the general conference and digital landscape in 2021. UNESCO also invites libraries to participate „Digital heritage of software source code” initiativeWith the aim of collecting, preserving and making available the source code of all software ever written through a dedicated open platform.

  2. Capacity building efforts: We focus on becoming knowledge access points under the guidance of UNESCO, especially for libraries in developing regions.

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Jonathan Hernandez, chair-elect of IFLA’s Advisory Committee on Freedom of Access to Information and Freedom of Expression (FAIFE), emphasized, „Under UNESCO’s guidance, libraries have the potential to become key frontiers for global knowledge access.”

Information for all program projects and initiatives in library development

Further to these goals, IFAP has supported programs aimed at promoting libraries as key knowledge centers, promoting digital literacy and facilitating multilingualism in the digital age. An ongoing project selected during IFAP’s call for project proposals in 2022 aims to establish an automated system for the National Museum Library of Sri Lanka. Currently being implemented, this initiative aims to refine collection management and provide a user-centric reference tool for national and international researchers.

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