Tag Archives: human rights

The 10-Minute International Librarian #50: Re-read the universal declaration of human rights

A key argument for the existence of libraries is not just that they are useful for their communities, but also deliver on key rights.

Central to this is the right of access to information, as set out in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, agreed in 1948.

Spelt out in full, this gives everyone freedom of expression, including the rights to seek, receive and impart information.

This is Article 19 of the Declaration, but there are 29 others!

A number of these refer to key issues for libraries, such as education, privacy, cultural participation and beyond.

These can be helpful as you thinking about your own work in an international context, as well as provide references for your advocacy.

So for our 50th 10-Minute International Librarian exercise, re-read the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

Think about which articles refer to issues which matter for libraries, or where libraries can contribute.

You could even write down a couple of ideas about how you, through your work, you deliver on each of the articles you identify.

Share your ideas about which articles matter for libraries, and how you contribute in the comments below.

Good luck!


This idea relates to the IFLA Strategy! 1.4 Shape public opinion and debate around open access and library values, including intellectual freedom and human rights.

As we publish more ideas, you will be able to view these using the #10MinuteInternationalLibrarian tag on this blog, and of course on IFLA’s Ideas Store! Do also share your ideas in the comments box below.

April Fool’s! Five things which aren’t true, but should they be?

In many parts of the world, 1 April is a day for playing pranks on others – April Fool’s Day. In some countries, there’s a tradition even of newspapers or other media publishing hoax stories as jokes – to take two examples from the BBC, the story of the spaghetti harvest in 1957, or of flying penguins in 2008.

Of course, with much concern at the moment about the impact of fake news, published with more sinister motivations than just to amuse people, it’s clear that it’s not only on 1 April that it’s necessary to apply critical thinking to what we read, hear or watch.

To mark the day, we’ve gathered a collection of five imaginary headlines which are definitely not true, together with short discussions about why (or why not!) we might wish they were.


World Heritage Convention extended to documentary heritage!

The 1972 World Heritage Convention is a crucial agreement in the history of international cooperation and norm setting around culture and heritage. As well as recognising the importance of heritage itself, it underlined the key connection between human and natural heritage.

On the basis of the Convention, there is an ongoing process of work bringing together governments and civil society, and of course the well known World Heritage Programme and its designated World Heritage Sites.

However, the definition of heritage in the Convention does not cover the sort of documentary heritage held by libraries. Indeed, while there are Conventions for underwater heritage, intangible heritage, and cultural diversity, there is nothing at Convention-level specifically concerning the sorts of works in library collections.

Ensuring that the importance of library collections is properly recognised – and so also of the work that libraries do – is a key area of work for IFLA in its advocacy, as well as in its support of the teams at UNESCO working with documentary heritage.

We cannot realise the full potential of culture and cultural heritage to support wider societal goals if we do not consider all elements of culture properly.


Debates about the role of major digital platforms extend to scholarly communications!

Discussions are intensifying in different parts of the world about whether and what action should be taken in response to concerns about the size and power of major digital platforms.

A key issue has been not just their dominance in particular markets, such as search, but rather what happens when they are active in different markets, and their power in one gives them an unfair advantage in others. For example, Google has faced challenges linked to whether Google Shopping results are prioritised in web search results.

However, it is not only at the level of the traditional internet platforms that there are concerns. Within the scholarly communication field, in addition the dominance of journal publishing by a small number of large companies, there have also been worries about what happens when other research services or infrastructure are bought up by the same companies.

Initiatives such as SCOSS are working to keep them independent, and so resist situations where researchers find themselves locked-in to specific companies’ services.

For the time being, the energy spent on chasing (admittedly much larger, but sometimes less profitable) American internet companies has not yet extended to the scholarly communications field, but a deeper look would certainly be helpful in order to understand the situation – and the risks – better.


New Sustainable Development Goal to be Added for Culture!

IFLA has placed the SDGs at the heart of our advocacy work, not just because they represent a core area of work of the United Nations, but also because they provide so much scope for talking about all the ways in which libraries contribute to progress.

Of course, one of the risks with being important across different policy areas is that no single ministry, agency or team can fully take account of the value libraries bring.

The same goes with culture, including cultural institutions like libraries. As the Culture2030Goal campaign review of culture in SDG implementation underlined, there are plenty of agreements about the cross-cutting importance of culture, but relatively little practical action to realise this in national development plans and reports.

A key reason for this is likely to be the fact that culture was not recognised as a standalone goal (as well as a cross-cutting factor of development). The chances, of course, of amending the 2030 Agenda are very low, and so efforts for now need to focus on ensuring that governments do more to integrate culture into planning.

But looking ahead to what comes after the 2030 Agenda, maybe this headline could be true one day?


Right to a Library Declared by Human Rights Council!

The freedom to seek, impart and receive information – Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights – is at the heart of IFLA’s values, and of the work of libraries globally.

Indeed, libraries have a role in delivering on many of the rights set out not just in the Universal Declaration, but also in other Conventions, such as that on the Rights of People with Disabilities or on the Rights of the Child.

In parallel, in countries where there is library legislation, this is often based on an obligation on actors (often at the local or regional level) to provide library services, with these described to a greater or lesser level of detail, in effect setting out that people should have a right to a library (see the EBLIDA study for more).

What chance is there of such a provision making it to the international level? This is unclear, both because the right to a variety of library services is already covered by the texts mentioned above, and because trying to set out any specific level of library service to be provided could end up risk becoming a ceiling rather than a floor.

At the same time, stronger recognition of the role of libraries as part of the infrastructure for delivering on human rights for all is always welcome, and IFLA’s Advisory Committee on Freedom of Access to Information and Freedom of Expression is active in underlining this role in submissions to the Human Rights Council, building up the bank of examples that can be used in advocacy.


Amazon to Open a Physical Library!

A lot has been made of Amazon beginning to open physical bookshops, alongside supermarkets and other services, given that of course the company has traditionally been seen as harmful to retail. There are 24 dedicated bookstores, and 34 shops selling books and other products across the US already.

The venture into physical stores may likely be down to a recognition that for many things, the physical experience is important, both in terms of making choices, and simply for wellbeing.

Of course, Amazon also has its Prime service, offering subscribers wide access to eBooks for a monthly fee. Could a next logical step be to develop, effectively, a physical subscription library?

There could be arguments in favour, at least for the company. Greater proximity to, and interaction with, readers is valuable, as of course is information about what and how they read. Operating a library could also open up segments of the population which cannot, or can only sometimes, afford to buy books.

Of course the downside, from a library point of view, would be that any such initiative would clearly have a commercial focus, and so lose the emphasis on meeting the needs of readers (rather than maximising profits). There would be little incentive to provide the wide range of other services that libraries offer, and of course there could concerns about how reader data would or could be used.

For all these reasons, libraries should be in a position to hold their ground if they can clearly articulate their value, although as will be underlined in an upcoming interview, concern about the role of Amazon is a reality in other areas.

What do we talk about when we talk about access? 10 Suggestions to support library advocacy

We talk a lot about the importance of access to information in advocacy around libraries.

This access is at the heart of what libraries themselves do of course, helping users to find the information that they need to take better decisions, and participate in the life of the community.

Our institutions have been doing this for thousands of years, helping leaders, researchers, creators and other citizens to achieve their missions.

In advocating, we focus on why this matters so much, underlining how, in different policy areas – healthcare, innovation, democracy itself – access to information helps deliver goals, and in turn, how libraries deliver this access in an equitable way.

However, in doing this, it’s worth keeping in mind the different issues that access encompasses, and the different struggles this can imply, if only to be clear for ourselves.

This blogs therefore looks at just ten different aspects of access, and how this can play out in work on library advocacy.

1) Access as the possibility to find a work in the library: libraries have a key role in ensuring that ability to pay does not become a determinant of whether people can enjoy their right to information. This applies as much to those who would not be able to buy textbooks or children’s books, as to those who may only need certain parts of a book, and are not ready to pay for the whole book just to access extracts.

This is why it is so important that libraries can acquire all types of material, without barriers. Unfortunately, refusals to sell to libraries (or only to do so under very restrictive terms) make this difficult, and arguably require further investigation.

2) Access as preservation: access is an ongoing priority, and one that is threatened by the loss of materials due to decay, destruction or other reasons. It is particularly important – for researchers, for citizens – to know that todays information will be available into the future, in order to make it possible to support re-evaluation and accountability.

For example, government records need to be saved to allow for future study into decisions taken, while science itself is based heavily on the idea that research results should be reproducible – i.e. future researchers can access the same materials and reproduce the results of experiments.

3) Access as (reliable) connectivity: with so much information available online, including many materials that may previously have been produced in physical formats, internet access has become almost unavoidable as a form of wider access to information.

IFLA focuses strongly on this, underlining the need for libraries and users to benefit from high quality connections that are reliable – it is unlikely that people and businesses will be ready to invest in internet-enabled activities and approaches if they cannot be sure that it will stay on.

4) Access as a lack of barriers: access is not just about whether the library itself can add – and maintain – works in their collections, or whether they can connect meaningfully to the internet. Access is about whether library users can take advantage of this possibility. To do this, we need to work towards the absence of practical barriers to use, such as those felt by people who live far from a library, or who face challenges linked to physical mobility or other disabilities.

A number of tools can help in this regard – the internet is an important one of course – as can the sort of reforms promoted by the Marrakesh Treaty, that helps ensure that copyright does not pose an unreasonable barrier to creating and sharing accessible format works. With over 100 countries now signed up to the Treaty, we can aim for universal coverage in the coming years.

5) Access as literacies: access is also, crucially, about the skills of the person receiving information to understand and make sense of it. The skills involved can go from basic literacy to much more advanced forms, including critical thinking. Especially for those trying to work through the wealth of information online, being able to find the right knowledge is vital.

Basic literacy has long been an area of library expertise and experience, with increasing efforts to take information literacy training out of academic libraries and into public ones, to the benefit of the whole population. A priority here is to ensure that such support continues to be available to all, throughout life .

6) Access as use: access can imply a relatively narrow way of using information – for example being able to take, open and read a book. However, while for some library users this may be enough – simply taking pleasure or interest from the words on the page – for others it is not. They need to be able to quote, analyse or otherwise use works. For them, access without the possibility to use is pointless.

This is a core point around much work on copyright, with libraries arguing that once they have legally acquired a work, a core set of uses should be possible without restrictions or additional payment needed. These uses should be seen as part of the original price paid. Clearly this would not count uses that could cause unreasonable harm to rightholders, but trying to licence every single type of use is a recipe for market failure.

7) Access as the counterpart of expression: as set out in the previous point, a key ingredient of access is the possibility to use the information found in future work. As well as copyright issues, this can also implicate wider ones about freedom of speech. This is because the possibility to access and use information is less powerful if there are then limits on what can be done with it due to censorship or other controls.

It goes without saying, as well, that the fact that there is a variety of information to access in the first place depends heavily on the possibility for creators to express themselves and produce works in the first place. This is why libraries are encouraged to do what they can to champion intellectual freedom.

8) Access as relevant content: closely linked to the first point is the importance that people can find information that is relevant to them. This can be a question of finding books and other materials in the right language, and that tackle the issues that matter for the reader.

Clearly, the internet has created exciting possibilities for people without access to publishing houses, distribution networks or radio stations to share their ideas. However, it can also encourage a narrowing of horizons onto a single global set of materials. A key challenge then for libraries is to understand what materials users need, and to identify and provide access to this, including by promoting further creativity,

9) Access as feeling welcome: closely linked to the previous point, as well as those on skills and disability, the possibility to engage meaningfully with information can depend in large part on the possibility to relax and focus. This raises the question of how to ensure that people feel welcome and comfortable in libraries – and other places where information is accessed.

This can make a big difference for people who may feel otherwise excluded, For example, those with low literacy may feel intimidated by libraries, or those looking for information about very personal issues may feel awkward otherwise. It is therefore important, as part of all policies focused on access, to help people feel at ease, and avoid steps that could discourage information seekers.

10) Access as privacy: while linked to the previous point about feeling comfortable, the value of privacy in information access cannot be underestimated. Feeling that you have someone looking over your shoulder (literally or virtually, thanks to cookies or other digital tools) can have a chilling effect, limiting what a user is ready to look for.

This is why protecting privacy in the library environment, and doing what is possible to help users of third-party services to keep themselves safe, is such an important part of ensuring that access is meaningful for all.


We hope that these ideas are useful for you in thinking about the ways in which we talk about access, and welcome further ideas in the comments below!


Treating Knowledge as a Utility: One Suggestion for Rethinking Human Development

There are things that are seen as so essential for human development that, in many countries, they are not treated as normal markets.

Electricity, water, transportation – all are fundamental to ensuring a basic standard of living. As such, governments intervene to ensure that, where private companies are involved, they do not act in a way that leads to populations being cut off, or disadvantaged.

This is because even when providing (full) service to someone is not profitable for the company, there is a recognised wider interest in doing so. This can be both on the grounds of equity (these are basic rights that all should enjoy), and on the basis that this would be an investment (without these services, people have fewer chances of improving their situation). In these situations, we can talk about these services being ‘utilities’.

Much of the debate around net neutrality, in particular in the United States, has focused on this point – of whether the internet should be treated as a ‘utility’, or whether internet service providers should be allowed to influence what people receive on their computers and how. Similarly, there has been debate about the strength of obligations on telecommunications companies to serve people in rural areas, or those who are less wealthy.

Those who argue for the internet as a ‘utility’ underline both that steps should be taken to guarantee good quality internet for all, and that this should not be subject to activities like ‘paid prioritisation’. See IFLA’s own net neutrality statement for more.

With it more and more common for internet access to be described as a human right (including, most recently, by the President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen), there is hope that we are moving towards a world where governments take the necessary regulatory and financial steps to bring everyone online.

However, the internet is not just about cables and masts, it is also about content. As a post last week suggested, thinking holistically about what makes for a complete connectivity infrastructure means that we need to think more broadly.

Can we then think about knowledge and information in the same way as we think about electricity, water, or bus services, as a utility? Especially today, on International Science Day, which this year is focused on Rethinking Human Development, this seems relevant, given the importance of knowledge information for development at all levels.

This blog sets out three characteristics that could support such a way of thinking about information.


Clearly, knowledge and information – and access to it – are a recognised human right, as set out in Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and backed up in Article 27: Everyone has the right freely to participate in the cultural life of the community, to enjoy the arts and to share in scientific advancement and its benefits.

This right has been echoed in the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals, whose target 16.10 underlines the importance of access to information as a key cross-cutting driver of development. Crucially, other SDG targets do the same, focusing on areas such as health, agriculture, and research.


Secondly, it seems fair to say that while there definitely is a role for private companies here, the market alone will not meet all the potential demand. Drawing on copyright protections, companies will naturally (and entirely justifiably) seek to maximise returns, and indeed when they have shareholders, be legally obliged to do so.

While to some extent, higher sales mean higher revenues, it is also the case that it will often be more profitable to sell few units with a higher mark-up than lots of units with almost none, even if this leaves some excluded.

This applies as much for basic access, as for secondary markets such as licensing for education, or research purposes. Similarly, companies cannot be expected to bear in mind all of the wider benefits of activities such as preservation.

While it certainly may be possible to create a market here, this is likely to be highly dysfunctional, leaving many excluded and harming the overall public interest. In short, intervention is required to ensure that copyright does not lead to exclusion.


Thirdly, we also have a precedent of creating means for people who wouldn’t otherwise have access to knowledge and information to do so – namely libraries. Our institutions do not just provide this access, but also carry out those activities that are not appropriate for market solutions.

Libraries can, in effect, be seen as a form of universal service supported by governments at different levels, in order to ensure that something as vital as information does not become a minority good, but can rather help all to flourish.

Of course, in a digital world, there is a need to ensure that this role can continue to be fulfilled.

To some extent, it is done so by the drive towards open access and open science. These help ensure that it is not only those attached to major institutions who can benefit from the fruits of research, but everyone with internet access.

However, outside of the scholarly journal sector, the dominant business model remains is to charge for access. In this case, we need institutions like libraries to be able to buy and give access to works, without facing restrictions which would in effect leave library users less informed than others.


As we think about how we measure human development, and in particular, how we measure the degree to which everyone has access to the services and possibilities they need – and deserve – in order to thrive, knowledge and information should be at the heart of our concerns.

In particular, with International Science Day this year coinciding with the Internet Governance Forum, there is an opportunity to try and apply emerging thinking about how we provide connectivity to the broader question of how we provide access to information.

Seeing knowledge and information as a utility – and being ready to act accordingly to ensure that everyone has access – offers one potential way forwards.

Five Library Values that Should Matter in a Post-Pandemic World

Even as the world continues to fight the COVID-19 Pandemic, there is already talk – in particular at the United Nations High-Level Political Forum – of how we can ‘build back better’.

This term – previously mainly used in the context of recovery from disasters – provides a reminder that shocks of different sorts do provide an opportunity to reassess and revise the way we do things.

Of course, this is not to take attention away from the vital immediate responses to the crisis, and in particular the work done by health and other essential workers to keep societies moving. Librarians have also played their part, working to ensure that communities continue to benefit as far as possible from connectivity, access to resources, and advice.

What it should mean, however, is that when we take decisions about the recovery from COVID-19, we do not feel compelled simply to re-create what happened before. Those who take decisions should feel freer to change things, making for a stronger, fairer and more sustainable society.

In this, the experience of the Pandemic already suggests that five key values of libraries could and should play a bigger role:

Information matters: following years of growing concerns about the spread and influence of misinformation online, and the readiness of politicians to dismiss expert perspectives, the pandemic has seen governments in many countries give a much higher recognition of, and profile to, scientists and researchers.

This is a welcome step – the importance of the access to information that libraries provide is only as great as the importance of the information itself, in the eyes of a decision maker.

Now is a good time to ensure a focus on creating strong and sustainable information infrastructures, not least in the shape of libraries, in order to ensure the preservation, organisation and availability of information into the future.

Connectivity matters: libraries’ mission to provide access to information has meant that they were early adopters, and even innovators, in the development of the internet. Almost 2/3 of public libraries in countries for which we have data offer internet access to users, giving opportunities to get online, use computers, and receive training and support.

The pandemic has made clear the costs of being on the wrong side of the digital divide, with almost half of the world population not able to use digital tools to continue their work, education or social interaction.

Faced, in particular, with many students who will have risked dropping further behind their richer peers, there is a strong case for a serious investment in moving towards universal connectivity. Libraries and other public access solutions (including through libraries as nodes in networks) should be a key part of any action plan.

 Universality matters: the pandemic has had far reaching consequences for almost everyone. This is not to say that the impact has been the same for everyone. Clearly those in precarious jobs, with less favourable housing situations, or who otherwise face marginalisation or discrimination, have too often suffered far more than others.

Nonetheless, we may be at a moment where decision-makers – and citizens – are more favourable to universal services. In other words, having seen that there are phenomena that affect everyone for the worse, it is also appropriate to take actions that affect everyone for the better.

Public libraries are a great example of this, with a clear mission to provide universal service, in line with the IFLA-UNESCO Public Library Manifesto. Clearly libraries themselves always need to be aware of how their work may be more or less accessible or welcoming to different individuals and groups.

Culture matters: culture is all too often seen as being at the periphery of policy-making, a secondary concern compared to issues such as finance, security or foreign affairs. Yet the right to participate in cultural life is a fundamental right, as set out in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

The Pandemic has seen many turn to culture as a source of comfort in difficult times, as well as making clear the role of cultural concerns (the norms, values, and behaviours of individuals and groups) in the effectiveness of the response. Cultural institutions, not least libraries, have also been valuable sources of information and stories to inform responses and put things into context.

If we are now to build policies that are more responsive, better adapted, and so more effective, as well as promoting wellbeing as a goal, culture and cultural institutions need to be part of the picture.

Rights matter: a common theme in the four previous sections has been the idea that people have rights – to information, education, public services and culture. There are others to take into account – private life, free expression, and freedom from discrimination to name a few.

The pandemic has brought home to many the value of these rights, often of course when they are compromised. It has also forced greater awareness and reflection on the tension that can exist between rights – freedom of assembly and the right to health, freedom of speech and the right not to be subject to discrimination. The latter has been particularly clear in the wake of the death of George Floyd.

While this may risk being perhaps the most optimistic of the suggestions in this article, we can hope that when we build back after COVID-19, we can be in a world which recognises the value of careful decision-making about how best to enforce rights for everyone. These are the choices librarians themselves make in the services they provide.

Library Stat of the Week #2: From 2017 to 2018, the largest declines in political and civil freedoms were felt across high and upper-middle income countries

Library Stat of the Week. Freom 2017 to 2018, the largest declines in political and civil freedoms were felt across high and upper-middle income countriesLibraries have a major role to play in delivering fundamental freedoms.

The possibility to access information is not only a human right in itself, but also an enabler of others.

Where people lack it, they will struggle to participate in democracy, to realise opportunities to improve their jobs and their health, and to enjoy the benefits of scientific progress.

Libraries help make this a reality, but in turn, also depend on the policies and practices adopted by governments. It is far harder for them to do their jobs when faced with censorship and other restrictions.

Given that these freedoms have so often been achieved at such cost, it is concerning when they are under attack.

The latest results on Freedom in the World, as reported in the Development and Access to Information Report 2019, underline, however, that this is the case.

Indeed, it is in richer countries – those classified as high or upper-middle income – where this has been worst.

It is a reminder that libraries everywhere need to be attentive to the state of the freedoms that they both promote and rely on.

School Libraries Deliver on the Rights of the Child

Today marks the 30th anniversary of the signature of the Convention on the Rights of the Child.

While this was not the first international agreement to focus on the specific needs of children, it is the most high-profile, and has put the idea of children’s rights firmly on the political agenda in many countries.

It makes it clear that children are in a specific situation, and have specific needs. It includes a much fuller section on education for example, than the Universal Declaration on Human Rights.

It also underlines how other freedoms, such as freedom of access to information, with a view to helping children today become active and empowered adults in future.

This specific situation, arguably, merits a specific type of support. This is what school libraries provide. Indeed, the 30th anniversary year of the Convention is also the 20th anniversary year of IFLA’s School Library Manifesto.

This focuses on how school libraries ‘provide information and ideas that are fundamental to functioning successfully in today’s information and knowledge-based society’, and ‘equip students with life-long learning skills and develops the imagination, enabling them to live as responsible citizens.

In doing so, it provides a useful overview of how school libraries deliver on the rights of the child. This blog looks at the key links between these two documents. With it, we hope, school library advocates will be able to use references to the Convention to strengthen their arguments!


The Right of Access to Information: Article 13 of the Convention stresses that the rights included in Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights – the right to freedom of expression, including freedom to seek, receive and impart information and ideas of all kinds – also apply to children.

The School Library Manifesto has a similar focus on free access, underlining that ‘access to services and collections should be based on the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights and Freedoms, and should not be subject to any form of ideological, political or religious censorship, or to commercial pressures’.


The Right to Relevant Content: Article 17 includes provisions on the right of children to access relevant content, especially that ‘aimed at the promotion of his or her social, spiritual and moral well-being and physical and mental health’.

It sets out an obligation on signatories to encourage the production and dissemination of books and materials focused on children, as well as international cooperation to accelerate this.

School libraries clearly here play a major complementary role in ensuring that this production actually ends up in front of children, especially given that there are relatively few parents who can afford to buy all of the books that children need to read to develop a high level of literacy.

The School Library manifesto is clear about this role, noting that ‘library staff support the use of books and other information sources, ranging from the fictional to the documentary, from print to electronic, both on-site and remote’.

Indeed, they do more than just provide access. As the Manifesto sets out, they help children access materials in a way that ‘complement[s] and enrich[es] textbooks, teaching materials and methodologies’.


The Right to Education: Articles 28 and 29 of the Convention set out the right to education, on the basis of equal opportunity. It covers the right to primary, secondary and tertiary education, as well as vocational information and guidance. It also underlines the importance of international cooperation to facilitate access to scientific and technical knowledge, as well as universal literacy.

The Convention makes it clear that education should promote ‘the development of the child’s personality, talents and mental and physical abilities to their fullest potential, and of ‘respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms’.


Again, this intersects strongly with the roles of school libraries as set out in the Manifesto, including:

  • working with students, teachers, administrators and parents to achieve the mission of the school’;
  • supporting and enhancing educational goals as outlined in the school’s mission and curriculum’; and
  • proclaiming the concept that intellectual freedom and access to information are essential to effective and responsible citizenship and participation in a democracy’.


The Right to Culture: Finally, Article 31 stresses that children have a right to rest and leisure, and to ‘participate freely in cultural life and the arts’. Signatories should ‘encourage the provision of appropriate and equal opportunities for cultural, artistic, recreational and leisure activity’.

School libraries provide an excellent means of achieving this, as key venues for accessing and engaging with culture, and developing creativity. As the Manifesto sets out, school libraries ‘provide access to local, regional, national and global resources and opportunities that expose learners to diverse ideas, experiences and opinions’, and ‘offering opportunities for experiences in creating and using information for knowledge, understanding, imagination and enjoyment’.


Clearly these are primarily legal texts, and only have an effect when they are followed up with laws and resources at the national and local levels.

What is clear, however, is that when school libraries are able to operate along the lines envisaged in the School Library Manifesto, they can make a real contribution to realising the goals of the Convention on the Rights of the Child.