Tag Archives: Library advocacy

Every Association an Advocate: Interview with Jean-Marie Reding, Luxembourg

Library associations have a key role in advocacy for our sector, able to take advantage of their role as civil society organisations to speak freely about what our profession and institutions need to succeed. It is also not only in larger countries that they can develop a capacity to do this.

To find out about the experience of a small country association, we talked to Jean-Marie Reding, Chair since 2003 of the Policy Corps at the Association of Luxembourgish Librarians, Archivists and Documentary specialists (ALBAD):

Panoramic view of Luxembourg city's Grund, at dusk, in 2010.

Luxembourg City. Photo: Benh Lieu Song, CC-BY-SA 3.0: bit.ly/3ALX5AA

How did ALBAD’s Policy Corps come together?

In 2003, one year before national elections, I, as newly elected ALBAD President, wanted to see “Libraries on the agenda” (slogan of IFLA-President Claudia Lux, 2005) in the election programs of our main political parties. In a Lilliput-state as Luxembourg political parties have very few staff; we couldn’t send questionnaires to them hoping for answers. So we contacted the democratic parties with a list, worked out by the ALBAD board, setting out current problems and asked for a visit to talk about it. For the composition of the ALBAD Policy Corps I chose two Board members who were members of a political party, accompanied if possible by one librarian, active in the field, who could explain the difficulties encountered “out there”, with real passion, making politicians’ hearts melt.

What are the advantages of having a group of people focused on policy issues?

Your Policy Corps has to be ready, if you get any requests from political parties between elections when someone needs free “biblio consulting” – with a group, this becomes easier. Moreover, if the Corps members are long-term colleagues, a well-oiled team, there exists the possibility to play right wing librarian against left wing librarian, affecting politically sensible book selection processes in libraries for example, which can be especially funny in meetings with populist parties.

How is it composed – do you have different experiences and skill sets represented?

The best librarians for this lobbying job are the ones belonging to a political party. It even doesn’t matter if they are from a public or academic library! These committed people are simply very interested in politics, know the different ideologies and the politicians to meet from the media (press, TV, etc), or are even personally close to certain politicians. They are talking the same “language”! Having knowledge about library history and especially legislation is important too of course.

How do its members manage to be both public servants, and engaged in politics?

As our Policy Corps members are members of the Executive committee (EC) of a librarian association too, they are automatically and democratically elected to speak in the name of the association. But you can also organise special elections for the Policy Corps. The most important thing is to be elected by a majority of members, and so become official representatives! Civil servants also take advantage of the role of representatives of an association (as for a union) – this means that they can even contradict their own library directors’ opinions! They just need to avoid revealing any internal information of their employers (library).

What sort of activities do you carry out to train yourselves to work most effectively with politicians?

During Executive Committee (EC) meetings the general objectives are fixed on paper, ready to be sent to political parties in the name of the association. EC meetings are also the platform for passionate debates, establishing No-Go-principles, finding a common political basis. Details are often discussed during a social event afterwards. The Policy Corps members are well connected and exchanging important political information by e-mail, from IFLA, EBLIDA and neighbouring countries. The political training is fortunately taken over by the political parties to which some Policy Corps members belong. The escorting “field librarians” just need to talk about their daily job and refer to the well informed Policy Corps members, sitting/staying next to them. This also worked in lobbying meetings with MEPs in Brussels (1 field librarian & 1 Policy Corps Member).

How does working in a smaller country affect the way you work with political parties?

The possibilities we have are different in a tiny country. But like in the USA (ALA Policy Corps in Washington D.C.), every Policy Corps needs to be close to the capital city of your country. This is the case in the Grand-Duchy of Luxembourg indeed, as the 3 permanent members are/were working in the capital.

What have you learnt about how to convince politicians to engage with libraries?

Really almost all politicians are (print-)booklovers! And they normally have their own private library. The most frequent question during political party meetings in the beginning is: How can I protect my books best? You have to reply in 10 seconds: No light, 18 C° temperature, 50% humidity! Then, making them speechless for about 30 seconds, make the connection immediately with the advocacy agenda: do you have all printed books ever published at home? The politician will answer: No, that’s not possible! Your reply: That’s why libraries still exist for 2 000 years …

What results have you seen from this engagement?

The ALBAD Policy Corps worked so well that all political parties contacted since 2003, gave us the opportunity for a meeting face to face, in their offices in Luxembourg-City. Afterwards some even asked us for text proposals for their election programs. 2004 was the 1st year in history that libraries became a part of the elections programs of all big parties. During the government coalition-forming process election programs are compared each another and intersections are put into the government program. So libraries got on the agenda! This is a huge success that we have repeated every five years since 2003!

An important point: you should publish the results, all the library related content of election programs in a special national election newsletter/magazine, for information for your association members of course, but especially, fixed for history, for the next lobbying activities.

What recommendations would you have for other countries?

1. Just copy the idea!

2. Start your lobbying activities at least 1 year before election day!

And 3. Respect the KISS-formula in meetings: Keep it simple, stupid!

Getting Involved in Cultural Heritage Advocacy: European Days of Conservation-Restoration 2021

The European Confederation of Conservator-Restorers Organisations (E.C.C.O.) sets aside a week every year to celebrate Europe’s cultural heritage and the professionals who work to preserve and provide access to it.

It is inspiring to see the preservation and digitisation of books, papers, manuscripts, photographs, and other documentary heritage materials feature during this week. IFLA especially highlights those working to preserve materials that make up the memory of the world, as libraries and library professionals are essential keepers of this cultural heritage.  We explored this further in our blog post for European Day of Conservation-Restoration 2020, which you can read here.

For this year’s European Days of Conservation-Restoration, a social media campaign highlighted good practices and the professionals and institutions involved in this work. However, it also explored other themes, such as heritage at risk, sustainability, and the importance of reaching out and building networks.

This provides a great example for cultural heritage professionals around the world of an accessible way to get involved in advocacy.

Storytelling for Advocacy

Cultural heritage provides a gateway to the vast collective knowledge of humankind; it inspires connection and fuels creativity and innovation.

Cultural heritage professionals can help promote recognition of the potential of cultural heritage for bettering society through engaging in advocacy on how their work makes a positive impact.

The importance of incorporating advocacy and storytelling into cultural heritage conservation practice was among the topics presented by IFLA in a keynote address to the Institute of Conservation (ICON) Book and Paper Group Conference 2021 titled: Inspiring and Informing Development: Advocating for culture in sustainable development.

An important theme of this address was that no one person is too small to make a difference.

The IFLA speaker urged cultural heritage professionals to act boldly – individually and within networks – as advocates, telling stories that help illustrate the value that cultural heritage has for people now and into the future.

Examples – European Days of Conservation 2021

Using online platforms to proactively reach out and tell stories can be effective means by which to connect with community members, policymakers, and fellow professionals.

Participating in celebrations like the European Days of Conservation-Restoration is an excellent opportunity to join voices with others and increase one’s reach.

The E.C.C.O. called for its community of European conservation and restoration professionals to take part in a social media campaign – highlighting stories that invite viewers into their workspaces and highlight the important role they have in safeguarding cultural heritage.

There were several fascinating posts that feature documentary cultural heritage. These posts bring conservation and restoration practice to life, and help other understand the work that goes in to ensuring these materials remain accessible.

Some examples include the Association of Conservator-Restorers in Bulgaria highlighting several institutions that specialise in conservation of works on paper; information-sharing on how documents are preserved from the Samuel Guichenon Collection, Historical University Library of Medicine, Montpellier University; and the National Archives of Malta demonstrates a treatment for paper that has been damaged by iron gall ink.

For more, visit E.C.C.O. on social media: Facebook & Twitter.

Sustainability, Cooperation, and Networking

Beyond highlighting good practice, a goal of this year’s European Days of Conservation-Restoration was also to raise awareness of key aspects of cultural heritage’s role in society, including access and sustainability.

Participants were encouraged to explore this through themes on the preservation of tangible cultural heritage in the view of climate change and the importance of reaching out beyond the sector – involving politics, education, training and research as pillars for cooperation towards sustainability and development.

The social media campaign took this opportunity to raise awareness of several initiatives that are linking cultural heritage with broader development intiatives, such as EU-funded project CLIMATE FOR CULTURE, the Joint Programming Initiative on Cultural Heritage and Global Change, and the Climate Heritage Network.

For example, as part of its #ClimateHeritage Mobilisation @ Climate Fridays webinar series, Climate Heritage Network delivered a webinar on the theme: Building Reuse is Climate Action. A wider audience was invited to attend this programme, which offered a compelling environmental case for building reuse and its part in the goal for zero carbon emissions.

IFLA is a founding member of the Climate Heritage Network. Follow more on IFLA’s involvement with Climate Heritage Network in the coming weeks in the lead-up to COP26.

Everyone can be an advocate

Joining networks, reaching out beyond the sector, and highlighting connections between cultural heritage practice and social issues like sustainability are all ways to get involved in advocacy.

Participating in events such as the European Days of Conservation-Restoration by taking part in social media campaigns and joining virtual events is a low/no-cost action that individuals or institutions can do to begin increasing their involvement in advocacy.

To go back to the key message in IFLA’s recent keynote address on advocating for culture in sustainable development, no one is too small to make a difference.

Library professionals around the world are encouraged to seek out opportunities to highlight their work, and to get in touch with IFLA HQ for help showcasing their own stories.

Contact: claire.mcguire@ifla.org for more.

The 10-Minute International Librarian #62: Think how to convince someone (in a language they understand)

Being able to win people’s support is so often vital in being able to fulfil your mission in a library.

It can be about convincing colleagues to join you in a project, winning the endorsement of a manager inside or outside of the library, or getting changes to wider laws and policies.

This can unlock resources or new possibilities!

But convincing people can take some preparation, both in terms of your message, and how you convey it.

So for our 62nd 10-Minute International Librarian exercise, think how to convince someone (in a language they understand).

To do this, you need not only to be clear about what it is that you want, but also to reflect a little on how to present it effectively.

What sort of vocabulary would the person you need to convince respond to? Are there buzzwords you can use, or themes you can raise that will get them more interested?

Think also about what tone will work – formal or less formal?

Take a look at – or think about – how the person you are looking to convince communicates themselves, and what seems to work with them.

Let us know about your experiences in the comments box below!

Good luck!


This idea relates to the IFLA Strategy! Key Initiative 1.1: Show the power of libraries in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals.

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.

Cut, maintain or invest: three choices for library funders

While public libraries are often organised as a specific service within local or regional government, or at least linked to it, in reality they support delivery of priorities across the board.

There are countless stories of library staff receiving questions related to other policy areas, such as health or access to justice.  Similarly, many of the people coming to use library computers have been sent by other agencies – for example those working to provide employment support or benefits.

In responding to this demand – to the best of their ability – libraries provide an important complement to these other services, contributing to their effectiveness, in particular in reaching those most in need.

Yet, of course, the people working in libraries are information professionals, not health, legal or social care professionals. It can be daunting for library staff to face requests for information on questions which are hugely important for users, and over which they have little training.

This situation translates into three broad choices for those taking decisions for funding about public spending in general, and libraries in particular.

Option 1: Cut

The first option is to cut budgets. By reducing opening hours, cutting staff, and no longer investing in new equipment, library funders could claim to be saving money.

However, it is highly questionable that this will be the case. For a start, the communities for the benefit of which decision-makers are supposed to be acting lose a key public space and driver of the enjoyment of key rights. As set out in our interview with Christian Lauersen, these impacts can be as important as they are varied.

But, crucially, it no longer becomes feasible for other government offices and services to tell people to go to the library if they need help to get online, or to get support.

Employment agencies can no longer count on jobseekers being able to search for work online. Health services cannot rely on people being able to use telehealth, rather than needing to come to hospitals or general practitioners. Benefits agencies cannot expect that the people who they are supposed to serve will reach them. Individuals cannot access the information they need to understand – and so enforce – their rights.

This is a recipe for reducing the effectiveness of public services, and so their ability to promote growth and inclusion.

Option 2: Do nothing

The second option is to maintain budgets at similar levels to currently. This would allow libraries to continue to provide services as now, with library staff providing information within their means, and internet access within their resources.

Clearly, this can already have a positive impact, as testified to whenever a library professional is able to connect a user to the information they need.  However, there is arguably still unrealised potential when library staff do not have the support needed to maximise their effectiveness in helping users in different areas, and indeed face anxiety about whether they are even able to do so.

Moreover, as the consequences of the pandemic continue to be felt, the demand for the sort of public services highlighted in this piece seems likely to grow. With the shift to digital-only public services only likely to continue also, even sticking with the status quo could mean a less scope for libraries to deal with individual requests.

As such, doing nothing, while better than cuts, cannot be seen as particularly desirable.

Option 3: Invest

The final option then is to think about how additional support could help libraries achieve all that they should be able to, given their unique characteristics as a public, non-commercial space staffed by dedicated professionals.

For example, making resources available to support training or the hiring of professionals can be transformational in terms of helping libraries provide accurate and effective support to users.

Enhancing capacity to provide meaningful internet access – both through modern hardware and skilled staff support – can also make libraries far more powerful as an enabler of the success of any number of eGovernment and other digital services.

For example, the Australian Library and Information Association secured support to offer training to librarians in order to be able better to support users in engaging with a new digital health records service.

Also in Australia, and a little earlier, the Law and Justice Foundation of New South Wales recognised the value of upgrading libraries’ abilities to respond to legal questions, and so paid for the development of new training and materials.

Beyond projects supported by partners from other sectors, there are also of course projects driven by more dedicated library funders which can provide useful pilots to demonstrate what can be done also. Naturally, any such efforts do require libraries themselves to organise themselves in order to maximise their own impact.


Clearly, the coming years are likely to be times of difficult decisions around budgets. However, it will also be a period of intense need for effective public services in order to support recovery.

Faced with this need, there is a strong case for investing the relatively small amounts necessary to realise the potential of libraries to ensure that these services have the greatest impact and reach possible.

Mobilising the resources to sustain libraries: why the G7 tax agreement matters for our field

Last week, a big story in many media outlets was the agreement between finance ministers of G7 countries to act to counter tax avoidance by major multinational companies. When this issue comes to the G20 later this year, it will be a truly global concern.

This blog looks a little further at the issues, why fighting tax avoidance could be part of library advocacy work, and why there is a particularly strong argument for multinational digital companies to pay their share.

Mobilising resources to pay for development

Tax avoidance is not a new issue of course. For years, there have been concerns about the ability of firms to exploit loopholes and inconsistencies between corporation tax (i.e. taxes on profits, rather than taxes on sales or turnover) rules in different jurisdictions to limit how much they need to pay.

By (nominally) locating key assets such as intellectual property in low-tax countries, or using complicated systems of loans or holding companies, highly profitable companies can make much of their fiscal liabilities disappear.

A lot of the focus has been on the practices of major internet companies, but they are not alone. Any company operating in different jurisdictions may be able to benefit, with Starbucks, care home operators, and even publishers such as Pearson being accused of this.

While, to some extent, it may be a question of political choice how much a country wants to rely on tax-funded public services or rather leave things to the market, it is undeniable that such decisions, when they affect corporate taxation, do have effects on others.

As such, it is a key part of ‘resource mobilisation’, the term used in the context of the Sustainable Development Goals to describe efforts to ensure efficient and effective taxation systems. Getting an international agreement is particularly important, given that while governments are responsible for tackling corruption or other failures to ensure that domestic actors contribute to public services and investments, they can do little once profits are ‘moved’ abroad.

The 2008 crisis intensified focus on these issues, as governments faced the question of how to pay the cost of the financial crisis. Useful work was done around tax transparency and combatting tax havens. In the wake of the pandemic, this focus seems likely only to intensify, and perhaps explains the G7 announcements themselves.

A pre-condition for sustaining library budgets

It’s not hard to imagine why this matters for libraries, at least those which rely to a greater or lesser degree on central government funding. It also matters for the achievement of many of the goals that libraries seek to support, such as education, connectivity or research.

For example, in the education sector, the Global Partnership for Education places a strong emphasis on resource mobilisation as the one sustainable way to support education funding sustainably into the future. Education International has explicitly called for stronger efforts against tax avoidance.

Similarly, the World Health Organization, back in 2018, also highlighted the importance of action on tax to support the delivery of global health goals. Organisations working on broader development, such as Oxfam, have also been strong on the topic.

Clearly, campaigning for more effective taxation is a less direct means of ensuring that libraries have adequate resources than working directly to influence how spending is structured, although it would be an area where libraries would find allies.

Moreover, the availability of funds to spend on libraries depends on funds being there in the first place, which is a tax question. In short, it becomes easier to call for stable, or increased spending on libraries when overall budgets are healthier.

Digital dividends

The argument is particularly strong in the case of libraries and digital companies, given the strong role of libraries in helping people to get online in the first place.

In the case of internet service providers, including phone companies, there are sometimes even dedicated taxes which feed into universal service and access funds. These can be (but are not always) used to help libraries provide wider connectivity.

As such, they help deliver what is increasingly recognised as the human right to connectivity, while also, arguably, helping to create new customers in the future for these same firms.

Yet digital content companies arguably benefit even more directly from when more people are brought online, along with anyone involved in eCommerce. You cannot buy things online, use social media for whatever reason, host websites, use cloud services or whatever else without being connected.

This makes it all the more relevant to argue that they should be paying their part, as much out of enlightened self-interest as because of a wider duty to support public services.

A long way to go

The welcome for the G7 announcements from organisations campaigning for effective action on tax avoidance has been lukewarm. The minimum tax rate set out has been seen as lacking ambition, and of course the deal only covers a few countries, even if they are rich.

Nonetheless, it is arguably a step in a positive direction, even if the final destination is unclear. As such, there is still plenty to do, both when the question comes to the G20, and beyond.

Clearly libraries must make choices about how to allocate time and effort around advocacy. The nature of our institutions mean that we have arguments to make across a wide range of policy fields – many more than we can feasible engage in.

Nonetheless, calling for action on tax avoidance in order to support libraries and other public services – especially those supporting connectivity, and alongside partners – is certainly worth thinking about as part of our advocacy work.

Dreamers and Schemers: a simple recipe for library advocacy

Studies of human behaviour are often characterised by a distinction between idealism and realism, between emotion and logic, or between the heart and the head.

Some decisions and actions we see as being driven by instinct, optimism or by a broader sense of values, while others seem to come down to cold, hard rationality.

A Nobel Prize for Economics went to Daniel Kahneman for his work on the difference between choices made rapidly, based on feelings, and those made after deep consideration.

International relations also traditionally differentiates between realists (who argue that countries follow their own interests and use their power freely) and idealism (who argue that states promote their domestic values in their international activities).

How does this relate to library advocacy?

Previous blogs, notably in partnership with OCLC’s WebJunction, have explored the idea of how a range of individual strengths (described as personality types) can come together in order to make for effective advocacy.

At a simpler level, however, we can see library advocacy as requiring a combination of idealism and realism in order to achieve its goals. In other words – as set out in the title of this blog – we need both dreamers and schemers in order to succeed.

Why we need dreamers?

Idealism remains a powerful motivator of action. Fortunately, libraries tend to have this in abundance!

Our institutions are strongly based on values – the importance of equitable access to information, of service to all, of safeguarding heritage for the future, all without the motivation of profit or private gain.

Where these values – and the budgets needed to deliver on them – have been challenged, libraries have become stronger and stronger in defending them.

We have produced communications materials, brought together stories and examples of how libraries contribute to development and other community goals, and build networks of friends and supporters.

Work based on idealism helps to create a positive feeling around libraries, raising interest among decision-makers and voters alike. Even in less democratic systems, those in power often rely on the support of the people for legitimacy, and so will care about what they feel.

Done effectively, it also helps make the step from sympathy to active support among – something that is crucial if libraries are to benefit from the funding and laws they need.

Why we need schemers?

However, idealism does not always solve everything. The fact of acting in the public interest, or delivering on well acknowledged values, is not necessarily enough to bring about adequate funding or favourable reforms to libraries. Understandably, this can be disheartening.

However, we can respond by complementing idealism with a dose of realpolitik. We need to be both dreamers and schemers.

Sometimes, it’s a question of knowing where, when, how, and to whom to make your points most effectively.

For example, a campaign in favour of libraries in the months before a key decision is taken is clearly more useful than one just after.

The answer is to build up your understanding of how decisions are taken, and ideally your relationships with key people involved in the process. If you look, you may well find someone who feels warmly about libraries, and so who can help you. In turn, their advice and insights can help you increase the impact of your work.

There is also the reality that decisions to support additional funding, or favourable laws for libraries, are not always simple. There can be opposition, for example from those resistant to spending in general, other potential beneficiaries of money, or those who feel that better laws for libraries will disadvantage them.

This opposition can be based on values, or simply on concern about profit margins. It is important to think about the arguments that can be made against stronger support for libraires, and how you can counter these.

Of course, in doing so, it is usually best to avoid looking like you do not care about the views of others. Decision-makers often want to avoid ‘picking sides’ in order not to lose support. However, you can usually make progress by showing that supporting libraries brings benefits for all.


As highlighted earlier in this blog, libraries are often already strong when it comes to being ‘dreamers’. We know that our work is based on values, service, and the wider public interest, and are becoming better and better at articulating this.

A key area of development is therefore around how also to become ‘schemers’ – how to understand the processes that lead to decisions being taken about libraries, and how to influence them most effectively.

This is far from the world of pure private lobbying, centred on how to maximise profits for a particular sector (or its shareholders). Throughout libraries’ engagement in decision-making, our values can and should shine through – this is what sets us apart.


In short, we need both to be dreamers and schemers in order to make the best and most effective case for libraries into the future.

The costs of non-access (part 2): why it matters when uses of works are prevented or complicated

In a post last week, we looked at the importance of being able to explain why non-investment in libraries matters.

As highlighted, in difficult budgetary times, governments are faced with the challenge of how to make cuts while causing least pain.

Being able to explain the harm that reducing or freezing library spending can create is therefore an important part of advocacy.

But as set out in another blog, decisions about funding are often just one side of the same coin as decisions about what libraries can do with their funding, notably as regards copyright.

A generous budget with highly restrictive rules on how resources are used can lead to a library having the same impact as one with a much smaller budget, but one where there are much broader possibilities to use works.

So just as we need to be able to talk about the cost of not investing financially in libraries, we should also learn to set out the harm done when library users are not able to use works.

There is a particular need for such arguments when it comes to copyright, given that the argument will often be made that the sorts of exceptions and limitations that allow library users and libraries to carry out such activities come at the cost of sales, or at least licensing revenues.

Such arguments are even used in the case of books that are no longer on sale at all, on the premiss that they may at some time in the future come back into commerce.

Of course, the evidence of such library activities actually causing harm is limited. The European Commission’s impact assessment on the draft Directive on Copyright in the Digital Single Market made clear that allowing libraries to preserve works, or library users to carry out text and data mining would not cause any significant damage.

This does not mean that there is no cost to rightholders from such acts. It isn’t possible to prevent a reader from borrowing a book or copying a couple of pages just because she or he could also buy it – this would be to turn against the universalist mission of libraries.

Similarly, there will often be a collective management organisation ready to invent a licensing offer for a new type of use, and so claim that copyright exceptions cost revenue.

To convince decision-makers to legislate in favour of copyright exceptions and limitations, we therefore need to be show that the cost of denying or complicating access is higher. So what arguments can be used?

Lending: when libraries are not able to lend books, this effectively condemns those who are not able to buy them to exclusion from access to culture. It can also choke off a means for new authors to be discovered by readers. Preventing digital lending will tend to exclude readers who are not able to get to a library, for reasons of disability, health, distance, or – obviously enough – COVID-19 restrictions.

Research (TDM): allowing uses of works for text and data mining improves the quality of the results of mining activities, thereby advancing science. Preventing such uses will have the inverse effect. In particular in the case of machine learning, there is growing awareness that limiting the range of works that can be used for learning can lead to biases and problems.

Education: teachers and learners benefit from being able to use the best suited materials for the context and situation, in order to achieve the best results. When teachers are obliged to take time to find works they can use – or rely on a limited offer – then they are less able to do their jobs. Similarly, a lack of adequate exceptions can restrict the production of open educational resources.

Preservation: this is a core function of libraries, ensuring that the works of yesterday and today are available into the future, recognised in international law. Where it is made more difficult, fewer works can be preserved. Ironically, the imposition of restrictions on preservation copying, motivated by a desire to sustain revenues, can risk reducing the chances of the work itself surviving into the future.

Document Supply: while a traditional activity of libraries using physical works, not all copyright laws allow for digital document supply. This has an obvious impact on those whose research is facilitated by being able to access often unique books held far away. Without this, the scope of research is unnecessarily limited to the works that are available on site, defeating the object of research in the first place.

Access for People with Print Disabilities: the challenge tackled by the Marrakesh Treaty was the book famine – the tiny share of books worldwide which are available in accessible formats. A failure to allow exceptions left the choice (and responsibility) for making such copies available in the hands of rightholders, often themselves unable to make the switch. The failures caused by a lack of reform led to violation of the right of people with print disabilities to education, and to participation in scientific and cultural life.


As in our first blog on the costs of non-access, such arguments should be used relatively sparingly. It is important to be positive as well, focusing on how reforms could lead to better services to – and support for – communities. Yet being able to underline costs can be helpful in making it clear that there is a problem that needs to be addressed.

As part of your advocacy, you are therefore encouraged to gather stories of problems – of the costs of non-access.