Tag Archives: media and information literacy

UNESCO Global MIL Week 2023 poster

Global MIL Week 2023: Meaningful cooperation is essential for success in digital spaces

The internet did not invent the spread of mis- and disinformation, but it has undoubtedly exploded the reach – and therefore, the impact – of harmful content. Every person with an internet connection can both fall victim to misinformation, and contribute to its creation and distribution.

It’s not all dire though! In the same way that misinformation can spread, so can opportunities for education and awareness-raising. Information can reach more people than ever before – but the type of information, and people’s skills to assess, understand, and ethically use it, will continue to have enormous consequences on peace, good governance, and social cohesion.

An Internet for Trust

UNESCO has been embarking on a process to develop global guidelines for the regulation of digital platforms. In this, UNESCO stresses that the development and implementation of digital platform regulatory processes must safeguard freedom of expression, access to information, and other human rights. IFLA has been contributing throughout this process – read our comments on the most recent draft here.

We stress that an internet for trust cannot be delivered in isolation, with action by platforms and through regulation legislation alone. Libraries contribute to building a healthier information ecosystem on a whole – an essential aspect of achieving the Guidelines’ goals.

A Healthy Information Ecosystem

UNESCO has linked Global Media and Information Week 2023 to their internet for trust initiative with this year’s theme: “Media and Information Literacy in Digital Spaces: A Collective Global Agenda”.

We were very happy to see the importance of media and information literacy (MIL) emphasised in preliminary drafts of the platform regulation guidelines.  However, IFLA has called for stronger references to the role of libraries at all stages of planning and delivering MIL programming, and better coordination of platform-based efforts with those led by schools and libraries.

The idea of a collective global agenda is very much in line with IFLA’s point of view. It will take a lot of cooperation, and coordination of efforts, to build a healthy information ecosystem – but what does this mean in practice?

It means working at the grassroots level; it means policy supporting public sector actors in their work, it means MIL education that spans formal, informal, and non-formal spaces, and supports the development of global citizens enabled to act ethically in all aspects of their lives, with the specific skills needed to produce, access, and use information.

Progress will not be driven by platforms and policymakers alone, but by collaboration with a wider community of information holders, producers, and users.

Suggestions for Implementation

The fact that there is an international effort to guide the development of internet regulation is important, as inconsistencies in legislation from country to country could likely lead to further internet fragmentation.

This sort of coordinated effort on platform regulation could also result in coordination on MIL, given the strong emphasis on MIL in these Guidelines.

For Global MIL Week 2023, UNESCO asked IFLA, among other stakeholders, how the Guidelines for Regulating Digital Platforms could be made operational, and how we could ensure multistakeholder participation through this process.

From the perspective of the library and information profession, here are some thoughts for putting meaningful cooperation into practice:

  1. National and subnational policymakers should recognise the impact of public sector entities, such as libraries in communities, schools, and universities, for operationalising the guidelines through their role in building healthier information ecosystems.
  2. Libraries should be included in national policy efforts on MIL, supported by effective taxation that ensures resources are available for libraries to do their work.
  3. Teachers, trainers, and librarians should be provided with possibilities to access the skills, tools and resources they need to be effective, innovative, future-fit advocates and facilitators of media literacy.
  4. The youth should have an active role in contributing to change, but MIL education schemes should critically take a lifelong learning approach and include non-formal and informal education spaces.
  5. All stakeholders should recognise the importance of considering local language and local cultural context in efforts to vet content on platforms and ensure content is relevant and beneficial to users.
  6. Perceptions differ around where the greatest threat to freedom of expression and access to information lie. Information professionals could be included in digital platform regulatory processes for the expertise and values they can bring to wider discussions about equitable access to information and freedom of expression.
  7. Regulation applied to major commercial platforms, such as Facebook or YouTube, should not apply to the non-profit repositories run or used by any libraries, and which are essential for open access, science and education.
  8. Monitoring, evaluation, and reporting schemes at both the national and international levels should be designed with possibilities to include the contribution of civil society actors and public sector entities.

IFLA looks forward to seeing the final version of these Guidelines, hopefully with our previous input taken into consideration, and taking an active role in elaborating an implementation plan.

How do you see your role in contributing to an internet for trust through MIL? Let us know your thoughts!

Find out more about Global MIL Week and how to get involved here.


The 10-Minute International Librarian #69: Be able to explain why information literacy matters

 To make the most of information, people need to have the skills to be confident, competent users.

Libraries have long known this, supporting students and researchers in navigating through available resources, in particular in order to improve research.

As information has become more and more abundant, the need to make choices about what to trust, and how to do this, has become an issue in almost all aspects of society.

The most high-profile examples are of course around deliberate misinformation (or ‘fake news’), in particular on social media.

But in many elements of life, the availability of reliable information does not necessarily mean that the people who need it are able to use it.

However, with policy often made by people who are already confident users of information – digital and otherwise – the importance of helping people develop information literacy is often overlooked.

Global Media and Information Literacy (MIL) Week, which falls this week, is an opportunity to correct this, and secure the support needed to provide meaningful information literacy skills to all.

So for our 69th 10-Minute International Librarian exercise, be able to explain why information literacy matters.

Take a look of course in particular at what is taking place this week, in the context of Global MIL Week in particular.

But also think about examples of how information literacy has helped people achieve their goals through your library.

Alternatively, think about what the costs of a lack of information literacy are – what opportunities do people miss out on?

And then, think about how you can present this argument to a busy decision-maker, ensuring that they also understand the importance of information literacy for all!

Share your arguments and examples in the comments box below.

Good luck!


This idea relates to the IFLA Strategy! 1.1 Show the power of libraries as drivers of sustainable development.

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.

Libraries Transforming Education: Equity, Capability, Continuity

This year’s International Youth Day focuses on the need to transform education.

As the United Nations’ own website underlines, the combination of the crucial role of education in delivering other Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), as well as the future role of young people themselves, makes this a vital area of work.

Libraries have always had a key part to play in supporting education, from simply making available the materials needed by students to more active provision of teaching.

They can also be at the heart of the transformation that will be necessary to make education truly universal, effective and meaningful for all. This blog suggests three ways in which they can make a unique contribution.


Equity: a key challenge faced by many schools is the unevenness of basic literacy skills among new entrants. It is clear that those children who have had more opportunity to read – and listen to others read – before starting formal education are in a better position to succeed.

Libraries have a long experience of promoting reading for pleasure from a young age, and indeed in the Netherlands are seen as part of the overall government offer of support for young families. In this way, they allow for early intervention, which helps stop children starting school at a disadvantage.


Capability: in addition to supporting basic literacy, libraries are very well placed to help young people develop the critical thinking skills necessary to succeed in an information-rich world. Many support media and information literacy classes, for example, giving youth the tools they need to take their own decisions and engage in civic life.

In other cases, libraries provide a space for learning how to use new technologies which may not be available in schools (for example in Kibera, Kenya), or to learn to code (as in rural regions of Romania). There are further great examples in the most recent newsletter from IFLA’s Section on Library Services for Children and Young Adults.

Such skills can be essential if young people are to go into the world with the knowledge and abilities they need to be independent.


Continuity: crucially, the support that libraries offer does not stop when school does. A key strength of the library field is that services are available for all, throughout their lives. Evidence from the United States suggests that about half of all 18-35 year olds have visited a public library in the last year, a larger share than any other age group.

Especially where compulsory education does not extend far beyond primary school, libraries can be essential as places for young people to keep contact with learning opportunities. As underlined in Katarina Popovic’s contribution to this year’s Development and Access to Information report, these are chances which are indispensable if we are to achieve the SDGs.


With the right support, libraries ready, in turn, to support the transformation of education necessary to ensure that everyone has the knowledge and skills they need.


See also our blogs for World Youth Skills Day 2019 on the importance of information skills for youth, for World Teachers Day 2018 looking at how libraries support teachers, and for World Youth Day 2018, focusing on libraries providing safe spaces for youth.   


Dodging Deception: The Crossover between Open Access and Media and Information Literacy Weeks

Open Access and Information Literacy

It isn’t only Open Access that is being celebrated this week. Today also marks the first day of Global Media and Information Literacy (MIL) Week, organised by UNESCO.

The communities involved in the two events tend to differ. MIL Week brings together educators and journalists, with a strong focus on developing new tools and practices.

Open Access week is an opportunity for researchers and others involved in scholarly communications to reflect on the present and future of efforts to maximise access. Of course, libraries have a major role to play in both.

However, the specific issue of ‘deceptive journals’ brings these two fields together.


The Reputation of Open Access

Deceptive journals are academic publications which knowingly publish articles in exchange for payment by authors, without offering any meaningful editorial services (peer review, editing, quality control).

In effect, they use, or rather abuse, one particular model of open access – author-pays publication. They undoubtedly also benefit from the pressure on many academics to publish in order to pursue their careers.

Despite a tendency to believe, this is not just a developing country issue either, with recent research showing that academics in richer countries are also guilty of publishing in such journals.

The problem is that that link between deceptive journals and the author-pays model can become, in the heads of some, a feeling that open access journals in general are less credible. This, in turn, risks slowing the progression of Open Access in general, as highlighted in our blog “Effect of Open Access on Copyright Challenges and Library Budgets in Africa“.

Clearly open access faces a number of fundamental questions in its future, which the organisers of Open Access Week are tackling head on. Among these, ensuring future credibility is a key one.


Won’t Get Fooled Again?

So what can be done?

The highest profile approach so far has perhaps been Beall’s list, which claimed to identify deceptive (or predatory) journals. The controversy around this underlined the risks around creating ‘black lists’, but has certainly been crucial in awareness raising.

A healthier (and less legally risky) approach seems to be to enable students and researchers to identify high quality places to read or publish articles. Or, in other words, the core ‘information literacy’ traditionally provided by libraries.

This is attractive too – giving people the tools and skills to take their own decisions is, in the long-run, more efficient. It is also less paternalistic.

There are a number of great tools available. Think Check Submit offers a clear and balanced set of criteria, as do various ‘white’ lists (of journals which do respect quality criteria, without necessarily condemning others).

Clearly it’s also important to ensure that the advice given to students and researchers also respects information literacy, and does not fall into the trap of damning journals from developing countries, either explicitly, or by default.

There has been welcome cooperation between publishers, libraries and researchers already in this field. More needs to be done, however, to spread good ideas, around the world.


While the coincidence of Open Access and Global Media and Information Literacy Week in terms of dates is accidental, information literacy will play a vital role in tackling one of the barriers to the success of open access.

It is also a useful reminder that, alongside efforts to promote information literacy in situations outside of academia, that core element of work in academic libraries is as important as ever.