Tag Archives: SDG10

Library Stat of the Week #47: Countries Implementing the Marrakesh Treaty Overwhelmingly Choose Not to Introduce or Maintain Restrictions on Access Possibilities

This week, the world celebrated the International Day of Persons with Disabilities. Held on 3 December this has been marked for almost 30 years, and provides an opportunity, as highlighted by the United Nations to ‘promote the rights and well-being of persons with disabilities in all spheres of society and development, and to increase awareness of the situation of persons with disabilities in every aspect of political, social, economic and cultural life’.

Crucial to achieving this is providing access to information. As the 2006 Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities states in its Article 21, governments should look to provide access to information at no extra cost.

The Marrakesh Treaty, agreed in 2013, makes achievement of this easier by removing unnecessary copyright-related barriers to the making and sharing of accessible format works for people with print disabilities. With over 100 countries now having ratified or acceded to the Treaty (or being members of the European Union, which has ratified as a bloc), there are exciting possibilities for libraries to provide more extensive services.

IFLA has been working to maintain the momentum towards not only ratification and accession, but also effective implementation of the Treaty on the ground. This is because for institutions such as libraries to be able to serve potential beneficiaries, they need the certainty that clear national laws can apply.

In this context, IFLA has called strongly on countries not to make use of the possibilities in the Treaty which can oblige libraries having already acquired copies of works to pay more for making accessible format copies, or to carry out a search of the markets before doing so. Both bring additional costs in terms of money and time which necessarily reduce resources available for service provision.

Therefore, in this week’s Library Stat of the Week, we take a look at some of the key statistics around Marrakesh implementation, based on IFLA’s Marrakesh Monitoring Report, which brings together known information from the 107 countries covered by the Treaty.

Graph 1: Have Countries Acted to Implement the Treaty in National Law?

Graph 1 looks at available data on whether countries which have officially ratified or acceded have taken action to implement the Treaty in national law. To our knowledge, over 42% have done so, with a further nearly 3% not needing to, given that international laws apply directly in national law.

However, this leaves a majority which have either yet to act, or where further information is needed. Where no action has been taken – including when there are already laws in place, but these do not cover all of the issues covered under the Treaty – there is a pressing need for reform.

Graph 2: Can Libraries Use Marrakesh Provisions Without Extra Payments?

Graph 2 looks at one of the possibilities in the Treaty to restrict the scope of the new powers, notably the option to oblige libraries and others to make additional payments for making and sharing accessible format works. IFLA has argued against using this, given that it has been the failure of rightholders to make works available in accessible formats that has caused a lack of access for people with print disabilities.

This finds that, fortunately of those countries which have legal provisions in place, over 90% have not made use of the possibility to oblige such payments. This provides a powerful example for those who are still to act.

Graph 3: Can Libraries Use Marrakesh Without Needing to Search the Market?

Graph 3 looks at the other possibility included under the Treaty to limit the application of its provisions by obliging libraries and others to limit their work under the Treaty to works which are not commercially available in accessible formats.

IFLA has argued that such provisions do more harm than good. If an accessible format copy is readily available on the market, libraries will seek to use this because it will be cheaper than making their own. However, obliging a check on commercial availability adds an extra bureaucratic step, and of course creates new liability – how can a library be sure, especially when sharing books across borders, or whether a book really is available or not, in the necessary format?

The graph shows that over three times as many countries which have clear provisions on the subject do not introduce restrictions here as do. Again, this provides a positive example.

It is worth noting, in both of the cases set out above, the Marrakesh Treaty makes clear that if countries wish to apply the restrictions, they need to notify WIPO. In reality, only three countries have done this (Australia, Canada and Japan). Nonetheless, Canada has not yet make use of this possibility. As such, those countries which have applied restrictions without notifying WIPO have arguably done so illegally.

Graph 4: Can People With Other Disabilities Benefit from Marrakesh Provisions?

Graph 4, finally, looks at the extent to which countries have extended the possibilities to support people with print disabilities created under the Marrakesh Treaty to people with other disabilities. Despite claims by some stakeholders, this is a clear possibility for Members States.

The data indicates that, where there is clear information, more countries have indeed used this possibility than have not. This is certainly a positive step, given that the Treaty as it stands does leave out groups such as those experiencing deafness.


Overall, while there is certainly room for frustration at the slow speed of implementation of the Marrakesh Treaty into national law, among those countries that have acted, the majority have done so without introducing restrictions, and using possibilities to benefit wider groups. In doing so, they have stayed faithful to the spirit of the Treaty, as well as of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, and the International Day of Persons with Disabilities in general.


Find out more about library data on on the Library Map of the World, where you can download key library data in order to carry out your own analysis! See our other Library Stats of the Week! The data supporting this analysis comes from IFLA’s Marrakesh Monitoring Report. See also IFLA’s Getting Started Guide, focused on implementing the Marrakesh Treaty.

Library Stat of the Week #39: Globally, 1st and 2nd generation immigrant students make more intensive use of libraries than their native peers

One of the most worrying aspects of the COVID-19 pandemic and its consequences has been the deepening of the educational divide.

As highlighted in the Gates Foundation’s Goalkeepers report, there is a significant risk that the closure of school buildings will increase inequalities. In effect, groups that previously faced risks of worse educational outcomes face an even higher risk now.

While it is difficult to gather statistics on what is happening already, we can at least look back at available data to understand what factors might contribute to combatting this inequality. This can provide a basis for planning for the recovery afterwards.

Fortunately, the dataset from the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development’s Programme for International Student Assessment (OECD PISA) 2009 offers insights here.

We have already been able, in previous posts, to note the connection between access to a library and enjoyment of reading, and library availability and literacy skills.

This post looks to understand the connections between library use and just one potential vector of inequality – immigrant status.

As part of its data collection, as well as measuring levels of literacy and asking questions about library use, PISA 2009 also asked if the 15-year olds involved were first or second generation immigrants, or ‘native’ (i.e. all others). This allows us then to look at how far immigrant children, and the children of immigrants, depend on libraries.

Graph 1a: Difference in Library Usage (1st Generation Immigrants minus Native)

Graph 1a looks at the situation for 1st generation immigrants, providing for each country a figure for the difference between immigrant and ‘native’ 15 year olds in terms of scores on the index of library use compiled by the OECD. This index is made up of figures related to how often students borrow books – for work or pleasure – or use the library in other ways, and runs from -1 to 1.

In the graph, a longer bar to the right indicates that 1st generation immigrant students use the library more intensively than natives. A bar to the left indicates that they use it less.

Overall, the conclusion is clear – in all but two countries, 15-year olds with a 1st generation immigrant background make much stronger use of libraries than native peers.

Graph 1b: Difference in Library Usage (1st Generation Immigrants minus Native)

Graph 1b replicates this analysis, but comparing 2nd generation immigrant students to ‘native’ students. While the effect is less strong, only 9 of the 43 countries for which data is available see 2nd generation immigrant students use libraries less than native students.

In both graphs, the United Kingdom and Norway share the top spots in terms of how much more immigrant students use libraries than natives.

These graphs also send a clear signal – libraries tend to be better used by students who can risk otherwise being left behind. It follows that any reduction in the possibility to use libraries is more likely to hurt students from immigrant backgrounds.


Graphs 1a and 1b allow us to look at individual countries. What about overall trends, for example when we compare these figures with how students perform in general on literacy, or how much native students use libraries?

Graph 2: Difference in Levels of Library Use (1st/2nd Generation Immigrants vs Native) Compared with Overall Reading Scores

Graph 2 looks at the first of these questions, comparing the difference in library usage between 1st/2nd generation immigrant students and native peers (horizontal axis) and average scores for literacy for the whole population (vertical axis). Each dot represents a country.

Overall, there appears to be a positive correlation, with higher gaps in levels of library usage between immigrants and natives leading to higher overall reading scores.

In reality though, it perhaps makes more sense to see the countries presenting as falling into two groups – one of higher performers (usually richer countries) in the top right, and a group of less developed ones in the cluster in the middle-left.

In each of these groups, there is in fact little correlation between differences in library use and overall reading scores.

The lesson from this is then that the value of libraries to immigrant students does not depend on how well a country is performing in general – libraries seem to matter in both cases.

Graph 3: Difference in Levels of Library Use (1st/2nd Generation Immigrants vs Native) Compared with Native Library Use

Graph 3 repeats this, but this time, the vertical axis looks at levels of library use among native students. Here, there is a more obvious correlation, with differences in library usage higher in situations where native students are using them less.

To some extent, this is logical – if natives use libraries less, and immigrants use them to the same extent, of course the gap will be higher.

In policy terms, however, the implication is that even where there is less use of libraries by native students, they continue to be important to immigrant students.


As highlighted last week, there appears to be a strong link in almost all countries surveyed between library use and scores in the literacy component of PISA.

This week’s statistics indicate that, in turn, 1st and 2nd generation immigrant students tend to be more intensive library users than their native peers. This connection tends to hold, regardless of the overall level of literacy in the population, and even when native students use libraries less.

While of course correlation cannot be taken for causality, the data here supports the argument that ensuring access to libraries will be an important part of any effort to close the education divide.


Find out more on the Library Map of the World, where you can download key library data in order to carry out your own analysis! See our other Library Stats of the Week! We are happy to share the data that supported this analysis on request.

Inclusion is an Action: the Relevance of the IFLA Multicultural Libraries Manifesto

After months where the need for immediate action to tackle the COVID-19 pandemic had been dominating news schedules, the ongoing events in the United States have sharply refocussed attention onto other, more long-term challenges societies face.

For many, especially those in groups subject to marginalisation or discrimination, the death of George Floyd is just the latest incident in a long series, and the protests that have followed are the natural result of years of unequal treatment. For others, it has forced a confrontation with issues that they were aware of, but perhaps felt hard-placed to act on, or even believed were someone else’s problem.

An emerging point is the understanding of the need for action – of the unacceptability of simply leaving things as they are. The fact of things having been done in a certain way in the past cannot provide a justification when the result of this is exclusion and inequality.

This applies to individuals and societies as a whole, including of course libraries. There needs to be a readiness to seek out, hear, reflect and include all experiences, rather than just proceed on the basis of a single point of view, however well-meaning.

This also applies globally – it is clearly not the case that the United States has a monopoly on discrimination and inequality. Indeed any situation where particular groups have faced persistent inequalities in so many areas of life – education, employment, housing, or treatment by courts – libraries can, and must, be ready to show the way in terms of how a key service can be provided.

Indeed, the specific role of libraries in providing access to information – a foundational condition for so much else – as well as in offering a place for the safeguarding and remembering of heritage, and for building social cohesion, makes them particularly important.

This is a key message of the IFLA-UNESCO Multicultural Libraries Manifesto, approved by the IFLA Governing Board in 2006, and by the UNESCO General Conference in 2009.

Building on the instruction to provide services to all, regardless of characteristics (including race) in the Public Library Manifesto, as well as IFLA’s Statement on Intellectual Freedom, and own Core Values, the Multicultural Library Manifesto goes further in underlining both the reality, and the value of diversity of all forms in our societies and cultures. In doing so, it rejects racism and other forms of discrimination, however they are manifested.

In terms of principles to be applied in the day-to-day work of libraries, the Manifesto stresses the need in particular providing information in appropriate languages and scripts, giving access to collections that reflect all communities and needs, and ensuring that staffing reflects the diversity of communities served with proper training to respond to the information need of all.

This clearly already requires work in many cases, with historical acquisitions policies and cataloguing practices often reflecting outdated views of the world, making it more difficult for marginalised groups to find themselves in the library.

Crucially, the Manifesto also sets out a proactive role for libraries. First of all, it makes it clear that it is not enough to offer the same services to all and expect everyone to benefit in the same ways – such an approach can risk deepening existing inequalities.

Instead, there needs to be a concerted effort to understand what may be needed (indeed, the Manifesto Toolkit offers steps for doing this), in particular through ensuring that library and information workers who are also members of groups subject to discrimination are fully part of decision-making.

It also gives libraries a mission – to promote awareness of the value of diversity in communities, and to provide tools and services that support this, online and offline (including through decisions about what to collect and preserve).

Furthermore, through skills provision – in particular information literacy and digital skills – libraries can also not only help give everyone the chance to make the most of the internet, but also help everyone identify prejudice in what they read, and combat it.

Finally, such efforts – the Manifesto underlines – need to be central to the work of libraries, integrated into core planning rather than included as an optional extra.


With societies around the world forced to confront the reality of inequality and discrimination in order to build something better, libraries have the rare power of being able to help societies level-up, providing opportunities for progress and spaces for building cohesion.

This is not to say that this will happen automatically. As highlighted in the title, inclusion is an action, and action takes effort and commitment. The Multicultural Library Manifesto offers a great starting point for this.


See how the American Library Association is responding here. Find out more about the work of our Section on Library Services for  Multicultural Populations, and read our blog for the International Day of Cultural Diversity.

Library Stat of the Week #18: Societies with more public librarians tend to have higher social mobility

In the last two Library Stat of the Week posts (#16 and #17), we’ve looked at the relationship between the numbers of public and community libraries and librarians per 100 000 people, and a key indicator of inequality, the Gini Coefficient.

Drawing on data from the Library Map of the World and the World Bank, it has been possible to show that there is an association between these. Both having more libraries, and more librarians tends to be linked to lower levels of inequality.

Indeed, as highlighted last week, even when controlling for the number of libraries in a country, having more librarians per library is also correlated with higher levels of equality.

A next step is to look at equality over time, or social mobility. The Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development does this by looking at the level of change – or ‘elasticity’ of wages between fathers and sons.

This makes it possible to show how far someone from a poor background has a chance of finding a well-paid job or other opportunity, or whether poverty is likely to continue across generations.

This is an important indicator, not least for social cohesion and wellbeing, given that people are likely to be more optimistic about the future when the chances of improving their lives, and those of their children, are higher.

As set out in the previous blogs, libraries – and in particular public and community libraries – have a core mission to promote equity. Indeed, at the heart of the Public Library Manifesto is the idea that everyone should have access to education in order to improve their situation.

As a result, arguably, public libraries are social mobility institutions, giving everyone the chance to build better lives.

To test the connection, we can therefore compare the data already used from the Library Map of the World for the numbers of public and community libraries and librarians (numbers per 100 000 people), and the OECD’s data on social mobility (primarily available for its members – developed countries, and measured from 0-1 with 1 being the highest level of mobility), as in the below graph., with each dot representing a country for which data is available.

Graph comparing the level of social mobility in countries with the numbers of public and community libraries and librarians

This tells two contrasting tales, with seemingly relatively little link between the number of libraries per 100 000 and social mobility, but a relatively strong one between the number of librarians and mobility.

Indeed, of the top four countries for social mobility, three are also the top-performers for numbers of librarians per 100 000 people (Denmark, Finland and Norway). The only high performer on social mobility with a low number of librarians was Canada, while Hungary and France stand out for having a relatively high number of librarians, but still have lower social mobility.

As ever, correlation does not mean causality. It is true that investment in librarians is likely to be a sign of a society that cares about giving everyone an opportunity to do better. Similarly, librarianship can also be the sort of profession that allows people to be socially mobile.

It does remain a powerful message, however, that socially mobile societies tend to be those with more public and community librarians. As governments look to build more inclusive, equitable societies post-COVID-19, this is a valuable point to make.


Find out more on the Library Map of the World, where you can download key library data in order to carry out your own analysis! See our other Library Stats of the Week! We are happy to share the data that supported this analysis on request.

What Makes Libraries Unique in Achieving… SDG10

DA2I means giving everyone the opportunity and skills to use knowledge to improve their livesSustainable Development Goal 4 is the third of the SDGs on the agenda at the 2019 High Level Political forum.

It focuses on reducing inequality within and among countries, recognising not only that individuals have a right to be treated equitably, but also that this contributes to sustainable development in general.

Libraries themselves have a strong commitment to equity. As institutions open for all, they welcome everyone, and many have a specific role to help those most at risk of marginalisation. This is important, given the importance of access to information for development .

But how to make the case for the unique role of libraries in reducing inequalities? Here are three ideas:

  • Because access to information, education and culture is a human right: all countries, through the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and subsequent conventions, have committed to giving everyone the possibility to access information, get an education, and take part in the cultural life of the community. Libraries provide an excellent way of doing this, and so allowing countries to comply with international law.
  • Because information poverty reinforces income poverty: when people lack access to information, they are not able to take the best decisions, or even to access programmes and projects which could help them escape poverty. They then risk falling deeper into trouble, while others succeed. Libraries provide a means of combatting information poverty, by ensuring that income, social status or other factors are not a barrier.
  • Because providing a service for all matters: programmes targeted at specific groups play an important role in combatting inequality. Nonetheless, by offering a service to some and not others, such efforts can reinforce the idea of being different or apart, which may discourage some. Public libraries have a mission to be universal – i.e. to serve everyone – meaning that the support they offer does not come with the risk of underlining difference.

For more see the chapter on SDG 10 in the 2019 Development and Access to Information (DA2I) Report by Professor Tim Unwin, UNESCO Chair on ICT for Development.