Mind the (Information) Gap: IFLA Makes the Case for Action by Governments

Just days before the official launch of the Development and Access to Information (DA2I) 2017 Report, participants at the United Nations High Level Political Forum (HLPF) had a first glimpse at its findings on Tuesday 11 July.

IFLA President, Donna Scheeder with Nancy Hafkin (left) and Quinn McKew (right) during the DA2I Side Event at the HLPF

IFLA President, Donna Scheeder, alongside Maria Garrido (Technology and Social Change Group), Nancy Hafkin (Women in Global Science and Technology) and Quinn McKew (Deputy Executive Director, Article 19), set out the report’s key arguments: that access to information is a pre-condition for development across the board, and that for this access to be meaningful, it requires investment and support. Libraries have a unique role in providing this support, especially for those who need it most.

With the drive to eradicate poverty a key theme of this year’s HLPF, Donna Scheeder underlined the risk of information poverty. For individuals faced with low education and skills, poor health and employment performance, and politics driven by misinformation and ignorance, the outlook would be bleak.

There was a positive scenario though, with empowered and critical citizens able to improve their own, and their communities’ lives through better health, good jobs, innovation, creativity and civic engagement. Libraries would be at the heart of this work.  

Maria Garrido set out the indicators chosen for the DA2I report, focusing on different dimensions of access –technical, skills-based, cultural and legal. Nancy Hafkin, drawing on long experience of working to give women the same rights and opportunities as men, underlined the risk that without action, inequalities in the physical world would just be replicated in the digital.

IFLA President, Donna Scheeder, holding the DA2I report with (from left to right): IFLA Manager of Policy and Advocacy, Stephen Wyber, IFLA Governing Board Member, Loida Garcia Febo, Quinn McKew, Article 19 Deputy Executive Director, and Nancy Hafkin, Women in Global Science and Technology

In closing, Quinn McKew congratulated IFLA and TASCHA on the quality of the report, and called for further efforts from all to ensure that access to information was given the highest priority possible.