The University of Borås is one of the few Swedish higher education institutions and libraries to have signed the Lyon Declaration. The Declaration calls for free access to information and knowledge that is necessary for a democratic society and for sustainable development. In total, nearly 600 international organisations and higher education institutions have signed up.
“It is encouraging and important that access to free information has now become one of the UN’s development goals and that the Lyon Declaration, which we previously signed, has made a difference,” says Björn Brorström, Vice-Chancellor of the University of Borås.
The Lyon Declaration was adopted at last year’s World Library and Information Congress in Lyon, and it aimed to have free information access included in the UN’s new development goals, Agenda 2030, which replace the Millennium goals. In early August, the UN presented its 17 new goals, among them Goal no. 16:10: “Ensure public access to information and protect fundamental freedoms in accordance with national legislation and international agreements.” Several other goals also highlight the importance of literacy and access to information and communications technology for sustainable development in the world.
The goals will be adopted at a meeting of the Heads of State of the UN Member States, held 25–27 September.
“Access to information is fundamental to democracy and democratic development and for the favourable development of society. In our ongoing sustainability work at the university, it is important that we give attention to the new goals, following the decision of the Heads of State at the end of the month,” says Brorström.
The organisations and higher education institutions that signed the Lyon Declaration are affiliated to the International Federation of Library Associations (IFLA). During the meeting with the Heads of State, the IFLA will continue its efforts to draw attention to the role of libraries, both as providers of information and information technology and as a guarantee of free access to information for all, which will make achieving the goals possible. The IFLA urges its member countries and organisations to do the same at national level.
“At the Swedish School of Library and Information Science, we teach about and conduct research on these issues, and we will continue to do this; however in terms of international collaboration, in particular in countries where free information access is not a matter of course, we may need to be even clearer that this is something we intend to work towards. The discussion is important, but most important of all is our contribution to education and continuing professional development in these countries, as well as support for libraries to help them grow stronger,” says Ann-Sofie Axelsson, Dean of Faculty at the Swedish School of Library and Information Science.