I discovered this morning that today is the “International Day for Universal Access to Information” (IDUAI). Who knew? Being the OITP Director for the Program for Public Access to information, you think someone would have given me a heads up. And because it’s the first IDUAI day, it wasn’t on my calendar like “Talk like a Pirate Day” (which is on my calendar). So I am unable to plan anything “big,” like issue a special edition of American Libraries.
UNESCO’s executive board proclaimed the day for many reasons. The right to information is an integral part of the right of freedom of expression, a theme in the United Nations’ Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The World Summit on the Information Society principle on “just, peaceful and inclusive societies” states that peace is not possible without access to information. The UN’s 2030 Development Agenda includes a goal to ensure and enhance access to information for people in under developed countries. Accessibility to communication technologies is a principle of the Internet Universality study on inclusive Knowledge Societies. Universal means universal: regardless of circumstance, all people – including those with disabilities – should have access to information.
ALA’s policy manual includes all of these sentiments, obviously because libraries always have been about access. Librarians are leaders in ensuring that all people have access to the Internet; that regardless of format, the public has the right to use information without violating the copyright law; that government information, including state government information should be freely accessible to all; that one’s privacy should be protected when seeking and reading; that libraries must be free and open to all people; that libraries led the movement on information literacy, including digital literacy before it was fashionable; and the list goes on.
So raise a glass or coffee cup in honor of a day that represents everything that libraries value and do. Here’s to the “International Day for Universal Access to Information,” which libraries have always valued, even without a proclamation. And by the way, next year’s National Librarian Day is April 17th.