The role of libraries in modern society
The information society development demands to re-define the position and objectives of all the institutions which work with information, knowledge, and culture. Of these, media and education have been discussed in the European Union actively. Libraries have been a marginal theme. The situation is changing. Libraries have been identified as one of the key elements for open access to information, which is crucial to democratic information society development. In October 1998 the European Parliament adopted an own-initiative report "The Role of Libraries in Modern Societies", the first library policy paper in the EU. It defines the need for the most important pan-European actions on library field. First, the general development of the information society is pushing to re-evaluation of all the institutions which work with information, data, and knowledge - indirectly also with culture. In this connection the roles of education and media have been discussed already quite largely also in the European Union. But libraries - as well as other memory institutions like archives and museums - have not been considered. Still, there is a clear need in the information society to maintain an institution which is concentrating in collecting and organizing information and offering general access to it. Until now, this work has been underestimated, but I argue the situation will change! Libraries are especially important now when the whole idea of education is stressing more and more independent learning and acting. All citizens must be able to find and use information. It is the key raw material - but it is a zero resource, if there are no access points to it and if documents are in chaotic order. Here we can see libraries enter the stage: The unique function of libraries is to acquire, organize, offer for use and preserve publicly... [continues]
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