THE COPENHAGEN DECLARATION
On 14 and 15
October 1999 senior politicians and policy makers from 31 European countries met to consider the vital role of public libraries within the emerging Information Societies. Those attending the meeting heard
about the key roles already played by many European public libraries in encouraging community identity, economic development, lifelong learning and cultural diversity.
At the end of the meeting those
present agreed the following declaration as a statement of intent for the future of public libraries across the continent of Europe.
In support of the
• UNESCO Public Library Manifesto
• IFLA Guidelines on Public Libraries
• Report on the Role of Libraries in the Modern
World of the Committee on Culture, Youth, Education and the Media
of the European Parliament
• European Commission's study – Public Libraries
and the Information Society
• Council of Europe Cultural Committee report:
Library Legislation and Policy in Europe
• IFLA statement on Freedom of Expression
We declare the following as a common basis for national and European policies regarding public libraries:
ROLES FOR THE PUBLIC LIBRARY
We support the following roles for public libraries, highlighted in the
DEMOCRACY AND CITIZENSHIP – Public libraries have a strategic opportunity to increase quality of life and democratic possibilities for citizens of the Information Societies by providing free and equal access to high-quality information.
ECONOMIC AND SOCIAL DEVELOPMENT – Public libraries support the growth of communities through the provision of information services designed to meet local needs. They are important tools for reducing disparity between the information rich and the information poor citizens of Europe.
LIFELONG LEARNING – Public libraries provide, through their widespread distribution across Europe, a cost-effective infrastructure for lifelong learning and easy access to the content of the virtual networks. They also support students at all levels of formal education.
CULTURAL AND LINGUISTIC DIVERSITY – Public libraries are cultural institutions in accordance with the cultural dimension of the EU-Treaty with a great responsibility for cultural heritage, literature and literacy.
ACTION BY THE EUROPEAN COMMISSION
We call on the European Commission to support the European Parliament initiative "The Role of Libraries in the Modern Society" by promoting practical actions to
implement the recommendations of the report. These actions should stress the key role of public libraries in the emerging Information Society and the need for a European level information policy.
ACTION BY NATIONAL
AND FEDERAL GOVERNMENTS
We call on all national and federal governments to take the following actions:
1) Prepare a national information policy for the development and
co-ordination of all relevant resources, in the public interest.
This policy framework will recognise the vital and unique role of public
libraries as access points for the majority of citizens and be supported
by suitable library legislation.
2) Create suitable networking infrastructure to support the development
of a national information policy in the Information Age. The network
infrastructure should draw together all information creating agencies,
especially the traditional memory institutions (libraries, museums and
archives), to encourage information sharing and the creation of joint
resources. The infrastructure should also encourage practical
co-operation between public libraries.
3) Implement a development programme for public libraries that ensure This programme should reflect
minimum standards of access to every citizen including appropriate
information and communication technologies and suitable levels of
investment to meet those standards.
the need for there to be control of developments at the level of the
local community through the relevant municipality or other organisation
4) Ensure that public libraries are equipped to provide maximum access
to the new information resources for all citizens regardless of
financial, physical or educational abilities and that those libraries have
adequate resoueces to sustain the services over time.
5) Lobby the European Parliament to place public libraries high on the
social agenda now and in the future.
6) Work to ensure that there is an equitable balance between the rights
of the creators of information and the rights of citizens' access to the
information that will help them to lead better lives.
ACTION BY PUBLIC LIBRARIES
Be prepared to re-assess roles and resources and re-design services
to respond to changing social needs.
Work towards long-term co-operation and partnership with other
memory institutions and those involved with community education.
3) Ensure that citizens are aware of and feel able to exploit fully all the
resources of the public library network by effective marketing of
services to all sectors of the community.