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Striving towards an equitable, democratic and sustainable society

The European Bureau of Library, Information and Documentation Associations is an independent umbrella association of library, information, documentation and archive associations and institutions in Europe.

SDG16 - oriented projects and Best Practices

Especially in Northern Europe, libraries are considered by definition “meeting places” (in Norway it is officially inscribed in the law); they are usual venues for civic engagement and political debate. In general, libraries strive for an active and well-informed citizenry: “to engage libraries in taking care of people and their rights by encouraging democratic participation of citizens in society” is for instance a central mission of the EBLIDA strategy.

It is no surprise that SDG 16.10 Ensure public access to information and protect fundamental freedoms, in accordance with national legislation and international agreements enjoys high popularity in European libraries. Fighting against discrimination also includes migration policies and literacy programmes for immigrants. A so-called Human Library concerning forced migration is organised within “the Madrid city library and 2030 Agenda”, in collaboration with public and NGO bodies dealing with migration. Public debate around environmental sustainability is organised in the Bibliotecas Municipales de La Coruña and the Biblioteca de la Universidad de las Palmas de Gran Canaria. The library network of Barcelona identified 16.6, 16.7 and 16.10 as its main drives for strategic development (the others being Targets 4.4, 4.5, 5.5, 8.3 and 8.9). See: Barcelona region libraries and 2030 Agenda.

Another important direction of 16.10 is unveiling fake news in the public debate. Populist and undemocratic parties, often encouraged by external states, use online disinformation to manipulate public opinion and amplify their agenda. Freedom of expression is hampered by hidden persuaders, who deliberately spread falsehoods to influence political events, put into discredit social groupings and cause harm to individuals. During the Covid-19 crisis, fake news amplified individual fears and put human beings in disarray. EBLIDA allied with NewsGuard – a company born to combat disinformation and misinformation – which evaluates websites in the United States and in the following European countries: France, Germany, Italy and the United Kingdom. NewsGuard’s peculiar feature is that it works on website evaluation and examines the context of news, rather than its text. In line with the library concept of access to information, NewsGuard does not apply filtering systems intended to eliminate information, nor uses lexical or combinatory systems forcibly based on more or less biased algorithms.

 


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