A2K: Access to Knowledge

Article excerpt

Libraries Driving Access to Knowledge

Edited by Jesus Lau, Anna Maria Tammaro, and Theo J.D. Bothma Berlin: Walter de Gruyter GmbH

De Gruyter Saur, 2012 ISBN: 978-3110253269 402 pages; $140, softcover

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Why do we need libraries? This is a question all librarians face, and I have seen many slogans that attempt to reflect our purpose. One such slogan that resonates is "libraries driving access to knowledge" (A2K), the tag-line of Ellen R. Tise's 2009-2011 term as president of IFLA (the International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions).

In the collection of articles in the new book, Libraries Driving Access to Knowledge, we learn about Tise's ideas as well as the viewpoints of other librarians from across the globe. As IFLA president-elect, Tise coordinated the efforts of a working group to develop this theme and to help information professionals get on board. This volume is one of the results of their work.

Tise, senior director of Library and Information Services at Stellenbosch University in South Africa, has held leadership positions in a number of libraries and library organizations during the past 25 years and has served on the OCLC Members Council.

In her introductory chapter titled "Libraries Driving Access to Knowledge (A2K)," she suggests that "at no other time in the history of information provision has there been such a dire need for libraries to drive access to knowledge and information." During her term as president of IFLA, she pursued several themes, including the importance of librarians becoming more user-oriented, doing more library promotion, creating active partnerships, and fostering the library as place. She also recognizes the role of libraries as creators and publishers of knowledge, not just as custodians. The remaining 13 articles in the volume expand on various aspects of the A2K program for the library as a place to promote new ways to share knowledge.

In their article about textbook collection titled "Native Language University Digital Textbook Collection," Martin Hallik and Liisi Lembinen (Tartu University Library in Estonia) describe their project to collect electronic Estonian-language textbooks and make them available online for student use. These textbooks are often issued only in small print runs and are usually hard to get in paper format. The library negotiated with publishers and faculty for access and used the ebrary electronic book platform so users could access the books. While there were some problems, especially regarding copyright and compensation for authors, the project is judged successful because of its popularity with students and faculty.

Loriene Roy and Kristen Hogan (University of Texas) and Spencer Lilley (Massey University Library in New Zealand) contribute a thoughtful piece about the balance between access to and respect for knowledge of indigenous peoples in "Balancing Access to Knowledge and Respect for Cultural Knowledge: Librarian Advocacy With Indigenous Peoples' Self-Determination in Access to Knowledge." They use examples from both Native American and Maori experiences, examining the role that libraries and museums have played in the preservation of indigenous culture. …