Academic journal article Australasian Public Libraries and Information Services

Libraries for All?

Academic journal article Australasian Public Libraries and Information Services

Libraries for All?

Article excerpt

A phrase not yet in common usage in Australia or New Zealand public libraries is `social inclusion'. It should be, because public libraries are increasingly being recognised as a major force to combat social exclusion.

Read what Chris Smith, Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport in the UK writes in the foreword to his department's October 1999 report Libraries for all: social inclusion in public libraries: policy guide for local authorities in England

   One of the government's highest priorities is to combat social exclusion
   ... A regenerated and proactive library sector can help improve social
   networking, It also supports community, adult and family learning ... The
   government wants libraries to be at the very heart of the communities they
   serve allowing everyone, irrespective of their age and social background,
   to have access to the widest possible range of information, knowledge and
   services. We want libraries to play a major role in supporting formal
   education and lifelong learning for everyone. We want the facilities and
   services they provide to be accessible, be at the times when most people
   want to use them and we want the local community to be involved in
   developing the range of services that they provide.

Libraries for all, in its executive summary, lists eleven main recommendations to help local authorities address social exclusion, the first of which is that

   Social inclusion should be mainstreamed as a policy priority within all
library and information services

Chris Smith's department has as the aim of its social inclusion policy

   To promote the involvement in culture and leisure activities of those at
   risk of social disadvantage and marginalisation, particularly by virtue of
   the area they live in, their disability and age, racial or ethnic origin. … 
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