Understanding cultures, and IFLA's freedom of access to information and freedom of expression (FAIFE) core activity
journal contributionposted on 01.11.2005, 15:06 by R. Paul Sturges
The sheer difficulty of entering into the minds of people from different cultures is frequently undervalued, when it is exactly the differences between modes of perception, belief, communication and behaviour that are significant. The need in information and library services for multicultural communities is often described as if it is solely for members of minority communities to be able to obtain materials in their own languages and cultural traditions. The assumption is that existing services provide all that is necessary for them to begin to understand the host community. A more considered view would stress the need for access to richly informative resources so that all members of a multicultural society can move towards a deeper understanding of each other. IFLA’s FAIFE initiative may seem to be simply a campaign against the suppression and censorship of information and communication. In fact its implications go much deeper and have a close relationship with Kay Raseroka’s IFLA Presidential theme for 2003-5 ‘Libraries for Lifelong Literacy’. True free access to information is skilled and discriminating access that enables the searcher to locate, identify and interpret information. This is access unhindered by prejudices, misconceptions and inadequate competences. FAIFE’s role in facilitating removal of restrictions, combating suppression of information, fostering rights of access and supporting the development of information competences in all communities and in the information professionals who serve them, is potentially a major contributor to the enhancement of fair and harmonious relations in multicultural communities.
- Information Science