At this year’s Internet Governance Forum (IGF), TASCHA researcher Maria Garrido spoke on a panel, Policy Changes for Public Access, hosted by IFLA and EIFL. Dr. Garrido offered her expertise from her Development and Access to Information project (DA2I) as well as her work around the role that libraries play in providing access to information. “Even though there has been a steep climb of internet users around the world, still more than half of the world’s population remains offline,” Garrido said, “the need for policies that support public access and libraries is more relevant than ever.”
The first objective of the panel was to share real-world examples of the important role libraries perform by providing public access to the Internet. Speakers, including Garrido and members of IFLA and EIFL, brought experience from Africa, Latin America and the Pacific to the conversation. Through her work around the world, Garrido has spoken to the many communities where public libraries represent the only possibility for people to participate in digital life. She presented her findings from the DA2I project to make the case for the need of public access to ICTs worldwide.
The second objective aimed to build on the Principles on Public Access agreed on at the 2015 IGF session “Dynamic Coalition on Public Access in Libraries” to launch a deeper analysis of the tangible policy changes needed to make a reality of public access in libraries. What made presenting the DA2I work particularly impactful at the Internet Governance Forum was the opportunity for tangible policy change, Garrido said. The range of actors in attendance included policy makers, NGOs, private companies, researchers, and government development agencies– spanning the gap between research and policy by fostering dialogue between actors. “It is very important for us as researchers to develop bridges with these different actors and participate more actively in conversations that move from the realm of research to realm of research for evidence and policy development,” Garrido said.