Perceptions of Libraries as Development Partners: new report and brief released

Access to information plays an important role in development. Communities benefit when people can learn about health, jobs, education, leisure activities, or whatever inspires them. In many countries, public libraries deliver this core service. With 230,000 public libraries located in the developing world, opportunities for collaboration between libraries and development agencies are significant. Yet, public libraries are often overlooked as partners for development.

Seeking to understand why libraries are overlooked in development initiatives, the study, Beyond Access: Perceptions of Libraries as Development Partners, examined the question: What do key decision makers around the world think about public libraries and their potential to play a more prominent role in development initiatives? Researchers interviewed 51 participants—including development leaders (government officials, international non-governmental organizations) and library leaders (government officials, library administrators)—in 13 countries to uncover their perceptions regarding libraries in development.

Coinciding with the first Beyond Access event, Local Alternatives for Global Development: Rediscovering Libraries, on October 3, 2012, TASCHA has released the results of its study, Beyond Access: Perceptions of Libraries as Development Partners, in the forms of a brief and full report.

The study was commissioned by a broader initiative, Beyond Access, which believes that libraries power development. The study  was conducted by Chris Coward, Michelle Fellows, and Rebecca Sears of TASCHA, with support from IREX and Beyond Access. Beyond Access is an initiative of IREX, EIFL, IFLA, Makaia, Civic Regeneration, TASCHA, the Riecken Foundation, and READ Global, with support from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. For more information, visit the Beyond Access website.