The International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions (IFLA), in association with IFLA’s Centre for Arabic Speaking Libraries and Information Institutions at the Bibliotheca Alexandrina, is pleased to announce its regional conference on ‘The Role of Libraries in Freedom of Expression, Tolerance, and Access to Information’ at the Bibliotheca Alexandrina in Alexandria, Egypt on October 7, 8 and 9, 2008.
The first years of the 21st century have seen freedom of access to information and freedom of expression placed under pressure all over the world. Anti-terror legislation and national security concerns caused chilling effects on freedom of speech and decrease access to government information, while at the same time cultural misunderstandings cause offence, sometimes at the expense of freedom of expression. Even though it can be a struggle to promote tolerance and freedom of access to information in these conditions, librarians must find a way to uphold their commitment to human rights and intellectual freedom.
The conference is aimed at library and information professionals and students from Egypt and the Arabic Speaking region, as well as interested professionals in the fields of media and education. Its aim is to analyse the role libraries play in promoting freedom of expression and tolerance, and to create a wider awareness of the activities libraries undertake to safeguard human rights and promote tolerance for the ‘other’. The conference will discuss libraries as agents of freedom of access to information, the relationship between tolerance and freedom of expression, and the responsibility that producers of information have to ensure so information is disseminated in accordance with Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
The conference takes place over three days, with keynote speeches and a dinner for participants on the evening of the 7th October, and then two days of conference presentations on the 8th and 9th. Experts from Egypt, the wider Middle-East, Africa, and Europe will present papers and participate in panel discussions that aim to stimulate discussion and debate among participants. There will also be a poster exhibition showcasing libraries and human rights organisations in North Africa and the Middle-East. IFLA is proud to be able to hold the conference at the famous Bibliotheca Alexandrina and to invite participants from all over the world to attend this important event.