Libraries and Democracy
National Seminars on Libraries and Their Roles in Democratic Societies
New challenges for Indonesian libraries in the era of democratisation
By Binny Buchori
Indonesia is one of the largest democratic country in the world. Significant changes since 1998 in Indonesia has been a lot of impact for role’s of libraries in Indonesia.
• Universalise the thinking of citizens, so that people have the same standard on rights (how many people understand that they have the rights to drinking water and clean water, do PDAMs deliver this?; do the public know the responsibilities of the mayor of Surabya?)
• Enhance the knowledge of citizens on their rights;
• Provide information to stimute people to be organised;
• Improve the skill and knowledge of politicians and other pro democracy actors
• Libraries are key in providing equal access to knowledge and ideas to every citizens
• Libraries could and should “democratize” knowledge
• In a democratic society libraries should function as “the centre of knowledge to all” (as opposed to centre of knowledge for power holders/bureaucracies);
In the process of democratization, did libraries had take their part?
• Promoting knowledge on democracy through its collection and services?
• Enhancing the knowledge of pro democracy actors such as CSOs, political parties, journalists on practices of democracy?
• Democracy projects such as voters education?
• Libraries’ role in democracy is still marginalised;
• ICT has made users access information more and more through internet;
• Public libraries have not yet become information centres for communities;
• Libraries and librarians are not actively in deepening democracy: promoting citizens’ rights, taking part in advocating rights to information
• Knowledge and skill of librarians are more on technical aspect of library management and not on networking with other actors, developing social capital or public relations;
What should libraries do? Take the opportunity to:
• The biggest difference between democratic and totalitarian country:
o Democratic: active citizenship
o Totalitarian: absence of citizen participation;
• So….libraries should move away from passive, government oriented to active and community oriented institution
• Libraries should become the agent to the fulfillment of citizen’s rights
Recommendations related to libraries and democracy:
• Professional organisations:
o Bridge the gap between library schools and new trends and development;
o Lobby legislators and political parties to strive for an enabling environment for library development (budget allocation, lift import tariff on books);
o Promote the role of libraries to the public;
o Put library development as an agenda
o Promote the role of libraries as the pillar of democracy;
• For libraries:
o Be relevant to the needs of citizens(through survey)
o Mobilise support from the communities;
o Develop Patron for Public Libraries;
o Collaborate with private sector for fundraising
o Aggressive PR (ad, campaign)
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