Advocacy and Lobbying for libraries in Europe

Since 1992, EBLIDA’s main goal is to lobby for libraries in Europe.

EBLIDA lobbies to defend and promote the interests of the library, archive and information sectors and professionals in Europe, mainly following the policy agenda of the European Commission.

Strand n.1:
Advocacy at Political Level

There is no need to quote Rousseau to claim that direct democracy maximizes participation. On the other hand, deliberation through direct democracy is emotion-driven if it is not accompanied by the conditions required to make good deliberations. The misuse of direct democracy can be contrasted by a well-informed debate with clear questions and outcomes, especially at local level.

At Political level, EBLIDA collaborates with Public Libraries 2030 in implementing:

In collaboration with IFLA, Public Libraries 2030, LIBER and SPARC Europe, EBLIDA is advocating for Libraries in Europe.

Strand n.2:
Enhance Library Legislative Framework

A revision of current Library legislations in Europe is needed to attains minimal requirements for a library system supporting an equitable, democratic and sustainable society.

The flagship project linked to this Strand is to revise the  Council of Europe EBLIDA Guidelines on Library Legislation and Policy in Europe approved by the Council for Cultural Co-operation at its 68th Session (19-21 January 2000) and  by the EBLIDA Executive Committee in January 2000 – in the light of four major catalysts:

a) Active participation and the struggle for an equitable and democratic society;
b) The UN Sustainable Development Goals in Europe;
c) The Directive on Copyright in the Digital Single Market;
d) Artificial Intelligence.

In defining library legislation we need to look beyond laws that concern themselves primarily with libraries. There is a great deal of legislation relevant to libraries that is present in other legislative frameworks, first and foremost the nation’s Constitution. These pieces of legislation are for non-library purposes, but incidentally exercise important effects on the ways in which libraries develop.

A Revised Council of Europe EBLIDA Guidelines on Library Legislation and Policy in Europe should take into account the following five domains:

1. Freedom of expression and free access to information – i.e, a sound framework to have these rights guaranteed in library operations.
2. Libraries within the national cultural and information policies – i.e,the most appropriate legislative framework for libraries: decentralisation, autonomy, “privatisation” as a larger autonomy assigned to library entities.
3. Libraries and the creative and/or knowledge industries – i.e, copyright and other legislative acts exerting an influence on libraries.
4. Libraries within the national educational and social policies – i.e, policies designed to implement Sustainable development Goals in Europe.
5. The protection of library heritage – legal deposit and other conservation and preservation activities.

In its action the EBLIDA Secretariat is assisted by the LibLeg Working Group.
In many European countries a Library Act does exist; it is relatively easy to extract some of the articles – objectives, scope, activities, funding entities, etc. – and make them a standard pre-requirement for library legislation in all countries. More difficult is instead to explore non library-related legislation which is relevant for libraries. The “social” library – often designated “Libraries as Third place” – can only be framed into the wider scope of the European 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

Moreover, EBLIDA is continuing its effort focused on Copyright, undertaken in collaboration with IFLA, LIBER, SPARC Europe, CENL and other associations, and the Marrakesh Treaty.

Strand n.3:
Policy-Making in Libraries

Library statistics in the European Union started to be collected in a more systematic and intensive manner around 1990-2000, thanks to funding provided by the European Commission. There have been numerous attempts to collect library statistics thanks to EBLIDA (2013-2015), the IFLA Library Map of the World. In 2017, PL 2020 combined IFLA Library Map of the World with other indicators in its EU Library Factsheets.

Usual figures about EU libraries record 65,000 public libraries which are attended by some 100 million annual visitors.

However impressive library statistics may seem, they are far from satisfactory. The number of 100 million annual library visitors, for instance,  can be dismissed with a scorn by a biased economist who might infer that similar, and perhaps better, results are achieved by social media, search engines and similar channels.
New library indicators are therefore needed, which assess rather than the intensity of use of library resources, how libraries are used. Library performance indicators which take into account Europe-wide sustainable development indicators based on Eurostat.

One of the tasks of ELSIA (European Libraries and Sustainability Implementation and Assessment) Expert Group, set up by EBLIDA on 7th October 2019, is to examine appropriate methodologies for the assessment of library performances in the social and economic field, in association with general socio-economic indicators of a general nature, such as the Eurostat-based SDG Indicators, the OECD Well-Being Index, and similar. ELSIA results are available in the EBLIDA Matrix.

Strand n.4:
Support Library Educational and Socio-cultural development

In the 19th century, literacy skills were linked to the progress of the concept of nation. After the 2nd World War, in a post-totalitarian era, public libraries were identified as agents of democratic change. In early 1970’s, this idealistic notion left the floor to a more “utilitarian” attitude based on technical applications and technologies.

At the turn of the second Millennium, information service providers broke the monopoly libraries had enjoyed for years. In the current economy of attention, many services – like Google services – are accessible free of charge and are at the users’ fingertip. A new political framework is therefore needed – and this framework can be clearly identified in the UN Sustainable Development Goals and, in Europe, the EU 2030 Agenda on Sustainable Development.

Look at the numerous products elaborated by EBLIDA under Strand 4: The three reports A European library agenda for the post-Covid 19 age – Work in Progress, the Sustainable Development Goals and Libraries – First European ReportThe European Structural and Investment Funds 2021-2027: Funding Opportunities for Libraries. These three reports have been aggregated into Think The Unthinkable: A post Covid-19 European Library Agenda meeting Sustainable Development Goals and funded through the European Structural and Investment Funds (2021-2027). See also the European Workshops organised by EBLIDA (October 2020), and the National Workshops.

Strand n. 4. Action is supported by the EBLIDA ELSIA (European Libraries and Sustainability Implementation and Assessment) Expert Group has been established to deal with this topic.

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