NATIONAL AND STATE LIBRARIES AUSTRALASIA
STATEMENT ON INTERNATIONAL DAY OF DEMOCRACY
15 SEPTEMBER 2023
“Democracy is a universal value based on the freely-expressed will of people to determine their own political, economic, social and cultural systems, and their full participation in all aspects of life”.
United Nations General Assembly, 2007
On the International Day of Democracy 2023, in a global context of political division and social unrest, National and State Libraries Australasia (NSLA) calls attention to the continuing role of libraries as free, public spaces for discovery and access to information, in person and online.
The long-standing association of NSLA member libraries is based upon our common purpose to collect, preserve and provide access to the documentary heritage of Australia and Aotearoa New Zealand: our collective intellectual, cultural and creative legacy.
Under federal, state and territory legal deposit legislation, we strive to collect every published work in Australia and New Zealand – irrespective of content or authorship – so that the stories, knowledge and creativity of today can be shared for the benefit of current and future generations. These legal deposit systems and services are applied around the world in what Bodleian Librarian Richard Ovenden describes as the ‘essential infrastructure of democracy’.
In addition to our core collecting activities, NSLA libraries are – physically and virtually – sites of learning, discovery, creativity, community, and public debate. Together, we uphold the democratic principles of intellectual freedom and the right to information. We are dedicated to the principles of FAIR open access alongside CARE principles for Indigenous data governance, and we are committed members of Open Access Australasia and the Australian Open Science Network.
NSLA libraries will continue to work with partners in the Australian Media Literacy Alliance and with patrons in our libraries to tackle the pervasive issue of misinformation and disinformation. We support the efforts of the Australian Library & Information Association (ALIA) in resisting challenges to intellectual freedom that have arisen in response to socially inclusive public library programs and collections. As part of our shared commitment to public service, NSLA libraries’ programs promote civic engagement by improving digital literacy, media literacy, language and research skills. Our services and collections are shaped to reflect the diversity of the communities we serve.
Libraries are at the heart of open, democratic societies and NSLA libraries are proud to celebrate the International Day of Democracy 2023.
For more information, see nsla.org.au.