Public Access Centers such as Libraries, Community Networks and Offline Internet all combine to provide a solution to reach the billions of people not yet connected.

Even as the celebrations for getting half of the world’s population online approach, the need to reach the rest remains as strong as ever. The challenges will not get easier, with non-users of the internet often facing low incomes, remoteness or other barriers that stand in the way of the solutions which have worked to date. There is no easy fix, but a combination of approaches could, together, offer a formula to address almost any circumstance.

Priority approaches include:

  • Public access centers such as libraries: promotion of digital inclusion through technology access, information access, and development of ICT skills.
  • Community networks: a complementary way – across various sectors, economies, and technologies – to provide connectivity.
  • Offline internet: A growing movement striving to provide digital information access for communities that are not currently connected to the internet.

These approaches can support and reinforce each other to Connect and Enable the Next Billions (CENB) with attention to the UN’s 2030 Sustainable Development Goals (SDG’s).

2021 Declaration

Libraries in Response: Every Community Connected

The global health crisis has made the pre-existing global connectivity crisis more evident – and action more urgent – than ever before. Broadband access is critical to the health, safety, education and economic well-being of communities. Public Access is proven to be an economical and equitable way to connect every community.

We pledge to do all within our power to ensure every community is connected. In turn, we call on decision-makers at all levels to:

  • Ensure that each community has access to at least one publicly-available, adequately connected, no-fee internet access point, and that every school has access to an online or offline library.
  • Mobilize libraries to act as community labs for action research, improving how we connect, protect and respect each other, and work together to achieve the UN Sustainable Development Goals by 2030.
  • Ensure adequate trained staffing and access to equipment for libraries and other community anchor institutions to provide a safe and secure access point to networks, respectful of privacy, and support for digital skills and education throughout life, enabling people to learn, earn and thrive.

Signatories: 10/28/20

International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions (IFLA)

Alliance for Affordable Internet (A4AI)/ Web Foundation

Internet Society

People Centered Internet

Bibliothéques Sans Frontières

EIFL (Electronic Information for Libraries)

Association for Progressive Communications (APC)

Offline Internet Consortium (OLI)

Dynamic Spectrum Alliance

Gigabit Libraries Network (GLN)