As gateways to knowledge and culture, libraries play a fundamental role in society. It guaranteering the the access to the knowledge.

Supporting education

Libraries are synonymous with education and offer countless learning opportunities that can fuel economic, social and cultural development. The inspiring story of William Kamkwamba from Malawi underlines the difference a library can make. Having borrowed a book about windmills from his local library, Mr. Kamkwamba learned how to build an energy-producing turbine for his village.

On the strength of this experience, he went on to study at a leading US university. That one book not only changed his life; it also transformed the lives of those in his village community. Such stories explain why many countries are eager to ensure that libraries continue to provide access to knowledge, learning and ideas.

In addition to lending books, libraries are also involved in copying materials for research or private study purposes. Students cannot afford to buy every book or pay for every television broadcast or journal they need to access for their studies. They, therefore, rely on the services of a library. Just five years ago, applying the concept of interlibrary loans to digital works was problematic.

However, with the widespread availability of electronic platforms that effortlessly control access to content, such as iTunes and Kindle, and the expansion of electronic interlibrary loans by some research libraries – although there is still some way to go in discussion with publishers – this is no longer the insurmountable problem it may have appeared to be a few years ago.

Preserving Cultural Heritage

Recognizing the cultural importance of sharing, Mahatma Gandhi said that, “no culture can live, if it attempts to be exclusive”. The stimulus to share and reuse information and knowledge comes in many guises. Perhaps the most deep-rooted of our human instincts is the desire to preserve our culture for future generations. This is one of the most important functions of libraries.

Libraries are rich repositories of historically and culturally significant collections, many of which are not available anywhere else in the world. Without an appropriate copyright exception, a library could not preserve or replace a damaged work while it is still covered by copyright. For example, it could not lawfully copy or digitize an old newspaper or a unique sound recording to preserve it. Without appropriate library exceptions, this cultural heritage would be lost to future generations.

Today, many works are only “born digital”, such as websites or electronic journals, and are unavailable in print format. Without the legal means to preserve and replace works in a variety of media and formats – including format shifting and migrating electronic content from obsolete storage formats – many of these works will inevitably be lost to future generations of historian