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Information for Social Change

Information for Social Change

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ISC 15. Editorial

Our last issue of ISC on Globalisation and Information, edited by Ruth Rikowski, was the most successful issue we have ever produced in our eight year history. Funded by CILIP, this 80 page issue contained articles by experts in the field, and was sent to a wide range of individuals and organisations. As a result comment and news about ISC appeared in the journals and websites of the World Development Movement, Not for Profit, Sustainable Development International, Library Association Record, Library Management, IGLA, ATTAC, Radio 4, Sussex University, The Commoner, UNESCO, Managing Information, Public Library Journal, Morning Star, EBLIDA, IFLA, Weblog, Norweld, the Progressive Librarians Guild, and elsewhere. See Ruth's article in this issue on the full impact of the now legendary ISC 14.

ISC 15 has taken for its theme : Libraries for life : democracy, diversity, delivery. Sounds familiar? It should do, because this is also the theme of the 2002 International Federation of Library Associations conference in Glasgow, being held between 18-21 August. ISC will have two delegates at IFLA : Ruth Rikowski and Shiraz Durrani. If you are going to IFLA, please make yourself known to them. Ruth has organised a fringe meeting on globalisation, libraries and education, which will be held at Glasgow University on 22 August, 1-5pm. This will be followed by a reception hosted by LINK. If you can make it to the meeting and/or the reception, please come along.

"Democracy is not itself an institution but a process of emancipation" (Communist Party of Britain draft resolution - winning the battle for democracy, 2000). I like this quote because democracy is often spoken of as an institution rather than a process. In this issue I ask "Will the real democracy please stand up ?" as I try to separate the western model of democracy (vote counting, unless you live in Venezuela) with some alternative, and altogether more vibrant examples of real democracy in countries such as Cuba. Also in this section, we have a "Report on the ALA Delegation trip to Cuba" (which includes an extensive list of Cuban websites) and a "Resolution on the Destruction of Palestinian Libraries, Archives, and Other Cultural Institutions" (submitted by ISC to CILIP, and based on a PLG resolution to ALA).

Diversity is another buzz word about much is spoken and written, but very little is actually done. Diversity, like democracy. Is regarded as a western concept and the whole world should fit the western model. It is refreshing, then, to be given two perspectives of diversity not from the oppressor but from the oppressed : the peoples of Kenya ("Never be silent") and Uganda ("A personal viewpoint on the Expulsion, 30 years on". It is also good to be reminded of the struggles wages by ordinary people against their colonial oppressors. British history books only tell one side of the story. The heroic and revolutionary fight put up by the courageous Mau Mau freedom fighters is rarely told - because it lifts a corner on Britain's dark colonial history, and it tells a story of how working people can successfully organise themselves, fight back and triumph against overwhelming odds. The divide and rule tactics of colonialism are laid bare in "I have a dream".

Delivery focuses on "Tackling social exclusion". The concept is explained and a view is taken of how well social exclusion is being tackled by public libraries in Britain. There are still many barriers to the take up of library services by marginalised and oppressed groups such as the homeless, Travellers and refugees. Few library services have the strategies, structures and cultures to seriously challenge and tackle exclusion. And for those which have started the process, there is already a backlash against social inclusion. Nevertheless, there is some good practice emerging regarding policy implementation, services for children and young people, and mobile libraries. Much of this progress is being facilitated by The Network (tackling social exclusion in libraries, museums, archives and galleries) which produces an excellent monthly newsletter and delivers professional and in-house training on all aspects of social exclusion.

This issue also has some articles which follow up on the theme of the last ISC - globalisation :. "Taking power from the global corporations" and "What does the future hold for our public libraries", (a scary but realistic assessment of the direction that one of our oldest and most cherished public institutions is taking). There is also an excellent analysis of "The GATS' Article I, paragraph 3" which sounds very dull but which is actually extremely significant for library and information workers. Finally, Martyn Lowe has contributed a very practical article on how to wind up a campaign or organisation ("After the Organisation")

Part five contains reviews of "Housmans 2002 Peace Diary with World Peace Directory" and "The Guru Guide to the Knowledge Economy". Finally, there is are adverts for the ISC fringe meeting at IFLA, for an ATTAC conference in November and for "Capital and Class", journal of the Conference of Socialist Economists. I would strongly recommend that regular readers of ISC take out a subscription to this journal. It is definitely on our wavelength as evidenced by these articles in the latest issue : "The Labor Theory of Value and the strategic role of alienation", "Are things really getting better ? The labour market experience of black and female youth at the start of the century" and "Managers and managerialism in the post-privatised utilities".

The next issue of ISC will be out in January 2003. It will include a full report back on IFLA. If you have any articles or news items which you would like included in the next issue, please send them to the editorial address by 30 December 2002.


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