Program of BiS

Program for Bibliotek i Samhälle, BiS

Revised and Adopted on the BiS Annual Meeting in Borås, March 13, 2009

Bibliotek i Samhälle (BiS) is a politically independent socialist organization that promotes democratic society and a library system for everyone. BiS understands socialism to be about human liberation and development, based on equitable distribution of material, social and cultural assets. BiS struggles for a progressive library service that counters inequality and injustice, both nationally and internationally.

The association publishes the BiS journal, and initiates discussion around library participation, and cultural and social issues. The association shall develop and expand upon library issues and ideological knowledge through meetings, its website, and other digital arenas.

Libraries in Society

In recent decades, information and communication technology (ICT) has changed the conditions and terms of how information is produced, communicated and made available. ICTs provide increased access to information, but also pose a risk of creating broader information and knowledge gaps. Globalisation and greater cultural diversity create great opportunities for dynamic and enriching cultural exchange – but also result in more power to the growing media monopoly and the consequent risk of uniformity. Libraries provide an alternative, non-commercial space for many subcultures.

Supranational trends in the EU constitute a potential threat to the Scandinavian model by requiring deregulation, new copyright applications, and that library services be defined in market terms, not by cultural policies.

BiS believes that libraries have a community supporting role – a public service remit of freedom of expression and diversity services. Libraries should provide people opportunities to acquire knowledge and contextual information about social, economic, technological and scientific matters.

In order to use democratic freedoms and rights in a creative and unified way, the libraries’ mission is to defend and develop democratic society. The library’s selection, opening times, venue, and digital arenas design will offer various types of experience, giving expression and creating conditions for engagement.

Despite the increased role of sound and image media, dissemination of knowledge and culture requires linguistic understanding. In the foreseeable future, our culture and democracy will build on the written word. The ability to be able to understand a text, and self-expression in speech and writing are critical for individuals and groups to participate in community life.

The library’s expanded mission in a society with many languages and new media types requires more resources to avoid the reduction of quality and avoid fee-based services.

BiS would therefore like to work for:

  • a library model and an integrated national library policy that takes account of quality and guarantees an equitable library standard for all
  • maintaining and developing the quality of public libraries, including more resources for an expanded mandate
  • acknowledgement that the library’s primary mission concerns the written word, regardless of storage format
  • tightening the library law to mandate the public library’s public service remit.

Free and Equal Access to Libraries

BiS is working towards free and equitable access to information and knowledge sources. Therefore this means that libraries should have the opportunity and mission to be quality conscious, work for popular education, and provide an alternative to commercialism. A prerequisite for this is that libraries will continue to operate in the public domain, and can maintain and further develop well-functioning collaborative networks.

Libraries’ media selection must also provide for lifelong learning and adult education. The public and school libraries’ task is to bridge the information and knowledge gaps that exist because of social, cultural, educational and economic class differences.

BiS would therefore like to work for:

  • a revised library law that includes free computer use in libraries
  • reviewing and discussing the role of libraries in society
  • library provision of quality fiction, non-fiction, magazines, digital storage media and electronic media in as many as possible of the languages spoken in the country
  • greater focus on learning centers, library services in rural and urban neighborhoods, as well as outreach to workplaces, institutions, etc.
  • giving priority to children, taking account of their perspectives, fostering development of their language and reading skills, and provision of needed books and other media in local libraries.
  • Library Dialogue
  • Everyone shall have the opportunity to maintain and further develop their personal, cultural and civic identity in the framework of a democratic society. The library’s mission is to serve all communities, not only already motivated groups and individuals, and contribute to equality and inclusion. Library users should be the focus of library operations, i.e. libraries must be in dialogue with users to develop collections and activities. The library should be a meeting place to promote thoughts, experiences and cultural expressions.

BiS would therefore like to work for:

  • increased attention to user perspectives, e.g. external analysis which clarifies the needs of the community
  • constant dialogue as a political principal
  • providing an active neutral venue for dialogue between citizens and policymakers
  • user training in a wide range of knowledge sources
  • confidentiality rules that apply equally to use of library computers and for media loans

Translated into English by Al Kagan, 2011