[Alis] Multicultural Manifesto

kmccook at tampabay.rr.com kmccook at tampabay.rr.com
Sat Feb 21 07:34:32 EST 2009

The IFLA Multicultural Library Manifesto

The Multicultural Library - a gateway to a cultural diverse
society in dialogue.

All people live in an increasingly heterogeneous society. There 
are more than 6,000 different languages in the world. The 
international migration rate is growing every year resulting in an 
increasing number of people with complex identities. 
Globalization, increased migration,
faster communication, ease of transportation and other 21st 
century forces have increased cultural diversity in many nations 
where it might not have previously existed or has augmented the 
existing multicultural makeup.

"Cultural Diversity" or "Multiculturalism" refers to the harmonious 
co-existence and interaction of different cultures, where "culture 
should be regarded as the set of distinctive spiritual, material, 
intellectual and emotional features of society or a social group, 
and that it encompasses, in addition to art and literature; 
lifestyles, ways of living together, value systems, traditions and 
beliefs".1 Cultural diversity or multiculturalism is the foundation of 
our collective strength in our local communities and in our global 

Cultural and linguistic diversity is the common heritage of 
humankind and should be cherished and preserved for the benefit 
of all. It is a source for the exchange, innovation, creativity, and 
peaceful coexistence among peoples. "Respect for the diversity of 
tolerance, dialogue and cooperation, in a climate of mutual trust 
and understanding are among the best guarantees of 
international peace and security".2 Therefore, libraries of all types 
should reflect, support and promote cultural and linguistic 
diversity at the international,
national, and local levels, and thus work for cross-cultural 
dialogue and active citizenship.

As libraries serve diverse interests and communities, they 
function as learning, cultural, and information centres. In 
addressing cultural and linguistic diversity, library services are 
driven by their commitment to the principles of fundamental 
freedoms and equity of access to
information and knowledge for all, in the respect of cultural 
identity and values.

Each individual in our global society has the right to a full range of 
library and information services. In addressing cultural and 
linguistic diversity, libraries should:
* serve all members of the community without discrimination 
based on cultural and linguistic heritage;
* provide information in appropriate languages and scripts;
* give access to a broad range of materials and services reflecting 
all communities and needs;
* employ staff to reflect the diversity of the community, who are 
trained to work with and serve diverse communities.
Library and information services in a culturally and linguistically 
diverse context include both the provision of services to all types 
of library users and the provision of library services specifically 
targeted to underserved cultural and linguistic groups. Special 
attention should be paid to groups which are often marginalized in 
culturally diverse societies: minorities, asylum seekers and 
refugees, residents with a temporary residence permit, migrant 
workers, and indigenous communities.

Missions of multicultural library services
In a culturally diverse society focus should be on the following key 
missions, which relate to information, literacy, education and 
* promoting awareness of the positive value of cultural diversity 
and fostering cultural dialogue;
* encouraging linguistic diversity and respect for the mother 
* facilitating the harmonious coexistence of several languages, 
including learning of several languages from an early age;
* safeguarding linguistic and cultural heritage and giving support 
to expression, creation and dissemination in all relevant 
* supporting the preservation of oral tradition and intangible 
cultural heritage;
* supporting inclusion and participation of persons and groups 
from all diverse cultural backgrounds;
* encouraging information literacy in the digital age, and the 
mastering of information and communication technologies;
* promoting linguistic diversity in cyberspace;
* encouraging universal access to cyberspace;
* supporting the exchange of knowledge and best practices with 
regard to cultural pluralism.

Management and operation
The multicultural library expects all types of libraries to adopt an 
integrated service approach. The core activities of library and 
information services for culturally and linguistically diverse
communities are central, not "separate" or "additional", and 
should always be designed to meet local or specific needs.

The library should have a policy and a strategic plan, defining its 
mission, objectives, priorities and services related to cultural 
diversity. The plan should be based on a comprehensive user 
needs analysis and adequate resources.

The library activities should not be developed in isolation. 
Cooperation with relevant user groups and professionals at local, 
national or international level should be encouraged.

Core actions
The multicultural library should:
* develop culturally diverse and multilingual collections and 
services, including digital and multimedia resources;
*allocate resources for the preservation of cultural expression and 
heritage, paying particular attention to oral, indigenous and 
intangible cultural heritage;
* include programmes supporting user education, information 
literacy skills, newcomer resources, cultural heritage and cross-
cultural dialogue as integral parts of the services;
*provide access to library resources in appropriate languages 
through information organization and access systems;
* develop marketing and outreach materials in appropriate media 
and languages to attract different groups to the library.

The library staff is the active intermediary between users and 
resources. Professional education and continuing training focused 
on services to multicultural communities, crosscultural 
communication and sensitivity, anti-discrimination, cultures and 
languages should be

The staff of a multicultural library should reflect the cultural and 
linguistic characteristic of the community to ensure cultural 
awareness, reflect the community the library serves, and 
encourage communication.

Funding, legislation and networks
Governments and other relevant decision-making bodies are 
encouraged to establish and adequately fund libraries and library 
systems to offer free library and information services to culturally 
diverse communities.

Multicultural library services are in essence global. All libraries 
involved in activities in this field must participate in relevant local, 
national or international networks in policy development. 
Research is needed to obtain the data necessary to make 
informed service
decisions and secure appropriate funding. Research findings and 
best practices should be widely disseminated in order to guide 
effective multicultural library services.

Implementing the Manifesto
The international community should recognize and support 
libraries and information services in their role of promoting and 
preserving cultural and linguistic diversity.

Decision makers at all levels and the library community around 
the world are hereby requested to disseminate this Manifesto and 
to carry out the principles and actions expressed herein.
This Manifesto complements the IFLA/UNESCO Public Library 
Manifesto, the IFLA/UNESCO School Library Manifesto and the 
IFLA Internet Manifesto.

This Manifesto was approved by the Governing Board of IFLA in 
August 2006 and endorsed in April 2008 by the Intergovernmental 
Council for UNESCO´s Information for All Programme with the 
recommendation that it be submitted to the 35th session of the 
General Conference of UNESCO for consideration.

1 UNESCO Universal Declaration on Cultural Diversity, 2001.
2 ibid.

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