Talking FAIR at the Australian Digital Alliance

Friday, 13 February 2015

ALIA CEO, Sue McKerracher, had the opportunity this morning to speak to the Australian Digital Alliance in Canberra at the National Library of Australia.

Ms McKerracher noted that there had been some depressing news from the UK covered this week in The Independent – ‘Number of library visitors falls by 40 million in four years as austerity measures force closures’.

She said that we must take action to prevent any similar cutbacks to Australian libraries, so the Australian Library and Information Association (ALIA) has launched FAIR – Freedom of Access to Information and Resources. 

FAIR is campaigning for a fair, open, democratic society where information can be accessed by everyone.

FAIR is lobbying on a number of issues which affect Australia's library and information sector including copyright law reformcybersafety and the problems with internet filteringdigitising our nation’s historyencouraging children to readevidence-based decisions in law, health and businessevidence-based policy makinglearning at any agequalified library staff in schoolssupporting Australia's book industry and well funded public libraries.

She said: ‘It’s interesting that when successful entrepreneurs and companies look for causes to support they turn to health, ending poverty and literacy. They invest in literacy because they know that it’s education and access to information that can improve lives and provide people with choices. Libraries are places where a person can visit this community space and open the door to a wealth of knowledge. This is why libraries are worth supporting.’

Ms McKerracher also said FAIR would be campaigning for sensible and practical copyright reform. The law needs a major overhaul because it hasn’t kept up with technology and the way people are sharing information through social media.

Following Ms McKerracher was Maryanne Diamond, General Manager Advocacy and Engagement at Vision Australia, who is pushing for the ratification of the Marrakesh Treaty which aims to simplify the process of publishing books in Braille, large print and audio.

Signatories must allow blind and visions impaired people to make accessible formats of books without copyright holder permission and to freely import and export such versions.