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Experiences of libraries of the LAC region in reducing the digital divide in providing access to quality information during a pandemic

26 March 2021|Briefing note

Highlights of the side event of the Forum of the Countries of Latin America and the Caribbean on Sustainable Development 2021

Within the framework of the Fourth Meeting of the Forum of the Countries of Latin America and the Caribbean on Sustainable Development, ECLAC Brasilia and the Hernán Santa Cruz Library, ECLAC, in collaboration with the Brazilian Federation of Library Associations and the UNICs in Brazil and Trinidad and Tobago organised a side event entitled “Overcoming the digital divide in times of pandemic - open access to verified information on sustainable development.” The virtual event was hosted in Costa Rica on the 18th of March 2020 and welcomed a global audience on zoom and YouTube of over 500 participants.

The panel was moderated by Carlos Mussi – Director, ECLAC Brazil who ensured that the objective of the event - to discuss how libraries can support efforts to guarantee access to reliable science-based information about COVID-19 - was expertly achieved.

Juan Miguel Diez - Director, UNIC Port of Spain - presented on United Nations ShareVerified, an initiative to prevent the spread of false information around COVID-19. The initiative highlights references and access to correct documentation and data for sustainable development amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

Javier Murillo Acuña - Director Metrics Digital - Mexico spoke on the scourge of fake news and how it is endemic to social networks.

Adriana Ferrari - Vice President of FEBAB - Brazil, reiterated why libraries are strategic allies for the fulfillment of Sustainable Development Goals and Agenda 2030 by providing open access to reliable and verified information. Ferrari presented two actions made by FEBAB called "Informação em Quarentena" and "Inteiras Verdades", which have been supporting librarian's work during the pandemic.

Wouter Schallier - Chief of the Hernán Santa Cruz Library, Santiago - spoke about the lack of stable internet connectivity for 50% of the global population, the importance of information literacy in a world dominated by algorithms, the role of libraries in providing access to a large variety of reliable information, offering different perspectives, in a neutral and unbiased manner. And finally, how libraries empower people to become digital citizens instead of just being digital consumers.

The event also featured videos on the experiences of libraries in the region in reducing digital gaps in access to quality information.