The Australian Library and Information Association has realised a campaign kit for its members outlining advocacy opportunities for the upcoming federal election. It’s aimed at achieving some admirable goals, both in terms of support of the profession and work of librarians, and in ensuring Australians’ rights to free access to information are upheld. ALIA has previously come out swinging on the issue of internet censorship, partnering with the likes of Google and Yahoo! to release a very sensible statement on the issues surrounding the proposed filter.
That said, it is a little disappointing to see that internet filtering is listed as the eighth of ten lobbying priorities, given that the issue has the potential to be not only broad reaching, but destructive of what we as librarians try to do, and given that it’s been a major promise (or as I prefer to think of it, threat) of the Labor government, with the Liberal unsurprisingly offering no opposition or alternative, and Steven Conroy’s facile comments about not supporting child pornography being given a lot of airtime. Although Labor has wisely shooed the filter to the back of its media blitz for the time being, given its lack of popularity with the public, it will not be forgotten about or rejected any time soon. Now is a great time for librarians, and our industry body, to really take part in discussions about the future of free access to information in Australian society.
The campaign kit is comprehensive and well put together, and I urge library types to take a look at it. ALIA may not always get it right, but the issues they raise are important, and now is the perfect time to raise them.