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Libraries and Democracy

Libraries and Democracy
National Seminars on Libraries and Their Roles in Democratic Societies

Wednesday, June 17,2009 at Petra Christian University, Surabaya
Thursday, June 18,2009 at University of Indonesia, Depok


Libraries in Indonesian society are still suffering from under-appreciation due to the
society’s lack of understanding of the roles and functions of libraries as cultural institutions
in a democratic society. The fact that most Indonesian librarians are still caught up in the
technical aspects of library management doesn’t help in alleviating this condition. Libraries
and librarians need to begin presenting themselves in the society and engaging the society
by responding to issues that the society can relate to.

As cultural institutions in a democratic socie ty, libraries can play vital roles in contributing
to democracy. This can be done by strengthening of the civil society in Indonesia through
the advocacy of access to information for all, encouraging open access to documents
produced by government agencies , combating state censorship, providing means of
learning for common people, and providing resources to enable them to contribute back to
their fellow citizens and strengthening the democracy.

As the Legislative (April 2009) and Presidential Election (June 2009) approaching, the
issue of democracy is on the rise in the media and the Indonesia n society as a whole.
However most of the public discourses have been limited to democratic processes signified
by general elections. Very little attention is given to the fact that democracy is not limited
to general elections. Democracy encompasses a wide range of issues, including the
existence of a learned society, an empowered civil society, accountability of the
government, equal and open access to information, and the abolition of state censorship.

These issues directly and indirectly relate to libraries and librarianships.

Indonesian libraries can exploit the excitement over the general elections to educate the
society on the issues pertaining to libraries and their roles in democratic societies,
especially in the context of Indonesia. This can be achieved be holding a seminar, where
representatives from several developed & democratic nations – such as United States,
Australia, and European countrie(s) – can share their experience on the issues. A speaker
from Indonesia can then contextualize the experience of these nations to the current
condition of Indonesia and offer a common platform for Indonesian libraries to assert their
vital roles in the Indonesian democracy. The seminar will involve two prominent library
professional associations in Indonesia, which are ISIPII (Ikatan Sarjana Ilmu Perpustakaan
dan Informasi Indonesia/Association of Indonesian Library and Information Scholars) and
FPPTI (Forum Perpustakaan Perguruan Tinggi Indonesia/Forum of Indonesian Higher
Education Libraries). The seminar can also be held as Twin Seminars in Surabaya and
Jakarta to provide greater exposure in the media and society.

1. Educate the Indonesian society on issues pertaining democracy, which is – and should
– not limited to democratic general elections.
2. Initiating a national discourse in Indonesian society that libraries – in collaboration
with the media – can play their vital roles as the fourth pillar of democracy
3. Initiating a national discourse among Indonesian libraries and librarians regarding a
common platform for asserting their roles in Indonesian democracy.
4. Increase the profile of Indonesian libraries in Indonesian society

Date & Venue
1. June 17, 2009– Petra Christian University, Surabaya
2. June 18, 2009 – University of Indonesia, Jakarta

Liauw Toong Tjiek (Aditya Nugraha)
Head of Library – Petra Christian University

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