Accessing government public information through community libraries in Namibia
The first phase of the pilot project, Access to Government Public Information through Community Libraries, has been concluded in Namibia. This project is being implemented by the National Archives of Namibia under its mandate to preserve all government publications, in collaboration with the Namibia Library and Information Council (NLIC), and UNESCO.
The first phase of the project involved the collection of governmental public domain information to be converted into PDF files, and its dissemination and distribution to community libraries. Users in libraries would thus have access to the full-text documents via a model database and a structured repository database.
The installation of a pilot copy of the digital library at the Windhoek Community Library and training of local staff are planned under the second phase of the project. During the third phase the data will be made available to the Oshakati Community Library (Oshana Region); the fourth and final phase of the project will consist in duplicating this model of access to governmental public domain information in each of the 13 regions of Namibia.
The importance of free and easy access to government information for the economic and social development of a country has been recognized by the Namibian Government in various national development plans. The current project is part of the implementation strategy of the e-Governance Policy for the Public Service in Namibia, adopted in 2005, which envisages the provision of electronic information via government websites.
UNESCO supports this project as part of its mandate to promote access to information and knowledge aimed at building inclusive knowledge societies through information and communication. As described in <a href="ev.php?URL_ID=15862&URL_DO=DO_TOPIC&URL_SECTION=201">UNESCO's Policy Guidelines for the Development and Promotion of Governmental Public Domain Information</a>, free and easy access to information is of great importance in terms of transparency of governance, promotion of democratic ideals and general social welfare.
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