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Libraries and open society; Popper, Soros and digital information

Robinson, L. & Bawden, D. (2001). Libraries and open society; Popper, Soros and digital information. Aslib Proceedings, 53(5), pp. 167-178. doi: 10.1108/eum0000000007051


This paper examines the role of libraries and information services, in promoting the ‘open society’ espoused by Karl Popper and George Soros. After a brief discussion of the nature of an ‘open society’, the paper covers the role played by provision of knowledge and information, of new technology, particularly the Internet, and of critical thinking and digital literacy in the development of this form of society. Conclusions are drawn for the role of libraries and librarians, with seven general principles suggested:

• provision of access to a wide variety of sources without ‘negative’ restriction or censorship

• provision of ‘positive’ guidance on sources, based on open and objective criteria

• a recognition that a ‘free flow of information’ though essential, is not sufficient

• a recognition that provision of factual information, while valuable, is not enough

• a need for a specific concern for the effect of new ICTs, and the Internet in particular

• promotion of critical thinking and digital literacy

• a need for explicit consideration of the ethical values of libraries

Publication Type: Article
Publisher Keywords: Science & Technology, Technology, Computer Science, Information Systems, Information Science & Library Science, Computer Science, COMPUTER SCIENCE, INFORMATION SYSTEMS, INFORMATION SCIENCE & LIBRARY SCIENCE, INTERNET, LITERACY
Subjects: Z Bibliography. Library Science. Information Resources > Z665 Library Science. Information Science
Departments: School of Science & Technology > Computer Science
SWORD Depositor:
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