Libraries around the world are already meeting many of their communities’ social and economic development needs. But they have the potential to do even more – with the right support from local institutions, governments, and donors.
Through the Beyond Access project, IREX aims to expand the role of libraries in meeting community needs – whether in access to information, literacy, or livelihoods. We work with governments, NGOs, and the private sector in eight countries to make all libraries hubs for economic and social change.
IREX believes that access to information is a public good. Most countries around the world – regardless of their size or level of development – have public libraries that provide sustainable access to information to everyone, no matter their background, income, or education. In eight of these countries, IREX’s Beyond Access project is working with local partners to make an inclusive information society a reality.
Beyond Access is implemented by IREX with support from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.
Access to information: We partner with governments, NGOs and the private sector to maximize existing resources and extend inclusive access to information and technology to those who need it most. With our partners in eight countries, we provide guidance, matching funds, and training to make sure everyone can participate in the 21st-century information society. We do this by working with community hubs like libraries.
Literacy: We know that everyone needs basic skills in traditional and digital literacy in order to maximize the opportunities that information access brings. Through our partnerships with governments and experts in literacy, community engagement, and technology, we work with trusted community partners to make sure everyone can build the skills they need to improve their lives. We do this by mobilizing communities to drive local support for reading and literacy outside of schools.
Livelihoods: We help governments and the private sector connect their existing workforce development initiatives to the people who stand to benefit the most. At the same time, we help existing information hubs provide new services — like job and digital skills training — to their communities. Employment needs change over time, so we work with partners who will reassess and adapt over the long haul.