Libraries are essential tools for the democratization of culture and knowledge. They undeniably favor information, education, development, social integration and success of individuals, while being formidable levers of cultural, social and economic development for the communities they aim to serve. Reflecting on the libraries’ essential lifelong contribution, in 2014 the project to prepare the Declaration of Quebec Libraries was born. In accordance with the UNESCO Public Library Manifesto, the Declaration first evokes that the purpose of a library is to ensure "free and unlimited access to knowledge, thought, culture and information".
The idea of a Declaration on libraries was born within the Table permanente de concertation des bibliothèques québécoises, established by the Minister of Culture and Communications of Quebec, in 2002. The Table includes the representatives of 12 library-related organizations and departments. Its members are the representatives of more than 4000 libraries situated throughout the Quebec region. These include public libraries, university, colleges, secondary and primary schools libraries, and libraries related to work-place, including legal, governmental, and medical libraries. All of them are contributing to the learning and education of citizens and to the promotion of free and universal access to knowledge, which directly relates to many objectives of the UNESCO Sustainable Development Programme, adopted in 2015.
At the end of the drafting and consultation stages within the library community, the members of the Table unanimously adopted the unifying text of the Declaration of Quebec Libraries. A broad media awareness campaign, aimed at engaging decision-makers and the public, followed the submission of the Declaration to the National Assembly of Québec on 19 October 2016, by the Minister of Culture and Communications and the Minister in charge of the Protection and Promotion of the French Language, Mr. Luc Fortin.
Twenty-eight Québec eminent personalities from different fields (business, sports, health, arts, culture, etc.) decided to support this initiative. Their testimonies on the important contribution of libraries in their respective lives and to the overall development of society are available on the website: mabibliothequejyvais.com.
UNESCO strongly supports the role of libraries in ensuring greater accessibility to information and knowledge sharing, thus contributing to building inclusive knowledge societies and sustainable communities.