Right to information, role of libraries

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Abid Hussain

INFORMATION is a great source of mind mapping, decision making, problem-solving, and knowledge updating. The Webster dictionary defines that “Information plays an important role to achieve the goals and objectives of society.” It is said that since ancient times, Information has been recognized as of vital importance for the development of economic, political, social, and environmental activities. For each Information accessed could be granted to the public, and there should be rights of access to common people. For this, the first act was introduced in 1766 in Sweden. The purpose of this act was to grant free access to the Information by common people.

There are numerous terms used for access to Information, such as the Right to Information (RTI), right of access to Information (RAI), freedom of Information (FOI). These rights are for the people of any country who can retrieve Information from the government departments in prescribed ways. Right of access to Information is the act of human right and a fundamental right for the people who can retrieve Information for understandings. Right of access to Information is playing a pivotal role in empowering the people of states to promote democracy, accountability, and transparency in government organizations.
In 2019, there were one hundred and forty- five developing and developed countries in the world that recognized this right (Global Right to Information Rating, 2018, 2019). In Pakistan, the history of acknowledgement right started in 2000 by promulgating the Freedom of Information Ordinance (FIO). Whereas the Provincial Assembly of Baluchistan acknowledged this right in 2005, the Sindh Provincial Assembly recognized the same right in 2006, the Punjab province and KPK provinces passed the right of information bill in 2013.

All five Acts on “right of access to information” in Pakistan the provision of the “right of access to information, “has positive gesture among researchers. For provision such information there is extreme need to provide a good information service by designated, trained, and expert information professionals monitor their information services. Moreover, these Acts elaborated that PIOs are supposed to provide Information in time and accurately. It is important to offer citizens the right of access to Information (RAI); simultaneously, it is important to ensure the information service quality under the Right of Access to Information (RAI) . User’s perceptions about products, services, and experiences value a lot.

Information service is divided into four units: (1) information providing services, (2) information retrieving services, (3) information individual services, and (4) information organization services. Both types (information providers and seekers) of respondents highlighted that there was an extreme need of: (1) utilizing information communication technologies in the Information provision services and information organization services as well, (2) regular annual reports about information services must be published by the government bodies, (3) there must be proactive disclosure of Information that relevant to citizens of Pakistan under the law, (4) list down the exempted Information in detail to avoid any ambiguities in information provision service, and (5) there was an extreme need to publish all relevant facts, important policies, and decisions of government organizations on its website. There is a simple formula which equates the library with the concept of freedom of Information. Modern libraries are an agent of the provision of information resources and services. It has universally been recognized that libraries are agents of freedom of Information, especially national libraries.

The freedom of Information in the libraries is different from libraries to libraries for many reasons, as we know that in modern democratic society, freedom of information has central principles . So, we should know how it functions. In second aspect it should be noticed that what should realistically be claimed for libraries and what is best perceived as unhelpful rhetoric. Modern Libraries are well-stocked, but, given that the stock of libraries is usually the result of a selection process, we should confirm from the information providers how to make this Information effective to help the people find the right Information.
—The writer is working as Library Officer in Institute of Strategic Studies, a think-think based in Islamabad.