Are We Overlooking a Powerful Engine for Social & Economic Change?

A one-page infographic outlining how libraries can contribute to social and economic development.

Public libraries are often overlooked as development partners, even though they’re locally-based, sustainable, publicly funded, professionally staffed, and trusted by the communities they serve. More than 230,000 public libraries — 73% of the world’s total — are located in developing and transitioning countries. Worldwide there are 13 times more public libraries than hospitals.

At a time of tight development budgets, investing in new infrastructure and unproven models is risky — working with libraries offers a better, smarter way of doing development. Funders can capitalize on the results that these local institutions have already produced in their own communities, focusing on creating economies of scale and scope.

Libraries advance development by doing more than enabling access to information. They are safe and supportive environments that often provide services to vulnerable populations — such as youth and women — and that have played an important role in advancing skills and literacies, solving problems, and strengthening communities.

Beyond Access Infographic