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Some people eat, sleep and chew gum, I do genealogy and write...

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Guardian of research resources -- The International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions

The International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions or IFLA characterizes itself as the "global voice of the library and information profession." The Genealogical and Local History Section of the IFLA has as its scope:
Our mission is to be a voice for genealogy and local history librarians in the international information community, to facilitate networking among subject specialists and libraries, archives, museums, and related societies and institutions, and to encourage the development of genealogy and local history collections and user services.
The IFLA "affirms that free access to information and freedom of expression are principles which apply not only to present matters but to the personal and private raw materials of the historical record, which may be guarded in the short term against disclosure or debate, but must be preserved and made available in the long result of time as part of our common heritage." See IFLA Statement on Access to Personally Identifiable Information in Historical Records.

IFLA acknowledges that the there is a "deeply felt human need for identity that can be clarified and affirmed through family and community connection." However, there is a real concern about the issues of privacy.  The statement goes on to say,
Concerns about identity theft and terrorism, and the developing law and jurisprudence of privacy are tending to encourage governments and archive repositories to impose restrictions on access to files containing personally identifiable information, and even to destroy records of this kind. IFLA accepts the necessity for protection of the privacy of living persons, for business confidentiality and for government information security insofar as these valid goals do not conflict with a higher public good. However, perpetual closure or destruction of records containing personally identifiable information, even in the name of privacy, commercial confidentiality or security concerns, is in the last analysis a pernicious form of censorship.
The IFLA appears to be one of the potentially influential forces for increasing access to genealogically valuable source records.

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