What is the Right To Know?
The right to know is a fundamental principle in Canada. It is enshrined in the Access to Information Act and it ensures that Canadian citizens have access to information about their government and its activities. It also allows Canadians to hold their government accountable and participate fully in our democracy.
What is the International Day for Universal Access to Information/Right To Know Week?
The United Nations’ (UN) International Day for Universal Access to Information and Right To Know Week are observed around September 28 every year. These two closely related events promote the right of citizens to access information held by public bodies. They also raise awareness about issues such as freedom of information, open government, and access to public services and encourage people to use their right to access information.
What is the role of UVic Libraries in exercising the Right to Know and Universal Access to Information?
Libraries of all types play a vital role in ensuring that everyone has access to information. They provide a safe and inclusive space for people to learn, explore, and discover. Libraries also offer a range of services that can help people exercise their right to access information.
UVic Libraries provides its stakeholders on- and off-campus (students, faculty, and the wider community) with essential information around the right to know. Not only does UVic Libraries provide free and comprehensive access to its holdings and services beyond the campus community to all members of the public. It also makes an important contribution as a regional memory institution by preserving and providing access to relevant materials on local and regional history in its collections. This involves preserving and indexing traditional library holdings and archival materials but also systematically archiving websites that have local community relevance.
Resources provided by UVic Libraries to help exercise one’s right to know
Subject-based LibGuides – detailed resources developed and maintained by UVic librarians – were created specifically to educate the campus community as well as the wider public about pathways to information around their civil rights, government activities, the history of democracy, Indigenous governance, and other related topics.
Please visit our LibGuides on British Columbian and Canadian Government Information, including knowledge around open government and access to information and freedom of information requests (Contact: David Boudinot).
Additional LibGuides with a focus on the right to know developed by librarians at the UVic Law Library provide information on A Legal History of the Right to Vote, Constitutional Law in Canada, Legal Information Services in Victoria, Indigenous Law / Indigenous Legal Traditions, including by the Coast Salish peoples, and Municipal Law, with a focus on British Columbian municipalities (Contact: Emily Nickerson and Jessie Lampreau).
These library-curated resources contribute to exercising the right to know and universal access to information and are a good example of how core values and ideas of open scholarship – transparency, accessibility, openness – can have an impact beyond the scholarly community.
Uvic Libraries’ contribution to providing universal access to information and supporting the right to know is guided by its Strategic Directions 2018-2023, which emphasize its role in:
- providing differentiated approaches to […] digital citizenship, and the critical and creative inquiry skills needed to navigate complex, information-rich environments in order to nurture adaptable, resilient, life-long learners
- providing experiential learning opportunities for students and the broader community
- investing in preservation expertise, infrastructure, and partnerships in order to provide sustainable access to knowledge
Universal Access to Information in the UN’s 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development
Both the University of Victoria and UVic Libraries support the adoption of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and its goals. Ensuring public access to information is one of the targets of the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). SDG 16, Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions declares to “Ensure public access to information and protect fundamental freedoms, in accordance with national legislation and international agreements” as its target 16.10.
By providing the above-mentioned services and resources around universal access to information, UVic Libraries contributes to the implementation of the UN 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.