PURPOSE : Libraries of all types have often been called on to take on challenges ranging from information literacy and developing a reading culture to promoting social justice. In recent literature they have been challenged to contribute to the development of informed and educated nations – a big issue in developing countries. Sometimes even to empower people. The purpose of this paper is to raise awareness for this call as important for developing as well as developed nations and the numerous issues, role players and lenses they need to bear in mind. As an opinion piece it can merely scratch the surface of raising awareness.
DESIGN / METHODOLOGY / APPROACH : This contribution builds on the literature of library and information science, education and politics to present an exploratory viewpoint and a nascent model to support further work. It intentionally touches on a diversity of issues that may seem at odds with each
other, but that in the opinion reflect the enormous scope to address and diversity of individual,institutional and global input and lenses that can make a difference.
FINDINGS : Many obvious approaches to achieve the object of an informed and educated nation with empowered individuals can be noted such as focusing on information literacy, digital literacy and information fluency. However more awareness is required of the need to take a holistic view of issues to focus on such as tolerance and ethics, and the information behaviour and information
practices of people in various contexts, and how changes in the awareness of needs to address and the need to seek information and support from diverse sources, can contribute. A first step would be to note the diversity that might contribute towards a holistic view of a global problem to which libraries can contribute. ORIGINALITY / VALUE : There are limited publications on the topic in the library and information science literature although “developing an informed and educated nation” features in the mission and vision plans of some countries, and empowerment is sometimes specifically noted in publications on user
education and information literacy. This paper offers an exploratory viewpoint to raise awareness to consider various approaches and threads to the topic and to not think only in terms of education and information literacy, but to recognise the full role libraries and librarians can play – also in reaching out to other role players such as users, governments and grant providers.