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In Constraining Public Libraries: The World Trade Organization's General Agreement on Trade in Services, the authors present a compelling argument for why the library community should be concerned about the effect of international trade agreements on the ability to deliver library and information services to the public. The book begins with a rigorous yet succinct description of the relevant provisions of the General Agreement on Trade in Services (GATS), proceeds to discuss how it is likely to impact particular ...
In Constraining Public Libraries: The World Trade Organization's General Agreement on Trade in Services, the authors present a compelling argument for why the library community should be concerned about the effect of international trade agreements on the ability to deliver library and information services to the public. The book begins with a rigorous yet succinct description of the relevant provisions of the General Agreement on Trade in Services (GATS), proceeds to discuss how it is likely to impact particular public library services, and then discusses how the library community could best respond to these challenges. While there cannot be certainty when considering how GATS will ultimately impinge upon public libraries, this book pinpoints potential problem areas. It is a valuable tool in informing the dialogue within public libraries on the World Trade Organization, and providing the foundation for effective advocacy at the domestic and international levels to ensure that public libraries continue to play a central role in their communities for generations to come. Those in library and information science, as well as public administrators, educators, students, political and policy science professionals, government officials, and trade negotiators, will find this book to be an informative resource.
In this detailed, carefully argued caution to the library community, especially public libraries and others supported by government funding, two colleagues at the University of Western Ontario's Faculty of Information & Media Studies urge library leaders to take protective action to ward off the potential negative impact of the World Trade Organization's General Agreement on Trade Services (GATS) on the ability of libraries to provide information services to the public. The authors clearly explain GATS provisions that could raise possible challenges to public sector libraries. Solid, extensively documented chapters spell out how libraries operate "on a commercial basis" and why it is a matter of concern, noting why privatization and outsourcing of library functions could lead to GATS trouble. The authors also warn about the dangers in the use of corporate-style titles and language in describing library activities along with the application of business models such as fees for service. An excellent chapter details the ways libraries can organize and administer their services to avoid or prevent possible GATS challenges and difficulties. Some readers will find this book alarmist and its detailed enumeration of the possible dangers to libraries from GATS to be unrealistic or at least unlikely. This reviewer doesn't agree, however, and believes this is a timely and useful warning. Beyond that, it provides an increasingly rare and thoughtful discussion of certain aspects of library management, such as the tendency toward privatization, to which the profession should pay more attention.
Part 1 Foreword Part 2 Preface Chapter 3 1. Introduction: What Has GATS Got to Do with Libraries? Chapter 4 2. The Scope of GATS Coverage Chapter 5 3. The GATS Disciplines: Classification and Commitment of Services Chapter 6 4. Do Public Libraries Operate on a Commercial Basis and Compete with Other Service Suppliers? Chapter 7 5. The Perils of Privatization: Commericialization and Privatization of Public Libraries and Library Services Chapter 8 6. Avoiding the Negative Impacts of Trade in Services Chapter 9 7. Advocacy for Public Libraries Chapter 10 8. International Trade Policy as Information Policy Part 11 Appendix A: Pertinent Sections of the GATS Agreement Part 12 Appendix B: Pertinent Sections of the WTO Dispute Settlement Understanding (DSU) Part 13 Appendix C: The IFLA Position on the World Trade Organization (2001) Part 14 Appendix D: Canadian Library Association Letter to Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade Part 15 GATS Glossary Part 16 Bibliography Part 17 Index Part 18 About the Authors