Kay Mathiesen
Northeastern University
In this “global information age” accessing, disseminating, and controlling information is an increasingly important aspect of human life. Often these interests are expressed in the language of human rights—e.g., rights to expression, privacy, and intellectual property. As the discipline concerned with, “Facilitating the effective communication of desired information between human generator and human user” (Belkin, 1975, 22), Library and Information Science (LIS) has a central role in facilitating communication about human rights and ensuring the respect for human rights in information services and systems. This paper surveys the literature at the intersection of LIS and human rights. To begin, an overview of human rights conventions and an introduction to human rights theory is provided. Then the intersections between LIS and human rights are considered. Three central areas of informational human rights—communication, privacy, and intellectual property—are discussed in detail. It is argued that communication rights in particular serve as a central linchpin in the system of human rights.
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