The GATS and Libraries

This web page provides links to readings about the likely impact on libraries of the General Agreement on Trade in Services (GATS), which is modified, renegotiated, and entered into by national governments at meetings of the WTO.

Click here for general GATS basics



Recent additions

"COUNCIL ON HIGHER EDUCATION - FIRST BIBLIOGRAPHY ON THE GENERAL AGREEMENT ON TRADE AND SERVICES (GATS) AND HIGHER EDUCATION"... Produced in terms of the April 2004 Association of African Universities Accra Declaration on GATS and the Internationalization of Higher Education in Africa July 2004 (DOC)
http://www.libr.org/GATS/BibOnGatsHigherEd.doc

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General articles

"COUNCIL ON HIGHER EDUCATION - FIRST BIBLIOGRAPHY ON THE GENERAL AGREEMENT ON TRADE AND SERVICES (GATS) AND HIGHER EDUCATION"... Produced in terms of the April 2004 Association of African Universities Accra Declaration on GATS and the Internationalization of Higher Education in Africa July 2004 (DOC)
http://www.libr.org/GATS/BibOnGatsHigherEd.doc

"The WTO and the Threat to Libraries", by Fiona Hunt. Published in Progressive Librarian No. 18 and subsequently in Information for Social Change No. 14, a special issue on GATS and libraries. This article is a good introduction to the issues.
http://libr.org/PL/18_Hunt.html

Recent summary of issues and chronology of GATS as it may pertain to libraries, according to the ALA Washington Office. (Word doc.)
http://libr.org/GATS/alawash-GATS-issues-chronology.doc.

Recent article by Fiona Hunt on Article 1, Paragraph 3 of GATS, as it relates to libraries. (pdf)
http://libr.org/GATS/GATS-Article-1-3.pdf

The WTO/GATS Agenda for Libraries, by Ruth Rikowski, presented to the British group Association for the Taxation of financial Transactions for the Aid of Citizens (ATTAC) in 2002.
http://attac.org.uk/attac/html/view-document.vm?documentID=120

The Capitalisation of Libraries, by Ruth Rikowski, published in The Commoner.
http://www.commoner.org.uk/04rikowski.pdf

The Future of Our Libraries, also by Ruth Rikowski and presented to ATTAC in 2002.
http://attac.org.uk/attac/html/view-document.vm?documentID=118

GATS: Private Affluence and Public Squalor? Implications for Libraries and Information, by Ruth Rikowski. An account of a BBC Radio program on the GATS.
http://www.libr.org/Juice/issues/vol4/LJ_4.46.html#7

Information, Commodification and the World Trade Organization, by Steven Shrybman, LLB. Remarks prepared for the IFLA Conference, Jerusalem, August 2000.
http://www.vcn.bc.ca/bcla-ip/globalization/shrybman3.htm

WTO and Libraries - an Introduction, by Frode Bakken, Library of Buskerud, Norway. Another contribution to the 2000 IFLA Conference in Jerusalem. (pdf)
http://www.ifla.org/III/clm/p1/bakken.pdf

Libraries and the WTO, by Paul Whitney, Chief Librarian, Burnaby Public Library, British Columbia, Canada. Another contribution to the 2000 IFLA Conference in Jerusalem. (pdf)
http://www.ifla.org/III/clm/p1/whitney.pdf

"The Commercialisation of Libraries and Archives," by Frode Bakken, presented at the October 18, 2002 conference of the Assembly of European Regions on Globalisation of Culture and Education: WTO and GATS.
http://www.eblida.org/topics/wto/frode_aer.htm

"Librarianship as a Revolutionary Choice," a speech at the Joint American Library Association/Canadian Library Association Conference by Naomi Klein, June 24 2003.
http://www.libr.org/Juice/issues/vol6/LJ_6.16.html#2

"Free trade with library services? - No "all clear" regarding GATS"; Anders Ericson interviews Frode Bakken, President of the Norwegian Library Association; Information for Social Change #17 (Summer 2003).
http://www.libr.org/isc/articles/17-Ericson-Bakken.html

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Detailed analysis

"An Assessment of the Impact of the General Agreement on Trade and Services on Policy, Programs and the Law Concerning Public Sector Libraries", by Steven Shrybman, 2001. 64 p. (pdf - warning: 5.4 MB)
http://www.cla.ca/resources/gats.pdf

"The Corporate Takeover of Libraries", by Ruth Rikowski. Published in Information for Social Change No. 14, a special issue on GATS and libraries.
http://libr.org/ISC/articles/14-Ruth_Rikowski.html

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Back and forth debate

In September, 2001, American Libraries published an article by Fiona Hunt titled "Why the World Trade Organization is a Threat to Libraries." In December they published a rebuttal from ALA's Washington Office, as a letter to the editor. Fiona's response to that letter, which American Libraries did not publish, is included in this document.
http://libr.org/GATS/Hunt-Sheketoff.html

"WTO as a threat to public libraries - a Swedish perspective", an article from the journal BiS (Bibliotek i Samhälle), plus responses from Swedish officials, and a response to them by the original author.
http://libr.org/GATS/Swedish.html

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Official statements

"EBLIDA response to the EC consultation on WTO members' requests to the EC and its member states for improved market access to services," January, 2003.
http://www.eblida.org/topics/wto/ecconsult_jan03.htm

November 19, 2002 press releaes from EBLIDA (European Bureau of Library, Information and Documentation Associations) on "The threat to publicly funded services - libraries and the WTO."
http://www.eblida.org/press_releases/pr_19nov02.htm

EBLIDA statement on the WTO GATS negotiations: Libraries and trade in services, November 2002
http://www.eblida.org/topics/wto/statementnov02.htm

The British Columbia Library Association report, "GATS and the Threat to Libraries"
http://www.vcn.bc.ca/bcla-ip/globalization/gats.htm

The subsequent Canadian Library Association statement on the WTO
http://www.cla.ca/about/wto.htm

The subsequent IFLA position paper
http://www.ifla.org/III//clm/p1/wto-ifla.htm

The subsequent ALA Resolution on the WTO and Libraries, passed at the ALA midwinter meeting 2000.
http://libr.org/GATS/GATSresol.pdf

The ALA Washington Office on GATS & Libraries
http://www.ala.org/washoff/gats.html

May 16, 2002 letter from then ALA President John W. Berry to U.S. Trade Representative Robert B. Zoellick
http://www.ala.org/washoff/berryltr051602.html

ALA Washington Office's formal comments to USTR Zoellick, May 17, 2002
http://www.ala.org/washoff/wo_comsdoha.html

and Zoellick's response
http://www.ala.org/washoff/zoellickltr.pdf

July 19, 2002 letter from ALA President Mitch Freedman to USTR Zoellick.
http://www.ala.org/washoff/ustrletter.pdf

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Other related collections

A collection of documents from the British Columbia Library Association.
http://www.vcn.bc.ca/bcla-ip/globalization/index.html

A collection of resources from the Canadian Library Association.
http://www.cla.ca/resources/gats_resources.htm

EBLIDA - World trade policies and services - The European Bureau of Library, Information and Documentation Associations page on the WTO/GATS.
http://www.eblida.org/topics/wto/wto.htm

The International Responsibilities Task Force of the Social Responsibilities Round Table of the American Library Association has a resource page on "Libraries and the WTO."
http://www.pitt.edu/~ttwiss/irtf/wto.html

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Last updated July 2004. Rory Litwin, webmaster.