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Title:Examining the relationship between law libraries and democracy in transitional states — a case study of the republic of Rwanda
Author(s):Anderson, Brian
Advisor(s):Smith, Linda C.
Department / Program:Library & Information Science
Discipline:Library & Information Science
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Subject(s):Libraries and democracy
Law libraries
Transitional states
Abstract:Democracy is now recognized as the preferred form of governance in the world. With its rise from the foundation of the United States and growth throughout the world, most recently with the fall of the Soviet Union, democratic governance is the cornerstone for the majority of governments worldwide. Three key elements emerge as essential to democratic governance: transparency, accessibility, and accountability. A democratic government must be transparent in that it allows citizens and active civil society participants to see into the halls of government. It must allow access to laws—and preferably the lawmaking process—to grant citizens an opportunity to scrutinize government actions. Finally, there must be a mechanism for citizens to hold government actors accountable for these actions, if necessary. With these processes in mind, lawmakers, scholars and development professionals for decades have sought to define what institutions can best support transparency, accessibility, and accountability in government. One of these institutions—libraries—has gained support among information professionals and governance expertise alike as ideal for supporting the access principle of democratic government. Focusing on access, public libraries have long been held as institutions that have a wide-reaching effect on providing information to citizens regardless of socio-economic status, and are well-suited to promote accessibility and therefore democracy. Little has been written, however, about the important relationship between law libraries and democracy. These special libraries serve a similar but more narrowly defined mission in the democratic sphere: providing access specifically to that information necessary for scrutiny of government action. Especially in developing democracies—those states transitioning from an authoritarian to democratic form of government—law libraries can play a significant role to promote and uphold the access principle of democracy. Law libraries collect precisely the information necessary to scrutinize government actors: records of lawmaking, administrative rules and decisions, government reports, and of course the laws themselves. In addition to the general public, law libraries also serve constituent groups important to governance, such as lawyers, judges, and lawmakers. Providing competent collections and research assistance for these groups strengthens good governance in its own ways as well. This thesis seeks to clarify the relationship between libraries and democracy, and how it specifically supports the access principle of democratic governance. It particularly seeks to highlight this relationship between law libraries and democracy, and that role in developing and transitional states. Finally, it applies this analysis to a field investigation conducted in the Republic of Rwanda in June 2013, which sought to understand the role of law libraries in the developing democratic state.
Issue Date:2014-01-16
Rights Information:Copyright 2013 Brian D. Anderson
Date Available in IDEALS:2014-01-16
Date Deposited:2013-12

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