New Delhi, 18 Jan. 05: Lok Sabha Speaker Shri Somnath Chatterjee today stated that the right to know and the right to information are crucial factors in a successful democratic system. An informed parliamentarian can be of immense help in the emergence of an informed democracy and an informed electorate can strengthen the edifice of democracy, he asserted.

Inaugurating the 8th biennial conference of the Association of Parliamentary Librarians of Asia and the Pacific (APLAP) in the Parliament House Annexe today, Shri Chatterjee observed that the emergence of democracy as the most preferred and accepted system of governance across the world and the revolutionary growth in the field of Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) are the most remarkable developments of the last quarter of the previous century. Information is seen as the greatest source of power in today’s world, he added.

Being the repositories of knowledge and wisdom, Libraries, especially Parliament Libraries, have to become integral parts of democratic societies. If properly utilized, they can be turned into great assets to the citizens by helping their representatives to participate more effectively in the democratic processes and in making informed decisions on matters of policy and administration, Shri Chatterjee said. The focus should be on the networking of the library and the professional excellence of the information managers and access to information rather than on the traditional method of acquisition and collection of the sources which contained such information. In this context, it is of utmost importance that the Parliament Libraries are well connected and resources are shared, the Speaker emphasised. The age of ‘Paperless Libraries’ does not appear too far, Shri Chatterjee remarked.

The inaugural session of the 5 day conference was also addressed by the Deputy Speaker, Lok Sabha Shri Charnjit Singh Atwal and Secretary General, Lok Sabha Shri G. C. Malhotra. Earlier, Shri R.C. Ahuja, President, APLAP, welcomed the delegates while Ms.Roslynn Membrey, Secretary, APLAP, offered vote of thanks. A minute’s silence was observed in the memory of victims of the killer Tsunami at the beginning of the conference.

Three theme sessions on "Changing dimensions of Parliamentary Library and Information services in the third millennium", "Research and reference services for members" and "Library services for members" will form part of this conference. About 40 delegates and 30 observers from 16 member countries of APLAP and various state legislative bodies of the country are taking part in the conference.