Democracy, recognised as a flawed but desirable system of government, relies ultimately on trusting the people, whose views are therefore of prime importance. Their views therefore need to be well informed if democracy is to work successfully. The main formers of opinion, television and the press, commonly distort or over‐simplify issues such as crime and asylum. There is plenty of reliable information available; the problem is that most people are not equipped intellectually or psychologically to desire information, to access it, to challenge it and to discriminate between good and bad. Development of such characteristics is a task for the education system; narrow “information literacy” programmes are not enough. Libraries, as resources and channels of information, are essential elements in the provision of a wide range of knowledge and opinion.
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