European library conference debates Marrakesh
Lithuanian Library for the Blind celebrates 50th anniversary with ‘Libraries for an inclusive society’ conference in Vilnius

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Group of delegates in front of screen with name of conference
Delegates to the ‘Libraries for an inclusive society’ conference in Vilnius, Lithuania.

Over 90 people from 12 countries attended the Lithuanian Library for the Blind’s  ‘Libraries for an inclusive society’ conference in Vilnius, Lithuania.

The two-day conference (24 - 25 October 2016) celebrated the library’s 50th anniversary. Delegates included public, academic and special librarians, policy-makers, researchers and professionals at institutions serving people with disabilities.
The conference aimed to encourage dialogue on development of inclusive library services in Lithuania and across the country’s borders in order to realize the full potential of people with disabilities to take part in social, cultural and economic life.
The second day of the conference was devoted to discussion of the Marrakesh Treaty for persons with print disabilities, making ‘Libraries for an inclusive society’ the first library conference in Europe to feature the treaty.
The opening address was given by the Lithuanian Minister of Culture, Mr Šarūnas Birutis, on 24 October.


A keynote presentation by Victoria Owen, Chief Librarian at the University of Toronto Scarborough, described moving from policy to practice through implementation of the Marrakesh Treaty and making accessible books available.

The key message in the presentation was that robust international exchange of accessible books needs more countries to join the Marrakesh Treaty. Owen stressed that librarians need to work in an advocacy role to champion the Treaty, and to claim their new statutory rights as authorized entities under the Treaty.

The presentation was followed by a panel discussion on national perspectives in the Marrakesh Treaty from Latvia, Estonia, Lithuania and Canada, and a practical illustration of audio-description services (sound commentary that describes body language, expressions and movements, making television, video programmes or live performances clear to blind and visually impaired people).

Launch of EIFL Marrakesh Treaty guide in Lithuanian

The first resource in Lithuanian on the Marrakesh Treaty was launched in the run-up to the conference. The EIFL Guide to the Marrakesh Treaty was translated into Lithuanian (The guide has now been translated into five languages. All the languages are available online here.)
EIFL would like to thank the Lithuanian Library for the Blind for kindly organizing the translation, and the Ministry of Culture for supporting its publication.


The conference provided a timely opportunity for librarians to work together to prepare a response to a public consultation in which the Lithuanian Ministry of Culture was seeking views of stakeholders on European Commission (EC) proposals to implement the Marrakesh Treaty in the European Union (EU).

Six major library groups filed a joint submission which broadly welcomed the Commission’s proposals, but opposed the EC’s proposed requirements on record-keeping. The groups that responded were the Lithuanian Library for the Blind, the National Library of Lithuania, the Lithuanian Librarians' Association, the Lithuanian Research Library Consortium, the Lithuanian Association of Research Libraries, the Association of County Public Libraries, and the Association of Municipal Public Libraries.
The three main points of the library submission were:
  • It welcomed exclusion of additional barriers, such as compensation schemes, or the need to check the availability on the market of the requested item before an accessible format copy may be made. Ruling out such barriers helps to ensure that the objective of the Treaty, which is to maximize the availability of copyright-protected works in accessible formats, is respected.
  • It welcomed the European Commission’s proposal to prepare a short report assessing the situation of persons with other disabilities, for example, deaf people, two years after Marrakesh legislation comes into effect. Libraries should be able to serve all their users equally, regardless of disability, and the report would consider whether the legislation needed to be amended to include persons with other disabilities.  The EC proposal supports Lithuania’s obligations under the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD).
  • It expressed concern that EC proposals on record keeping could threaten the Treaty’s effective operation. Proposed record keeping requirements for cross-border transfer of accessible formats from libraries in the EU to countries outside the EU exceed what is required under the Treaty. Libraries in Lithuania called on the Ministry of Culture to support the record keeping provisions set out in the Marrakesh Treaty, since these were already negotiated and agreed upon by the EU (which includes Lithuania).

Read the full library response here (in Lithuanian).



The ‘Libraries for an inclusive society’ conference was organized by the Lithuanian Library for the Blind. Special thanks to Zinaida Manzuch for organization, documentation and logistics.

The conference was sponsored by the Ministry of Culture of the Republic of Lithuania, the Lithuanian Council for Culture, and Library Year 2016.
The conference partners were EIFL and the Latvian Library Association ( EIFL advised on the programme development. The conference programme is here.

Read more about EIFL’s work on the Marrakesh Treaty for persons with print disabilities.