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General Agreement on Trade in Services: 
A Resource for Librarians


What is GATS?

History of GATS

Present of GATS

GATS &  Gov't Services

WTO &  Gov't Services

Application of Regulations

Libraries as a Cultural Industry

Protecting Culture

Concerns for Libraries


Works Cited



The GATS is a trade treaty, which may effect service sectors in Canada that have not traditionally been involved in the trade of services in any way. Publicly funded libraries are vulnerable under this agreement to the imposition of restrictions on the services offered or the mandatory withdrawal of public funding if their services are found to be in competition with other service providers. Canada's commitments in the communication sector which include service in online information and database retrieval, electronic data interchange, and online information and/or data processing, is particularly troubling for libraries as providing access to the Internet and online databases has become a central function of libraries in the past 10 years. Under the GATS, it is possible that the Canadian government will not be able to argue that the provision of all library services is a function provided in the exercise of government authority because these services are provided by private for-profit companies. The underlying problem for libraries with the GATS is that libraries are not present in the minds of negotiators and the concerns of libraries are not considered when negotiations take place. Library advocates must be extremely active in speaking with governments about their concerns and pointing out areas where library services coincide with GATS obligations. Although governments are aware of the ramifications of their commitments in service sectors to large corporations, librarians must educate them about what those commitments will mean for libraries and library services around the world.

Site created by Sandra Anderson in April, 2003 as part of
LIS 583 - Globalization, Diversity and Information, a course offered at the
School of Library and Information Studies at the University of Alberta.
Please send all feedback about this site to Sandra Anderson