In Canada, libraries are viewed as cultural institutions and it is expected
that the government will fund library service for the public good. In this view,
libraries are not seen as being in competition with other organizations that
provide service. Libraries are believed to serve a societal function in
the promotion of literacy and in the provision of fair, equitable access to
information. Under GATS, libraries are seen as a service 'industry' and are being
scrutinized for possible liberalization. This point of view sees only the service
outcomes of libraries and does not consider the social values of these organizations.
Governments have historically faced
challenges in negotiating protection of cultural industries in trade agreements,
but such protection is highly valued among many countries.
Goff notes that governments
"willingly open the territorial borders
of the state in order to reap the economic reward that accompanies participation
in a global marketplace. Nevertheless, they resist the concomitant cultural
homogenization--the dilution of national identity--by simultaneously fortifying
the nation. States are responding to globalization by attempting to restore
meaning to national borders, not as barriers to entry, but as boundaries
demarcating distinct political communities."
This attempt to increase trade but to spare cultural industries from
liberalization is an issue in the GATS negotiations and during the Uruguay
Rounds, the heated debate between the American and the European Union (EU)
over a cultural exception for the audiovisual industry under GATS, threatened
to undo the entire agreement (Goff, 534).