Good morning everyone. Prime Minister Mustafa, Director Gajraku, Chairman Hamiti, thank you very much for this kind award. It is our pleasure to be a supporter of libraries across Kosovo, and it is my pleasure to help kick-off the 15th edition of Library Week in Kosovo.
Before I begin, I would like to thank you, the National Library, and all of the librarians, writers, publishers and students present here today, for the great work that you are doing to engage your communities, to promote reading, to assist in research, and much more. I think you’ve heard me say before that the best libraries in the United States are really community centers– more than just stacks of books and internet connections, but also hubs for social services and engaging activities. I am impressed by the work that each of you is doing to support the needs of your communities, and I encourage you to continue and expand these efforts.
Today, I want to touch broadly on two issues related to your Library Week themes this year.
The first one is the importance of the protection of intellectual property rights and copyright to the economic development of Kosovo. Simply put, the protection of IPR and copyright is critical to the development of an innovative knowledge economy. IPR is recognized as a fundamental human right in the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights. It is an essential part of creating a welcoming environment for foreign investment and, equally important, it protects the innovation and creativity of Kosovo’s artists and entrepreneurs.
Kosovo is a small market, so it has largely been able to fly under the global radar on IPR issues. But when I visit big stores here, I often see a mix of counterfeit and legitimate goods. Kosovo needs to get to the point where counterfeit goods are the exception, not the norm. The Task Force Against Piracy is already doing some good work, but I want to see them maintain focus and vigilance—and I want to see more actors involved in this issue.
As you will hear this week from Kyle Courtney, a U.S. expert on copyright and IPR at Harvard University– and also a librarian—you, too, can play a crucial role in creating an environment where the protection of intellectual property rights is a priority.
As Kosovo expands its ties to global markets—economic, cultural and literary– we will need all of you to support efforts to step up enforcement and monitoring of counterfeit goods and property rights.
The other issue I want to address is academic integrity in the academic setting.
Academic integrity is the core of academia. Maintaining academic standards, rigor in research and publishing, is essential to the development of a world-class education system. It is a moral issue, and it is an ethical issue. Plagiarism in the classroom—from students to faculty members—is a cancer that destroys the foundations and the credibility of educational institutions. I urge Kosovo’s academic institutions to work harder on this issue. To ensure the quality of education, and shape the behaviors of graduates when entering the job market, you must take this issue seriously. And once again, libraries play a critical role in promoting and protecting this academic integrity. I hope many of you, inside and outside of academia, will participate in Kyle Courtney’s presentations on academic integrity at the University of Pristina on Wednesday, the University of Peja on Thursday and the University of Prizren on Friday.
Once again, I would like to thank the National Library for the great work that they have put into the coordination of activities for this week. I also want to thank all of the municipal and academic libraries who are hosting activities and engaging on these very important issues. Your work is crucial to cultivating a system that protects intellectual property rights, and a society that values them.
Good luck and have a great week!