• christinemackenzie

IFLA Global Vision

Those of you following me on Facebook will know that I have been to some pretty interesting places over the past few weeks. Naypyidaw in Myanmar for the CONSAL conference (see previous blog); and then Tunis, Paris and Hanoi for the IFLA Global Vision Project and the workshops for the Middle East and North Africa, Europe and Asia Oceania. These workshops have involved representatives from many countries to discuss the future of libraries.

One of the working groups at the European workshop in Paris

The purpose of the workshops has been to develop actions for the library field to tackle the challenges of the future based on the ten highlights and opportunities identified by the first round of Global Vision consultations held last year.

So why is IFLA undertaking this huge project - to gather together the views and aspirations of librarians from around the world? What is the problem we want to solve? The answer is that we have been doing this to better understand how we can address the challenges faced by libraries in an increasing globalised world. A world where many doubt the value and need for libraries, where a frequent response is that libraries are no longer needed now everything is available on the internet. A world dominated by Google and Facebook and Amazon. We want to know what librarians think is important, what values drive them and what challenges they face now and into the future.

As a result of all the consultation last year, we have identified the top ten highlights and opportunities and now we need to work out what we are going to do about them. We need to come up with ideas on how we can strengthen the library field to power literate, informed and participative societies. With all the ideas generated by this second round of consultation, IFLA will create an Ideas Store. This will have lots of ideas that people can be inspired by and take from. These ideas will also be used by IFLA’s Governing Board in the development of the Strategic Plan 2019 - 2024.

I am excited and heartened by the reactions to the workshops. In the three I have been involved in, while regional differences emerge and are significant, there is still no denying the unifying themes coming through from very different regions and cultures. Working together, the need for strong advocates, keeping up our skills in the digital world, preserving our intellectual heritage and fostering the new generation of librarians - all these themes have resonated with all the participants of the workshops. And the enthusiasm, the commitment, the value of our role as librarians has really shone through the discussions in the three regions.

The other significant theme that has emerged is the desire of the countries without a strong library association to work to achieve one. Whether it is the Middle East or Eastern Europe or in Asia and the Pacific, the librarians attending the regional workshops representing their countries are convinced that a strong national library association can assist in the sustainable development of libraries. A wonderful example I have been sharing is the Myanmar Library Association. Since being involved in IFLA’s Building Strong Library Associations program, the Myanmar Library Association has had incredible impact over the past three years, getting a public library strategy in front of the government, hosting the CONSAL conference and influencing legislation on copyright.

IFLA is keen to help countries establish library associations and strengthen them. We realise that a strong association can benefit and empower librarians, and so have a real impact on the services provided to local communities. We can assist in advice and provide contacts to help.

The regional workshops have involved a good cross section of the profession - from the very experienced to new professionals - who are all passionate about what libraries can achieve and understand that access to information and supporting literacy and learning are vital to developing strong societies.

It has been a privilege and a pleasure to have met so many committed colleagues over the past month. It has highlighted to me the joy in connecting with like-minded people who share the same values and who are working so hard to make information, knowledge and learning accessible to all. I am so positive about our future (and after all we have been described as the second oldest profession) and excited about how IFLA can drive the agenda for the library field.

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