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Event Recap: IFLA Presidential Theme – “Libraries: A Call to Action”

Event Recap: IFLA Presidential Theme – “Libraries: A Call to Action”

By Jan Zastrow, DC/SLA Communications Team
Photos by Julia Leggett and Jan Zastrow

DC/SLA–Wednesday, Jan. 20, 2016

Gathering at Bloomberg BNA’s Crystal City offices on the cold evening of Wednesday, January 20, 25-plus DC/SLA members met for a program on IFLA’s Presidential Theme, “Libraries: A Call to Action.”

According to its website, “IFLA—the International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions—is the leading international body representing the interests of library and information services and their users. It is the global voice of the library and information profession.”

Scheeder_DonnaAfter enjoying time for networking, hearty sandwiches and snacks, Julia Leggett, DC/SLA International Relations Committee Chair, welcomed the audience and introduced Donna Scheeder, 2015-2017 IFLA President, who outlined the “IFLA Outlook: 2015, 2016 and Beyond.” Scheeder began by charting five trends in society affecting libraries:

1) New technologies will both expand and limit who has access to information;
2) Online education will transform and disrupt traditional learning (particularly true as both students and employers are doubting the ROI of expensive degrees);
3) The boundaries of data protection and privacy will be redefined (such as the EU’s “Right to Be Forgotten” initiative);
4) Hyper-connected societies will listen to and empower new groups, as with Social Media; and
5) The global information economy will be transformed by new technologies.


These all represent change: change is constant and is happening faster than ever. Scheeder asserts that it’s better to lead our own changes rather than have them imposed from the outside. The best time to change is before you have to!

IFLA’s four strategic directions for 2016 are:

Libraries in Society: promoting literacy and media literacy, introducing libraries on the agenda of international organizations, promoting standards to support libraries in the provision of services to their communities;
Information and Knowledge: defining a long-term sustainable information environment, advocating for an equitable copyright framework, influencing the future of Internet Governance (such as Net Neutrality and citizen-created content);
Cultural Heritage: further developing Preservation & Conservation Centers (PACs), preservation of content in its diverse forms, safeguarding cultural heritage through Disaster Risk Reduction, etc.;
Capacity Building: advocacy agenda such as promoting libraries as part of the United Nations 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, positioning libraries as critical community assets, and advancing librarians as leaders.

Scheeder closed by quoting President Obama: “We are the change that we seek!”

Gassie_LillianNext, Lillian Gassie, chair of the IFLA Standing Committee on Library & Research Services for Parliaments (IFLAPARL), spoke about this section—one of 43 in the organization—which shares best practices, networking, promotes regional groups and more. See the 2015-2017 Parliamentary Libraries Section Action Plan at http://www.ifla.org/files/assets/services-for-parliaments/strategic-plan/action_plan_iflaparl_2015.pdf

McCallum_SallySally McCallum, IFLA Knowledge Management/Classification & Indexing Standing Committee Member, discussed the group’s project to edit a book of 21 articles on Knowledge Management titled, “Knowledge Management in Libraries and Organizations.” Published in December 2015, it focuses on KM for Library Users and KM as a Tool for Changing Library Culture. To order or learn more about it, visit http://www.ifla.org/publications/ifla-publications-series-173 (and IFLA members receive a 30% discount!).

lavernepageFollowing McCallum was Laverne Page, IFLA Reference & Information Services Section Standing Committee Member. She recounted how one day in 2004, an IFLA–Buenos Aires publicity poster featuring tango dancers caught her attention and ever since then she was hooked. “I have moved yearly with the IFLA pack around the world … it has been pure enjoyment!” The highlight of her 2015 IFLA meeting in Cape Town was the successful outcome of a children’s book donation project.  Learn about their efforts to develop strong communities through libraries at http://www.ifla.org/africa.

Finally, DC/SLA 2016 Board Member & 2017 President Elect Blane Dessy gave a few closing remarks and encouraged as many members as possible to attend the 2016 IFLA conference in (relatively nearby) Columbus, Ohio!

Many thanks to our speakers for sharing their IFLA experiences and broadening our professional horizons.

IFLA Outlook: 2015, 2016 & Beyond

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