Russian Libraries in IFLA: New Formats of Engagement by Svetlana Gorokhova, Daria Beliakova and Maria Bereslawskaia

Russian Libraries in IFLA: New Formats of Engagement round table was held on Wednesday, December 09, 2020, by the Library for Foreign Literature, IFLA Russian Language Center at Russian State Library and the International Cooperation Section of Russian Library Association (RLA).

Purpose of the meeting was to inform the Russian library community on the following developments:

  • IFLA Governance Review;
  • Changes in the IFLA Statute to vote for;
  • New WLIC formats.

The questions raised included:

  • how to effectively transfer traditional Russian WLIC events into new formats – online  and hybrid ones;
  • what are the new activities Russian delegates could design to make their participation in 2021 WLIC ultra productive ?
  • what kind of professional development events could make Russian library professionals better prepared for ultimate engagement in WLIC events, various IFLA units, programs and projects all through the year.

The roundtable brought together 73 participants, including members of IFLA sections’ standing committees, representatives of library associations and professional media and managers from libraries of various types. Especially noteworthy was the attendance of representatives from the CIS national libraries.

The online roundtable opened with welcoming remarks by its organizers and a keynote address by IFLA President Christine Mackenzie where she presented in detail the Governance Review outline,  its background  and the anticipated results.

The contributions, which followed C. Mackenzie’s speech, drew upon and further developed the theses made by the IFLA President. The presenters discussed the results of the Global Vision project, which led to the development of the IFLA Strategy for 2019 – 2024, as well as other recent IFLA documents, including a Draft of the Governance Proposal of 11 August 2020 and the IFLA Annual Report for 2019.

The online audience got familiarized with the outcomes of the latest IFLA General Assembly, which took place in the virtual format on 5 November, 2020. They were also informed of an upcoming extraordinary General Assembly to be held on 12 February, 2021. This General Assembly’s primary purpose is to have a vote on the new IFLA Statutes. The speakers paid particular attention to the changes in the IFLA Statutes to help their colleagues – Russian delegates to the General Assembly – to form their judgement in the upcoming vote. The discussion also focused on the anticipated shifts in the IFLA structure, for instance, setting up regional councils, their composition and mission.

The representatives of the IFLA Section for Education and Training ; Statistics and Evaluation IFLA Section; IFLA Section for Continuing Professional Development and Workplace Learning shared how the pandemic made them adapt to the online communication tools and how their sections effectively used them to stay in touch and achieve their work plans for 2020. In these hard times we are experiencing with the Covid-19 and the cancellation of the WLIC in Dublin and other usual face-to-face meetings, section members are trying to make the most of online collaboration opportunities using blogs and other social media, as well as open access resources. The online discussion focused, among other things, on the results of the Library World Map project and plans for new webinar cycles. Remote working seems to have had a cohesive effect upon the section teams scattered all over the globe.

In the framework of the preparations for the WLIC–2021, representatives of the International Cooperation Section (RLA) came up with a proposal to run a cycle of webinars about different IFLA divisions and sections. It will help present and discuss the value of Russian delegates’ joint work to advance their professional agendas and enhance Russia’s stature in IFLA.

Building the awareness of the IFLA reform trends among library professionals in the CIS countries and promoting their engagement in IFLA units were the topics of another discussion highlighting the need to run a cycle of professional development events for the CIS library community.

Participants also came forward with an initiative to hold meetings in English prior to the next WLIC, to make Russian-speaking delegates better prepared for the effective communication with their foreign colleagues.

The roundtable’s organizers will continue providing up-to-date information about IFLA developments and consultations to all those planning to participate in the coming WLIC and votes to IFLA sections’ standing committees or elections in the divisions and the Governing Board. The organizers are ready to offer assistance in familiarizing with IFLA key concepts and translating essential information materials.

Here’s the recording for this webinar:


Svetlana Gorokhova, Advisor to Director General All Russia State Library for Foreign Literature, Moscow, Russia

Daria Beliakova, Head of the Centre for Cooperation with International Professional Organisations, Library for Foreign Literature, Moscow, Russia

Maria Bereslawskaia, leading methodologist of the Centre for Cooperation with International Professional Organisations, Library for Foreign Literature, Moscow, Russia