IFLA Global Vision Project and Library Theory and Research (LTR) Section

by Anna Maria Tammaro

Last March I had the privilege to participate together with Theo Bothma (Chair of LTR Section) and Krystyna Matusiak (Secretary of LTR Section) in Barcelona at the second Kick-off Workshop of the Global Vision Project of IFLA, with two days of activity and discussions starting from the Global Vision Report Summary, illustrated by the General Secretary Gerald Leitner and the President of IFLA Gloria Perez Salmeron. The Global Vision project began in April 2017 with a first Kick-off meeting in Athens, after this, 185 other events followed, some organized directly from IFLA. Sections and members of IFLA have been asked to discuss the core values of libraries, what they are exceptionally good at, what they should do more and what do less and what major challenges there are today for libraries and the library and information science professionals. The discussion on IFLA’s Global Vision also involved all the members: after the WLIC 2017 in Wroclaw there was an online vote, attended by about 22,000 librarians. IFLA Secretary General Gerald Leitner emphasized that the main result of the Global Vision Project was the evidence of  unity: librarians around the world share common values and are united in their goals. Contributions from over 31,000 participants from 190 countries were collected.

The “Global Vision Report Summary” presents 10 highlights associated with 10 opportunities.

The highlights of “Global Vision Report Summary” are as follows:

Devote to equal and free access to information and knowledge

All libraries of all types give free access to information and are champions of the freedom of expression; it is better understood now that access to knowledge is connected to freedom of expression.

Engage with dedication to support literacy, learning and reading

A strong point of libraries is their role in facilitating literacy and reading by giving the indispensable skills that everyone needs.

Focus on community services, regardless of the way these communities are defined

Regardless of how we define community values, inclusion and diversity, active participation, community needs and information behaviour must be better known, we need better connections.

Embrace digital innovation

Everyone agrees that libraries certainly have potential for digital services, but the libraries are not innovative enough, we must have infrastructure for the technology that changes and also have funding for digital innovation.

Do advocacy energetically supported by the leadership

We have leaders who need to advocate and to know how to influence national and local communities priorities. Leaders and librarians must be energetic in advocating community causes otherwise they will not succeed.

Challenge ourselves to find financing

Finding finance is the biggest problem, getting the resources needed to respond to needs of the community effectively, we need to understand the value, the impact, the capabilities of libraries to offer value. It is necessary to have a political role and participate in the tables where decisions are taken.

To necessarily build cooperation and partnerships

Cooperation and new partnerships must be initiated outside and not only between libraries; existing barriers for collaboration can be broken, libraries are no more closed silos.

We want to avoid bureaucracy, rigidity and resistance to change

We know that we must be less inflexible and resistant to change, more proactive, this is a challenge against existing organizational structures and conservative behaviors.

Defining libraries as guardians of the world’s memory

We must enhance the value of the documentary cultural heritage, we are uniquely good at preserving and organizing knowledge with innovative practices, tools, solutions for access that solve any legal and financial problems.

Young professionals are deeply committed and willing to take on responsibilities driving

In this process of transformation young people are involved, it is necessary to encourage them, to offer them effective opportunities to become leaders, take the challenge of leading young people to lead positions.

The Secretary General Gerald Leitner says: “A vision without action would only be a sterile relationship”. IFLA needs great ideas for putting the vision into concrete practice, the Global Vision is the inspiration for all libraries and for IFLA to plan the future.

The identified opportunities derive directly from the highlights. They constitute the beginning of a “plan of action” for libraries and global librarians:

  1. We become champions of intellectual freedom,
  2. We update our traditional roles in the digital age,
  3. We understand the needs of the community better and design services that have an impact,
  4. Keep up with ongoing technological changes,
  5. We need more and better advocates at all level,
  6. We make sure that our stakeholders understand our value and impact,
  7. We develop a spirit of collaboration,
  8. We need to challenge the current organizational structures and behaviors,
  9. We maximize access to world documentary heritage,
  10. We offer young professionals effective opportunities to learn, develop and lead.

The next phase of the IFLA Global Vision Project will be to conduct workshops and virtual conversations in the period from April to July 2018. The results of the workshops and the Kick-off meeting in Barcelona will be summarized in a document to be presented in August 2018 to the WLIC. Between September 2018 and March 2019, there will be further analysis and design of actions towards the realization of the Global Vision, with the launch of the new IFLA strategic plan in August 2019 to the WLIC of Athens.

All the Library Theory and Research Section members are engaged in the conversation, contributing to the IFLA document: how LTR, as a body of international experts, could have the most impact on the field to the benefit of IFLA as an organisation? After selecting the three opportunities most relevant for LTR expertise, for each opportunity, LTR members could provide 5 ideas for actions that answer the following question: What ideas for actions could LTR Section and the area of expertise it represents, undertake to realise this opportunity?

In the virtual meeting of the LTR Standing Committee we have chosen the 3 opportunities most relevant for LTR, also if the work and expertise of LTR can go beyond the three opportunities that have been indicated:

  • We must update our traditional roles in the digital age (Opportunity 2)
  • We need to understand community needs better and design services for impact (Opportunity 3)
  • We must give young professionals effective opportunities to learn, develop and lead (Opportunity 10)

Two opportunities concern all IFLA Sections:

We need more and better advocates at all levels (Opportunity 5)

Every expert in LTR Section and in the library constituency we represent, should be able to stand up and advocate for libraries and explain the impact we are having.

We need to develop a spirit of collaboration (Opportunity 7)

What five ideas for action could our LTR Unit and IFLA undertake to improve collaboration within IFLA and with external partners? Multidisciplinary research networks between LTR and other discipline scholars can be organized in a variety of ways: from open session to all sorts of social networks distributed in space and time.

All LTR members are invited to participate and must feel involved in this conversation for Global Vision, starting from the reflection on the highlights and opportunities described above and accepting the challenge of adapting the “global” to the “local” with efficiency and transparency. There are no silos, diversities and hierarchies, but now we need only partnerships, bridges and proposals of innovation.

 

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