Monthly Archives: November 2018

World Digital Preservation Day 2018

On 29 November libraries, archives, information institutions and others with a commitment to preserving cultural heritage celebrate the World Digital Preservation Day. This first took place last year, when the Digital Preservation Coalition (DPC) launched the initiative with the aim to create wider recognition for the value of digital heritage, and take urgent steps to keep it alive

Last year IFLA used the momentum of the day to call for government action, and to join forces with libraries in addressing the on the challenges in digital preservation and to raise awareness of the issues libraries are facing in preserving digital heritage.

This year we will be celebrating World Digital Preservation Day by celebrating all the great ideas, projects and efforts that libraries have been making to overcome the challenges associated with effective digital preservation.

The challenge of digital preservation

Before starting the celebration, let’s first outline what is meant by digital preservation. Digital preservation is defined as the formal activity of safekeeping digitally stored information. It requires policies, planning, resource allocation and appropriate technologies to ensure access to digital information for as long as necessary.

This is where libraries come in! Libraries have a central role in preserving and promoting cultural heritage, including modern-day history of digital collections and materials.

IFLA supported the disseminating of a PERSIST survey to get a global overview of the existence and implementation of policies and strategies for preserving born-digital materials, and to assess the role that governments assume therein.

The survey results showed that libraries are facing difficulties in digital heritage preservation often due to the lack of knowledge, funds or policies. The report also showed that there is a need to advocate for preservation efforts and increased public awareness, as well as the need for common standards and ways to approach this issue.

Libraries preserving born-digital materials

Libraries all over the world have to deal with fast growing numbers of digital materials that need to be safeguarded. Despite the many challenges libraries are facing, they are committed to preserve and provide access to documents or information that have permanent or continuing value.

To celebrate the World Digital Preservation Day we want to highlight some of the many great initiatives, but without forgetting that comprehensive digital preservation is too big an issue for any individual institution to take on alone.

IFLA has worked on the challenges around digital preservation for years, both through the UNESCO PERSIST project and also within our sections on National Libraries, Preservation and Conversation and our PAC Centres.

In 2016 the first ever Preservation and Conservation (PAC) Centre specialised in digital preservation were created. The PAC Centre is based at the National Library of Poland and supports the needs of libraries concerning digital preservation and digital sustainability. The PAC Centre is currently conducting a series of surveys covering libraries’ needs in the field of digital preservation and conservation to develop a set of recommendations for long-term preservation. An English survey will be available next year, we’ll make sure to keep you posted.

Other PAC Centres have made digital preservation one of their main focus areas for the coming years. The PAC Centre at Biblioteca Nacional Chile are currently developing a special training program on digital preservation. The PAC Centre at the National Library of Korea is also focusing on digital preservation.

Libraries worldwide are working to preserve our digital heritage, but they cannot do it alone. It has to be a shared responsibility!

The UNESCO PERSIST initiative has offered some ideas to what action may be taken, and it is clear that preservation policies must be put in place. IFLA supports the dialogue between libraries and policy makers, only by joining forces can our heritage be preserved.

This week, tweet about #Copyright4Libraries: join our efforts at WIPO remotely

Help make libraries heard by using the hashtag #Copyright4Libraries

IFLA representatives are currently in Geneva at the World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO). They will take part in week of international discussions about copyright, alongside representatives of many of the United Nations Member States. There will be a particular focus on exceptions and limitations to copyright for libraries.

This, the 37th meeting of WIPO’s Standing Committee on Copyright and Related Rights (SCCR), will offer an important opportunity to shape actions planned around exceptions and limitations. After talks about broadcasting on the first two days of the meeting, Wednesday 28 November is likely to be the day where they focus on libraries. Member states are exploring what our institutions need to do their jobs, and how to move forwards.

We expect to hear Member States take positions on the topic, as well as receive presentations by renowned scholars to illustrate the issues. You can follow the discussion live here:

We published a call for action ahead of the meeting, but more can be done now: let your government representatives know that their citizens, and the libraries that serve them, care about the outcomes of the discussions. Ask them to support progress at the international level.

Post on social media using the hashtag #Copyright4Libraries.

Here are some examples of tweets or posts on other social media platforms:

Librarians in [country] need better #Copyright4Libraries, and exceptions and limitations are key to ensure this. We call upon our government @[twitter handle of the country’s copyright office] to support us at @WIPO #SCCR37

Cultural cross-border cooperation needs an international set of exceptions and limitations to #Copyright4Libraries. We call upon our government @[twitter handle of the country’s copyright office] to support us at @WIPO #SCCR37

Librarians shouldn’t have to face legal challenges for lending books and preserving our heritage. We call upon our government @[twitter handle of the country’s copyright office] to support progress on the topic of #Copyright4Libraries at @WIPO #SCCR37



Here’s an overview of positive things that WIPO member states said about libraries at the last meeting.

For a clear idea of what can come out of SCCR, it is the body that adopted the Marrakesh Treaty. This international instrument is proving to be very successful and it has been ratified faster than any other treaty in WIPO’s history.

The End of a Discipline? EU Copyright Directive Endangers Digital Humanities

The Digital Humanities – a highly promising emerging field academic discipline  in which libraries are heavily invested – risks being seriously damaged by a proposed amendment to the EU draft Directive on Copyright in the Digital Single Market. This short-sighted and poorly thought-through measure needs to be rejected in order to favour research which offers important new perspectives in support of better policy making.

The humanities – history, politics, geography, literary studies and more – play a vital role in understanding how our societies work. In doing so, they inform our attitudes, our responses, and our choices.

This is also true of the work of governments and other decision-makers, who need the best available evidence and insights to define the right policy.

While these disciplines have traditionally been seen as some way behind the ‘hard’ sciences in their uptake of digital tools, this is less and less the case. Digital humanities – the application of digital tools to humanities research – has not only opened up new possibilities for analysis, but are also driving convergence, allowing for more complete and holistic research than previously. With centres of excellence emerging in universities all over Europe, this is a key area of growth in research.

This blog sets out the issues, and sets out some actions that you can take.

Doing Humanities Digitally

Digital Humanities work by using methods such as text and data mining to analyse large volumes of digital – or digitised – works in order to detect trends and phenomena. It is helping to rectify the long-standing marginalisation of women and other vulnerable groups in the historical record, and is helping us to understand the power of political currents and discourses, support social histories, and offer new insights on the past.

Importantly, and in line with the priorities of many research-supporting organisations, it is interdisciplinary, bringing together teams of experts in order to develop well-rounded projects which take account of all perspectives. For policy and decision-makers, who need to be able to draw on a broad evidence-based, this is a welcome step.

Libraries have been active in the field, rapidly understanding the potential to make new uses of collections, and using their expertise to support interdisciplinary working.


You Can Have Your Cake But You Can’t Eat It

Digital humanities scholars, as implied above, rely on the possibility to carry out analysis of digital (or digitised) texts.

When dealing with works which are not yet in the public domain (which is only safe to say for works dating from before 1880), two exceptions to copyright come into play, at least in the European context:

  • the right to take copies of works (i.e. digitising analogue works in order to ensure their ongoing accessibility), and
  • the right to carry out analysis on them for research purposes (covered by the new proposed exception in the Digital Single Market Directive for text and data mining ).

However, an amendment proposed by the European Parliament (article 6) would make this impossible, by forcing librarians and researchers to choose between either digitising or copying works, or  actually using them.

In effect, that they can either have a cake or  eat it – but not both. The proposal would mean an organisation will have to choose whether to preserve an in copyright work, data mine it or use it in distance learning. Once one of these activities has been performed, you cannot undertake any of the other activities outlined in the proposed new copyright directive.

Such a choice is absurd, and would put an end to much of the work that digital humanities are doing today. It would clearly put Europe at a major disadvantage compared to other jurisdictions where more sensible laws are in place.

For European policy-makers, it would also cut off a highly promising source of insights for better policy-making, as well as fairer and more inclusive societies.

In the interests of Europe’s researchers, policy makers and citizens, it is vital to reject this non-sensical amendment.


What Can You Do?

European Union Member States and Members of the European Parliament are currently debating this amendment. You can help underline the need to defend the digital humanities by writing to your national copyright or intellectual property office as soon as possible. We are glad to be working with LIBER on this issue. E-mail us if you want a template you can use: stephen.wyber[at]

Libraries at the African Youth SDGs Summit

Damilare Oyedele at the African Youth SDGs Summit

Damilare Oyedele at the African Youth SDGs Summit

By Damilare Oyedele, Library and You

Over 1,200 young people from across Africa gathered at Accra International Conference Centre, Accra Ghana from 7th – 9th November for the 2nd edition of the African Youth SDGs Summit.

The African Youth SDGs Summit is an annual continental summit that gathers young people from across Africa to deliberate and design solutions that will facilitate the gradual implementation and accomplishment of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals and the African Union 2063 Agenda.

This year, the theme for the summit was “Partnership with Youth to Achieve the SDGs: Moving from Policy to Actions”. The 3-day continental gathering of young changemakers across Africa created blueprints, networks, and implementation plans for young people’s engagement and inclusion in SDG planning and implementation across the continent.

In view of this, the importance of access to information as a necessity to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals was also deliberated upon on the day 3 of the summit. To this Damilare Oyedele, Co-Founder & Chief Executive; Library and You had a parallel session where he made a presentation on; Libraries in our society: Prerequisite for the successful accomplishment of the Sustainable Development Goals in Africa. The presentation gave birth to a project launch called Library Impact Project: access to information for Africa’s development

Library Impact Project is an initiative designed to provide capacity, create awareness on how libraries can contribute to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals with the view to facilitate partnerships and collaborations with policymakers, individuals, changemakers across Africa to engage libraries in their countries to accomplish the SDGs.

It is obvious that Africa’s future lies in the hands of her youths, and we all have the responsibility to take action and create sustainable solutions that will transform ‘Mother Africa’, to create the Africa we want, to create a better place for the current generation and generations unborn. However, for this to be a feasibility, access to information for all is eminent beyond comparison.

From the Earliest Age: Libraries and the Convention on the Rights of the Child

Services to children already represent an important part of the work of libraries.

Through spaces that provide comfort and security, services that develop literacy and a love of reading, and collections that open minds and horizons, they are key reference points in the lives of many children.

But, arguably, they are also associated with human rights.

The Convention on the Rights of the Child, signed 19 years ago today, is a landmark document, developing the ideas already present in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. This blog explores some of the key points in this document, and how they apply to libraries.


Children’s Rights are Human Rights

Much of the Convention is familiar. There is affirmation of the right to freedom from violence or cruel treatment, or to medical care.

In particular, the Convention underlines some of the key points from the Universal Declaration – freedom of expression and to ‘seek, receive and impart information’ (Article 13), the right to a private life (Article 16), the right to education (Article 28).

But it goes further on some points. For example Article 17 stresses that children should have ‘access to information and material from a diversity of national and international sources, especially those aimed at the promotion of his or her social, spiritual and moral well-being and physical and mental health’.

Governments are then requested to promote children’s books and programming, with a focus on the importance of access to a variety of sources, notably in the case of children from minority groups.

On education (Article 28), there is also a command to ‘promote and encourage international cooperation in matters relating to education, in particular with a view to contributing to the elimination of ignorance and illiteracy throughout the world and facilitating access to scientific and technical knowledge and modern teaching methods’.


A Right to a Library?

While there is no explicit reference to libraries in the text, the contribution they can make is clear.

Accessing information through a choice of media is exactly what libraries – almost uniquely – do, and on a basis that includes everyone.

Libraries’ commitment to providing diverse collections responding to user needs come into focus in the obligation of states to provide access to a diversity of sources. And thanks to the work of librarians, materials acquired can be checked, and quality for young people ensured.

And of course through promoting international exchange and the development of new ideas, libraries allow for the flow of information and innovations which raise standards and improve services globally.

And, crucially, by being a free and welcoming space, they ensure that the realisation of these rights is not the privilege of the wealthy. This is a key issue – the group most at risk of poverty in the United States for example are young single parent families. There are similar statistics in the United Kingdom too for example.

In short, while libraries may not be mentioned in the Convention, it is difficult to imagine how it can be delivered without them.


Fortunately, IFLA’s sections are already on the case.

IFLA’s Literacy and Reading Section promotes the right to read. There are guidelines on school libraries, and ones on services to babies and toddlers, children’s library services, and for library-based literacy programmes.

And whole satellite event at IFLA’s most recent World Library and Information Congress focused in particular on providing inclusive services to children and young adults.

As we approach the 20th Anniversary of the Convention on the Rights of the Child next year, it’s clear that libraries – and IFLA – will continue to do their best to promote the rights of all of their uses.

Latest trends in open access: looking back at OpenCon

The Open Access movement is not standing still. Alongside the successes, there are also major questions and even concerns about inclusion, sustainability and whether it is achieving its original goals. OpenCon may not provide the answers, but provides an excellent opportunity to share ideas and hear new ones, and explore potential ways forwards.

The conference is held annually, organised by SPARC, and looks at open access, open science and open education. It is the only conference of its kind, gathering a small number of selected early career researchers, NGOs and government officials, as well as other actors involved from all over the world. This year’s OpenCon took place in Toronto from 2 to 4 November, and once again, it was an unforgettable experience.

Everything is set up in a way that makes every participant chat at least once with every one of the other participants. Panels take place in between story circles, do-a-thons, unconferences and regional workshops in which the audience takes over. This is what makes it so unique: a conference made, to a large extent, by its participants.

Given that it is difficult to summarise what happened at OpenCon altogether, here is a recap of some projects and topics that were discussed during the conference:

The panel on diversity, equity and inclusion in open research and education

This is one of the most-favoured panels in OpenCon, which goes back to its very essence. It is based on the fact that “while the Open Access, Open Data, and Open Education movements often lean on rhetoric around social justice, equity, and the democratization of knowledge, in many ways, the movements continue to marginalize underrepresented scholars and students. Mainstream efforts to advance Open centre digital solutions and dominant (often Western) ways of knowing”.

Panellists Jasmeen Patheja (Founder/ Director of Blank Noise), Leslie Chan (Associate Professor, University of Toronto Scarborough), Denisse Alboronoz (The Knowledge GAP, University of Toronto Scarboorugh) and Alexis C. (Pineapple Laboratories) introduced different perspectives and projects, that are all impacted by a lack of diversity, equity and inclusion or that could benefit from it. All panellists underlined the opportunity that the open access movement has to make change happen through knowledge sharing.

Denisse for instance talked about what it could mean to re-imagine open science from a feminist perspective, which she has been exploring at Leslie looked into the global north and how institutions there could ensure that the open access movement fosters inclusion, diversity and equity.

Presentations are available online (see this video, starting on minute 48).

IFLA’s research on International Governmental Organisations

IFLA used this opportunity to share its recent research on the topic of open access in intergovernmental organisations. As already presented at the Creative Commons summit, while much of the discussion around open access focuses on scientific research, free and meaningful access to reports and data produced by public bodies is an important part of the picture. In the case of intergovernmental organisations (IGOs) in particular, there are four main benefits from open access to the works they produce: greater transparency around decision-making; support for research, jobs and growth; the moral justice of the public being able to access works for which they have paid; and the example set to national governments.

Some IGOs, such as UNESCO or the World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO), have been leading the way with open policies. However, there are still many IGOs whose policies are far from being open.

IFLA will soon release a statement on the topic and make the background research available on a user-friendly platform.

The OpenAccess button and copyright librarians

OpenCon was attended by many “copyright librarians”, or librarians whose position within the university involves dealing and giving advice on copyright to library users, faculty staff and researchers. They all insisted on the importance that copyright plays in the library, the amount of request for advice they receive, and the lack of trained staff on the matter.

One of the key things in their role is to guide researchers throughout the publication process, and encouraging the deposit of a pre- or post-print on the library’s repository for it to be available to other researchers. Natalia Norori and Joe McArthur have been working on a project in the framework of the open access button that seeks to make this easier for researchers. The discussion started through a do-a-thon that tried to answer the question “self-archiving and copyright: How might we help researchers be more conscious of what versions of their work they can/can’t share online?”. More information is available on the github page.

OpenCon satellite events

Every year, SPARC also offers support to people who wish to organise meetings on open access, open science and open education in their regions. Previous editions of OpenCon have gathered people willing to do so from Latin America, a group that has successfully organised two OpenCon “Latam” satellites both in Mexico (2017) and in Argentina (2018).

Another successful OpenCon satellite was celebrated in the United Nations Headquarters in New York on October 2018. The UN Headquarters library brought the discussion on open access, open science, open data and open educational resources to the UN. The event was co-hosted by SPARC, and was attended mainly by librarians and higher UN officials. Panellists highlighted on the contribution that open access can bring to the achievement to the Sustainable Development Goals. Part 1, part 2 and part 3 of the session can be watched on the UN Web TV webpage.

Next Generation Leadership Award

The next generation leadership award is given each year to a person who helped advance significantly open access, open science or open education in its country, region or internationally. This year’s award went to Diego Gómez, a biologist who faced criminal charges for sharing an article. Fundación Karisma, who offered him support throughout the trial and spread the word internationally, collected the award. More information is available in Karisma Foundation’s webpage.

Several other projects: the Darakht-e Danesh Online Library for Educators

OpenCon is also a gold mine of information on local initiatives with great impact. One good example is the Darakht-e Danesh Online Library for Educators, a project initiated by Jamshid Hashimi that aims at using OER to foster education in Afghanistan. It “is a repository of open educational resources for teachers, teacher trainers, school administrators, literacy workers and others involved in furthering education in Afghanistan. These open source resources include lesson plans, pedagogical tools, exercises, experiments, reading texts, work books, curricula and other resources for use in Afghan classrooms”.


OpenCon means going back home with more questions than answers, which is also a sign of a healthy movement that questions its own foundations. Participants want to ensure that the open movement does not end up creating the same burdens that triggered it, that it benefits every region in the world equally, and that it is sustainable in the long-term.

And if you weren’t there, you haven’t necessarily missed it – the main sessions are available on their YouTube page (see for day 1, day 2 and day 3).

The IGF is in Paris – but you can join us from everywhere!

The 13th annual meeting of the Internet Governance Forum (IGF) is taking place in Paris this year. The meeting is ‎hosted by the Government of France at the Headquarters of UNESCO, and runs from 12 to ‎‎14 November 2018.‎

This year’s session has more than a hundred sessions, including national, regional and youth IGF initiatives as well as seventeen ‎Dynamic Coalitions with inputs from communities and stakeholders. This multi-stakeholder approach, a key characteristic of the IGF, makes this an important opportunity to influence and shape public ‎discourse on internet governance themes and to discuss needed improvements. ‎

This year’s gathering stresses the importance of creating an Internet of Trust. To achieve this goal, the IGF in looking at best practices ‎in gender and access; cybersecurity; local content; AI, big data and the internet of things. ‎

IFLA is at the Internet Governance Forum in Paris to discuss the importance of public access in libraries. We will be part of two important events. The first is on the 13 November at the American Library in Paris, with more details available here. It will highlight the importance of public access as a means of getting the remaining billions online, alongside other promising initiatives such as community networks, as previously discussed at the IFLA President’s Meeting in Barcelona, and offline internet.

The second, on the 14 November takes place as part of the formal IGF programme. The session of the Dynamic Coalition on Public Access in Libraries in which IFLA plays a leading role will discuss and improve the toolkit on public access that IFLA has prepared for library associations. The toolkit looks at the key policy questions in the fields of technology, financing, regulation, as they affect libraries delivering public access.

You can find a list of the events on the IGF website and you can follow all the sessions remotely. Please, join us and be a part of this community!