Libraries, Culture and Heritage in 2020

Culture is the way we express ourselves. It is the celebration of diversity. It is sharing, teaching, learning and connecting.

Cultural heritage are the traditions, spaces, and artifacts that tell the stories of our communities – big and small.

In 2020, let’s embrace the role of libraries as hubs for cultural expression and heritage. Let’s explore how every aspect of the library and information service profession helps preserve culture and make it accessible to all.

Our Goals for 2020 and beyond

  1. Demonstrate how culture and cultural heritage connects the library field and builds connections between people and communities
  2. Inspire libraries to think more strategically on how they can use culture and cultural heritage to provide value for society
  3. Use culture and cultural heritage to help libraries engage more meaningfully on a regional level
  4. Enable libraries and collection holders to build their capacity to carry out digitisation and risk reduction initiatives

Coming Up in 2020

From preserving cultural heritage and intervening with heritage at risk, to increasing opportunities for people to experience and share cultural expression and beyond, here’s an overview of some major projects coming up this year:

Strengthening Cooperation within IFLA

Culture and heritage cover a lot of ground, and many different professionals from across IFLA’s activities are involved in one way or another.  This year is about aligning work across the organisation to allow for better channels of communication, opportunities for collaboration, and a greater overall impact.

The Cultural Heritage Programme (CHP) Advisory Committee has been renewed to include members representing Rare Books and Special Collections, Audio-visual and Multimedia, Indigenous Matters, and Art Libraries, in addition to the Preservation and Conservation (PAC) Centres and Preservation and Conservation Section. This advisory body will ensure we have the expert oversight to steer all of IFLA’s cultural heritage programming.

WLIC 2020 will also bring exciting opportunities for collaboration between IFLA’s Sections, both those immediately involved in cultural heritage and those from other areas of the profession. Keep an eye out for Sessions organised by Preservation and Conservation together with the Sections focused on Information Technology, as well as Local History and Genealogy jointly with Indigenous Matters and Rare Books and Special Collections.


Heritage at Risk

Plans are underway to revitalise IFLA’s Register for Documentry Heritage at Risk in 2020. At the heart of this re-launch will be provisions to build more content around the register itself, creating a more comprehensive set of tools. In addition to raising awareness of the register and its function, these tools will add value for collection holders both leading up to and following their collection’s inclusion on the register.

This should prove to be an opportunity to develop our partnership with UNESCO, as we continue to collaborate with the Memory of the World Programme and Culture Sector within the scope of this project.


PAC Centres Growing Regional Connection and Representation

IFLA’s Preservation and Conservation (PAC) Centre network is a valuable resource, not only for sharing knowledge, but for building regional understanding, capacity and networks. Over the course of the year, we will work to raise the profile of the PAC Centre Network. This includes evaluating performance and finding ways to increase their impact, both within their regions and across IFLA’s cultural activities.


Libraries in the Climate Heritage Network

Launched in October 2019, the Climate Heritage Network (CHN) is an energetic initiative working to highlight and enhance the role of memory institutions in climate action. IFLA is a proud founding member of the CHN.

We feel libraries a can have a large impact through our work in preservation and access to information and data. This also includes our field’s knowledge about the preservation of and access to digital heritage

Librarian and archivist-led exploration and discovery of information and data can power other advocacy and awareness-raising efforts. This year will bring opportunities for IFLA to contribute to the CHN through communicating the connection between cultural heritage and climate action.   


Typology of libraries in national literacy programmes

Literacy programmes can help drive a lifelong love of reading and learning, as well as providing essential skills for economic and civic participation. This brings with it opportunities to experience diverse cultural expressions and record one’s own. This year, we want to better understand the role libraries currently play in national-level literacy plans around the world.

We are also seeking to strengthen partnerships at the international and regional level, through the UNESCO Education Sector, to advocate for the important role libraries plan in society to increase literacy.


Long-term Preservation and Digitalisation

PERSIST is a project spearheaded by IFLA together with UNESCO and the International Council on Archives. It aims to enhance the sustainability of the information society by establishing continuity of access to information through preservation.

The Content Selection Guidelines were first prepared by the UNESCO PERSIST initiative in 2016. In the light of experience in applying the guidelines, as well as broader technological change over the last four years, we’ve decided that it is time for an update. This year, we are convening a working group to update  the guidance around existing elements, and to include new types of content in these guidelines.


For updates, follow our Cultural Heritage programmes online at and on the Library Policy and Advocacy blog