Monthly Archives: May 2020

The 10-Minute International Librarian #2: Improve a Library-Related Wikipedia Page

For those with access, the internet has opened up exciting new possibilities to access information and discover the world.

Libraries globally are doing great work to make it easier for as many people as possible to find and use their collections.

In parallel, sites like Wikipedia help bring together knowledge from thousands and thousands of contributors, and give access to this for free.

Indeed, we’re currently celebrating #1Lib1Ref – a biannual effort to work with librarians to improve the quality of articles on Wikipedia.

But Wikipedia articles don’t just need to be by librarians – they can also be about them and their work.

So for our 2nd 10-Minute International Librarian exercise, find and improve a library-related Wikipedia page!

Ensuring your library appears on Wikipedia can be a great way of helping both your users, and other librarians around the world find out about your building and your services.

Or you could ensure that the pages about key institutions or concepts related to libraries are up-to-date, helping colleagues elsewhere.

Find out more about how to edit Wikipedia on the #1Lib1Ref page and on our blog!

This idea relates to the IFLA Strategy! Strategic Direction 2, Key Initiative 2: Deliver high quality campaigns, information and other communications products on a regular basis to engage and energise libraries


As we publish more ideas, you will be able to view these using the #10MinuteInternationalLibrarian tag on this blog, and of course on IFLA’s Ideas Store! Do also share your ideas in the comments box.

Library Stat of the Week #20: Countries with more public librarians have more adults engaged in non-formal education… but there is more to do!

In last week’s Library Stat of the Week (#19), we looked at the connection between literacy skills among adults and numbers of public and community libraries and librarians, finding a correlation between numbers of librarians per 100 000 people and numbers of adults with low skills. In general, more librarians tend to mean fewer adults with low skills.

The reason for looking at these numbers is the fact that public libraries in particular traditionally have a role in facilitating literacy and learning in their communities.

This often happens in a very informal way, for example simply through independent reading or other use of library resources. However, libraries also have a role as a venue for – or portal to – more formal opportunities.

As underlined in the chapter of the 2019 Development and Access to Information report on SDG4, libraries can indeed be a vital part of countries’ infrastructure for lifelong learning.

So this week, we’ll look at the relationship between numbers of public and community libraries and the numbers of adults (aged 25-64) currently engaged in learning. Once again, we’ll use data from the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) Programme for the International Assessment of Adult Competences (PIAAC). Library data comes from IFLA’s Library Map of the World.

Graph 1: Public and Community Libraries/Librarians and Adults Engaged in Non-Formal Learning

The first graph looks at the relationship between the number of public and community libraries and librarians per 100 000 people and the share of the adult population in non-formal education (source). Each dot represents a country for which data is available for adult learning, and for numbers either of public and community libraries and librarians.

In a similar result to that found in last week’s Library Stat of the Week, there is correlation in the case of public and community librarians, with more librarians tending to mean more people engaged in non-formal learning. The link is less strong in the case of public and community libraries.

As with last week, this could be explained by the fact that it is the presence and support of library and information workers that helps people to make connections with learning opportunities.

The next question is to see whether there is any sign of a connection between numbers of public and community libraries and librarians, and the number of people with lower levels of education (who have not completed secondary education) involved in adult education.

Graph 1: Public and Community Libraries/Librarians and Adults with only Primary EducationEngaged in Learning

Graph 2 does this, using figures for adults involved in all sorts of learning (formal, non-formal and a combination of the two) (source). This provides a less positive picture, with no obvious relationship between access to learning and numbers of librarians, and even a negative one with numbers of public libraries.

This suggests that governments are not yet making full use of libraries in order to help those who have not had the opportunity to reach the end of secondary education to access education. Given the evidence of what libraries can do, this is a chance missed.

Nonetheless, it is also worth bearing in mind that some countries have lower levels of adult education in learning than others in general, which helps put the number of those with only primary education in context. Other drivers of access to lifelong learning can of course be factors such as how this is paid for, or the volume and attractiveness of the offer.

We can get an alternative perspective here by looking at the ‘learning gap’ – the difference between the share of adults with university and only primary education who are currently engaged in non-formal and/or formal education (source).

Graph 1: Public and Community Libraries/Librarians and the Learning Gap among Adult Learners with only Primary, and University Education

This in interesting as an indicator of equality, as a smaller gap means that there is a lower risk of people starting with less education falling further behind. Graph 3 shows what happens when we compare the size of this gap with numbers of public and community libraries and librarians.

Encouragingly, we see a return to the sorts of figures seen in Graph 1 and last week’s Library Stat of the Week, with larger numbers of public and community librarians per 100 000 people correlating with smaller gaps in access to learning.

While, as ever, correlation does not mean causality, one explanation here would be the role that libraries can play in ensuring that adults can have a second chance. While those who have been to university may feel more confident in looking for opportunities for opportunities for further learning, or be in jobs that welcome and support this, this may be less likely for those with only primary education. Libraries can help fill the gap.

With many – especially those in lower-skilled, lower-paid jobs – facing unemployment in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, governments would do well to invest both in skills provision, and the libraries that help those who need it most to find it.


Find out more on the Library Map of the World, where you can download key library data in order to carry out your own analysis! See our other Library Stats of the Week! We are happy to share the data that supported this analysis on request.

Is the Library eBook Market Working? Identifying Areas for Further Investigation

With the obligation to close their doors for the safety of users and staff alike, the ability of libraries to offer services digitally has never been so important.

Libraries have responded, diverting available resources and energies into providing online storytimes and consultations, and developing their presence on social media.

Some have sought to reassign budgets from physical to digital collections, sometimes with supplementary funding offered by public authorities. This experience is, for many, making clear the differences in what libraries’ money can buy in the offline and online worlds, especially as concerns eBooks.

This is not a new concern of course. Libraries have been highlighting concerns about the way the library eLending market has been working for years, with high prices, restrictive terms, and simple non-availability of works all regularly featuring.

While much of the attention has been on ‘trade’ eBooks – those lent out by public libraries – this is an issue that also affects academic libraries (as our interview with Johanna Anderson underlined).

In terms of solutions, the focus has tended to be on copyright, and how to update rules in order to ensure that the provisions that allow for libraries to work with physical books should apply also to electronic ones.

However, copyright – as well as exceptions to it – are a response to problems in a market, either because a public good is not being supplied, or because the structure and operation of the market is working to the disadvantage of one party or another. This, of course, is the job of competition and consumer policy.

Following on from an earlier blog on this site about how competition – or anti-trust – policy applies in the world of libraries, this one looks to explore what evidence we have – and what evidence we might need – in order to encourage competition and markets authorities to look into the way that library eBook lending operates.

To do so, it will look at a number of the steps usually taken in competition investigations in order to assess the need for an intervention.


Are there excessive profits?

A first potential indicator of problems with the market is when producers are making profits that can be considered higher than usual.

The theory at least suggests that if a market is competitive, then high profits will tend to attract more companies. This will generate more competition, which will drive profits down, for the benefit of consumers.

Looking at eBook markets, it does not seem to be the case that ‘trade’ publishers are enjoying huge profits, although the big players have seen rises in recent years, often however on the back of audiobooks.

On the academic side, major publishers do make high profit levels, although again not necessarily just on the back of their eBook operations.

However, profit levels alone are not a sure sign of a competition issue.


Is the market concentrated?

In many investigations, the next place to look in trying to work out whether a market is not working is whether there is a limited number of competitors. A large share of the market held by just one or a few companies could indicate a problem.

When it comes to eBooks, the picture is different for ‘trade’ and academic books. In the case of the former, there are plenty of publishers putting out novels and other materials.

With academic journals, there is a well-documented concentration of much of the market in the hands of a number of publishing companies, and concern every time that there is talk of a merger or take-over.

However, even were one of the big publishing companies to disappear, the market would remain to compare favourably with that for internet providers or airlines in many countries.

Of course, this is to assume that the market is for eBooks in general. Alternatively, we can look at the market for a single book. In this case, the rightholder has a monopoly thanks to copyright.

Clearly this is a violation of perfect competition, but one that – at least theoretically – can be justified in terms of giving the rightholder the time they need to recoup their investments. Whether the current length of copyright terms in international law has anything to do with economic logic is another question.

Crucially, the monopoly awarded to the rightholder of a particular eBook is easier to justify when these are substitutable – i.e. when eBook A by publisher X could broadly be replaced by eBook B by publisher Y.

When, however, this is not the case – i.e. because a student or researcher needs a very specific work, or a library card-holder wants to read the latest bestseller, not something a bit like it – there is more of a challenge.

Another solution would be to allow physical books to compete – for example by allowing a library to digitise a physical copy in their collection, and give access on a one-copy-one-user basis. However, this idea is deeply contested.

Even initiatives focusing on out-of-commerce works, such as Controlled Digital Lending, have led to threats of legal action, while the Hathi Trust’s work to provide digitised copies of books now is largely justified by the fact that access to physical copies is impossible.

Were a competition investigation to be launched, a key question would therefore be how the market is defined, and whether allowing physical books to compete with eBooks could bring a degree more competitiveness to markets for individual works without undermining the possibilities for rightholders to recoup investments.


Are there barriers to entry?

A further step in an assessment of competition is to look at whether there are issues that may be preventing competitors from entering a market, and competing with existing companies by offering cheaper alternatives.

Clearly if we are considering each individual eBook as a separate market, then there is a huge barrier to entry – copyright. But as suggested before, just like other forms of intellectual property, copyright at least originally had a form of economic logic.

But even if we look at academic eBooks as a whole, there can also be challenges. As set out in our interview with Johanna Anderson, publishers can tend to want users to access their eBooks through their platforms.

However, if libraries don’t want to – or can’t – buy access to every platform available, the only alternative  is to buy individual eBooks from vendors, but often at prices which have been set many times higher than those of print equivalents. This serves to push libraries towards publisher platforms, despite the fact that the library may only want a small share of the eBooks available there.

The effect of this is, effectively, to push libraries towards buying access to bigger platforms, potentially at the expense of spending on smaller, newer publishers.

This risks creating a barrier to entry by smaller players (or forcing them out of the market) by making it more difficult for libraries to allocate money more freely between publishers on the basis of what users actually want.

This situation is similar to that already seen with the ‘big deals’ offered for bundles of journals, which a number of countries are beginning to seek to abandon, even at the risk of losing access to content that researchers and students want.

In the trade eBook sector, there can also be issues with barriers to entry, for example when libraries or library systems are obliged to buy a fixed number of books.

The same goes when it is possible to sell bestsellers under terms that mean that they ‘capture’ large share of library budgets, leaving less space for new or emerging voices. In each case, established players gain an advantage that risks creating barriers for others.

A competition investigation here could shed more light on the subject of whether specific practices of bundling, or minimum purchases, have a negative effect on new entrants or customers.


Is there market power?

A final issue to explore, linked to the question of barriers to entry, is whether a particular player enjoys market power.

This implies that one side of the equation (a producer or buyer) has a freedom to change conditions – for example by raising or lowering prices, or imposing tougher or looser terms – and the other has little option but to accept, for example because there is no alternative.

This can be a real concern for libraries faced with demand from users – from readers coming to a public library, to students or researchers at an academic one.

As already underlined in the previous section, the way that the academic eBook market works can make it possible to increase prices steeply while libraries have little option other than to accept, or face frustration from users.

Similarly, the work carried out by the library eLending project in Australia has underlined to what extent libraries’ choice is limited given their need to meet patron demand. As a result, rightholders have a broadly free hand to set higher prices, although of course may themselves lack the information to do so effectively.

The particular situation of libraries – in particular their mission, often set out in law, to meet the information needs of users – can make them particularly vulnerable to exercise of market power.

A competition investigation could take the information already gathered in Australia, and look to understand more broadly the degree to which libraries are constrained in decision-making, and to what extent this is allowing prices and terms for eBooks that would otherwise be impossible.


Clearly, this blog has drawn only on a limited number of examples, and can only point at possibilities, rather than draw any conclusions. Nonetheless, competition investigations into the library market are not a new idea.

In 2018, the European Universities Association proposed one looking at broader scholarly publishing, and a group of individual researchers have sought to launch a case on a specific company, as did UK researchers on the subject of non-disclosure agreements in particular.

So far, eBooks have tended not to attract quite the same attention as other fields, but with it uncertain for how long libraries are going to need to be primarily digital institutions, there may be value in a deeper look.

With public and institutional funding likely to become scarcer in the coming years, ensuring it is well spent is going to be a priority.


[Corrected on 26 May 2020 to underline that the reference to concentration in the academic market should have emphasised journals, rather than books]

The 10-Minute International Librarian #1: Check out how your country appears on the Library Map of the World

If you’re working in a busy library, or providing library and information services in a wider organisation, it can be difficult to take a step back.

There are so many issues to resolve locally, urgently, that you can easily lose sight of what is going on elsewhere in your town, city or country, let alone globally.

But faced with challenges, it is empowering to know that you are part of a major and truly global network!

There are millions of librarians and libraries out there, often dealing with similar issues.

So for our first 10-Minute International Librarian exercise, check out how your country appears on the IFLA Library Map of the World.

It’s a great way to see how strong the library the field is, and how far our institutions reach – and so how many librarians there are also with experiences and ideas to share!

Think about how you can use the data – both from your own country, and from others, in your own work – to strengthen your advocacy, to take a wider perspective, to start to think about potential partnerships!

Good luck!

This idea relates to the IFLA Strategy! Strategic Direction 2, Key Initiative 1: Produce, communicate and distribute key resources and materials that inspire the profession


As we publish more ideas, you will be able to view these using the #10MinuteInternationalLibrarian tag on this blog, and of course on IFLA’s Ideas Store! Do also share your ideas in the comments box.

Library Stat of the Week #19: Countries with more librarians tend to have fewer low-skilled adults

So far, our sub-series of Library Stat of the Week posts focused on equality has looked only at income inequality (see #16, #17 and #18).

Yet income is often an indicator, rather than a cause, of inequalities in society, even if it can also reinforce them. Therefore, some people may have low revenues while others have high ones for a number of reasons – health, unemployment, a lack of entrepreneurship opportunities.

A key driver of course is education and skills – human capital. These affect the ability of individuals to take up quality jobs, or to start their own businesses, as well as to benefit fully from the information around them.

At a societal level, skills increase the productive potential of economies, while also contributing to civic engagement and participation.

Inequalities in skills – as well as larger numbers of people with lower levels of skills – can therefore lead not only to inequalities in employment and earnings, but also differing levels of involvement in civic life.

While schools of course have a major impact on levels of literacy among children, the role of libraries – in particular for literacy – is arguably stronger among adults.

Both through providing continuing access to books in order to maintain levels of literacy, and focused learning opportunities, libraries are major players in lifelong learning, in particular for those who may not have access to training through their employment – or the resources to pay for continuing education.

Therefore, for our 19th Library Stat of the Week, we wanted to look at the relationship between the measures of adult skills created through the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development’s (OECD) Programme for the International Assessment of Adult Competences (PIAAC), and data from IFLA’s Library Map of the World on numbers of public and community libraries and librarians per 100 000 people.

In doing this, we focused in particular on figures on literacy inequality (the points gap between the 5th and 95th percentiles – i.e. between the person with the 5th from lowest and the 5th from highest skills in a representative sample of 100 people from the group), and the share of the population scoring below Level 1 on the PIAAC scale (i.e. with very low skills).

Public and Community Libraries and Librarians vs Skills Inequalities (Points Gap between 5th and 95th Percentile)

The first comparison looks at points gaps between the 5th and 95th percentiles. With each dot representing a country for which both PIAAC and Library Map of the World data is available, a higher figure for the points gap indicates greater inequality in levels between the most and least literate.

The comparison here indicates that that there is, a broad correlation in particular between numbers of public libraries and adult literacy inequality, with more libraries tending to mean less inequality.

While there are some countries with low inequality and low numbers of libraries, there are none with lots of libraries and high inequality. The correlation is, however, weaker between numbers of librarians and literacy inequalities.

Secondly, we can look at the shares of low skilled adults in different countries and numbers.

Public and Community Libraries and Librarians and Shares of Low-Skilled Adults (scoring at Level 1 or less on the OECD PIAAC Scale)

This graph tells a slightly different story. Here, it is the number of librarians that sees the strongest correlations, with more public and community librarians tending to be associated with fewer adults with particularly low literacy. Meanwhile, the relationship is weaker between numbers of public and community libraries, and numbers of low-literate adults.

Once again, there are outliers, with some countries managing low shares of low-skilled adults without higher numbers of librarians, but no country with higher numbers of librarians or libraries also had high shares of less literate adults.


As ever, correlation is not causality, and societies that invest more in ensuring that everyone has access to skills may well also be more likely to invest in libraries and library staff.

Nonetheless, the data would fit with the evidence from the ground that libraries provide a means for people of all ages to maintain their literacy skills, and that library workers, through their understanding of community needs, can help those most in need of support.


Find out more on the Library Map of the World, where you can download key library data in order to carry out your own analysis! See our other Library Stats of the Week! We are happy to share the data that supported this analysis on request.

Gateways to Cultural Diversity: Libraries as multicultural hubs

Cultural diversity is a force for development.

It nurtures a climate of mutual understanding, celebration of differences, and critical thinking to combat pre-conceived notions of the “other”. This is a vital component of building peace, stability, and development.

UNESCO states that three-quarters of the world’s major conflicts have a cultural dimension.

In order bridge these divides, we must begin with the acceptance and recognition of cultural diversity as being central to peacebuilding. This is reflected in UNESCO’s cultural conventions, including the 2005 Convention for the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions.

Fully realising cultural diversity as a driver for development will take cooperation at all levels: from the local to the international, from memory institutions to civil society, individuals to policy makers.

With our mission of facilitating access to information, our role as defenders of free speech, and our responsibility of protecting and sharing the heritage of our communities, libraries are key players.

To celebrate the World Day for Cultural Diversity for Dialogue and Development (21 May) this article will explore and hopefully inspire reflection on some of the ways libraries act as cultural hubs – as gateways connecting our communities to one another, and to diverse expressions of culture the world over.

Access to Culture

International human rights law guarantees the right to culture, to freedom of expression, and to engage in the cultural life of one’s community.

Politically motivated intolerance of different cultures, silencing voices from minority and indigenous groups, and targeted destruction of cultural heritage – these are all very real threats to the enjoyment of these rights by everyone.

In the face of this, libraries have long been champions of free speech and access to information and culture.

Upheld in IFLA’s Code of Ethics for Librarians and other Information Workers, core principles for the work of library and information professionals include:

  • Ensuring access to information for all for personal development, education, cultural enrichment, leisure, economic activity and informed participation in and enhancement of democracy.
  • Rejecting censorship in all its forms.
  • Ensuring that the right of accessing information is not denied to anyone, regardless of their age, citizenship, political belief, physical or mental ability, gender identity, heritage, education, in-come, immigration and asylum-seeking status, marital status, origin, race, religion or sexual orientation.

These principles carry over into the IFLA/UNESCO Public Library Manifesto:

The public library, the local gateway to knowledge, provides a basic condition for lifelong learning, independent decision- making and cultural development of the individual and social groups. It is a living force for education, culture and information, and as an essential agent for the fostering of peace and spiritual welfare through the minds of men and women.

Providing their communities, no matter their identity, with the freedom to read, to access information, and to participate in cultural life is central to libraries’ roles as cultural hubs.

For reflection: how can libraries uphold these key ethical principles in both their physical and digital spaces? Where are the gaps? Which members of your community may not have a platform to express and share their culture, and how might libraries help mediate that?

Preserving our Heritage

The importance of cultural heritage, in all its expressions, lies in its ability to tangibly bridge the gap between generations and between cultures. The experiential quality of monuments and sites, intangible cultural heritage, movable and documentary cultural heritage gives them an incredible potential as learning tools.

To put it simply, heritage places, objects, and expressions can make culture come to life – both for those experiencing their own heritage and those learning and appreciating the culture of others.

Libraries have multiple roles to play in this.


On one hand, preservation and conservation work at libraries help ensure that our documentary heritage can be passed along to future generations.

On the other, access to information regarding the historical study of heritage, and the way culture was written about in the past, gives us a perspective for historical context and lessons-learned. This enhances our ability to improve representation and methodology in the study of culture today.


Beyond the preservation and conservation of documentary heritage, UNESCO’s 2015 Recommendation upholds that the ability to access this heritage is equally important.

This Recommendation encourages member states to provide appropriate legislative frameworks, empowering memory institutions to provide accurate and up-to-date catalogues, and to facilitate partnerships that will enhance access.

Digitisation is an important aspect of access – and indeed when libraries’ doors are closed, an essential pre-condition.

Libraries and documentary heritage professionals are vocal supporters of digitisation policy, and the legal framework that will allow for it. For a good example, please have a look at the Guidelines to Setting up a Digital Unification Project. More information and tips for digitisation is provided online by IFLA’s Preservation and Conservation (PAC) Centres: PAC Frequently Asked Questions.

It is also important to ensure that a more diverse range of content is becoming digitised. IFLA, together with partners in the UNESCO PERSIST project, are working on updating the Guidelines for the selection of digital heritage for long-term preservation. This update seeks to expand on the Guidelines, such as including emerging technologies, to better support practitioners in the preservation of digital heritage.

For reflection: how can the preservation and conservation of cultural heritage be more inclusive? How can expressions of cultural heritage be used as learning tools, while still staying authentic to their core value as traditional social practice? What role can libraries play in connecting their communities to these expressions of cultural heritage? 

Libraries as Multicultural Centres

Libraries exist at an intersection of culture, education, and community, and through this, they become a hub for fostering cross-cultural dialogue and active citizenship.

The IFLA/UNESCO Multicultural Library Manifesto puts this quite clearly:

As libraries serve diverse interests and communities, they function as learning, cultural, and information centres. In addressing cultural and linguistic diversity, library services are driven by their commitment to the principles of fundamental freedoms and equity of access to information and knowledge for all, in the respect of cultural identity and values.

In a world where refusing, silencing, and – at times – destroying evidence of cultural diversity is politically-driven, then providing a space for cultural diversity is a powerful and profound act.

Libraries can lead their communities by example. They can be hubs for dialogue, spaces for performance, repositories for expressions of culture, and providers of services that nurture inclusion.

For reflection: How can libraries best determine what materials and services will best meet the cultural needs of their communities? How can libraries use their position as multicultural hubs in to advocate for more inclusive spaces in their communities? Collecting and sharing success stories can be powerful testimony for the importance of libraries, how can libraries do this more effectively?


Now more than ever, the need to keep connected with one another and with cultural life is felt acutely. As many countries are grappling with the interface of the COVID-19 epidemic, economic hardship, and possibly civil unrest and natural disasters, these are times where support is greatly needed. Culture is connection and comfort, and cultural diversity is a powerful reminder of our shared humanity in the face of hardship.

This period of raised awareness of and participation in culture on digital platforms can be an opportunity for libraries to seek out better ways to keep the door to culture – and connection within their communities – open.


10 Ways to Improve your Advocacy Capacity from Home

The COVID-19 pandemic has brought many proofs of how much libraries matter for their communities.

We have seen high demand for services and resources online and by phone, regrets shared by users about not being able to visit in person, libraries stepping up to help people access the internet or sign up for government support.

All paint a picture of a sector that has a strong focus on public service, and the resilience, resourcefulness and inventiveness to deliver in difficult times. As set out, for example, in Nick Poole’s blog about the future of public libraries, we have a powerful story to tell, and an opportunity to build a new narrative and model that reinforces and guarantees the place of libraries of all types in society.

Yet the difficult times are not necessarily over, with the loss of tax revenue, and stimulus packages launched in many countries likely to lead to cuts in spending in future in order to keep debt under control.

We will need to be as ready as ever to promote a narrative of libraries as cornerstones of literate, informed and participatory societies.

Fortunately, we do not need to wait for restrictions on movement to be lifted to start. There is so much we can do from home! Here are just ten ideas, connected to our advocacy capacities grid, and drawing on our 10-Minute Library Advocate series for improving your readiness.

  1. Build your team: it is perhaps a cliché, but the more you can share responsibilities, the further you can go. Having a group of people ready to get involved both means that even if you’re busy, someone else can take up tasks. Moreover, you can bring together people with different skills in order to do everything from tacking laws and gathering evidence to public speaking and lobbying.
  2. Find out who’s in charge, and do your research: you’ll need to know who is responsible for key decisions about support for libraries. There may be different players or agencies at work – not just in the culture, education or research field, but also those in charge of finance. Try to work out who matters, and do your background research in order to understand what they care about.
  3. Find out what the process is: in every system, there will be a procedure to be followed for taking decisions about whether to support libraries or not. This may be more or less long, and more or less formal of course. However, if you want to influence decisions, it’s worth trying to understand when and how you can provide input most effectively!
  4. Find out where you can access information: linked to the process question, you may also need to be able to react quickly to consultations or proposals. Even if these are public, they may not be easy to find or follow, or only certain groups will be asked proactively for views. Get to know portals where relevant information is posted.
  5. Identify other players who matter: you don’t need to limit your focus to ministers, senior officials or equivalents. Think about which other actors can influence decisions. This could be members of parliaments or local councils, journalists, think tanks or others. They can all be potentially useful contacts for you.
  6. Identify potential partners: it’s not only librarians who think that libraries are important! Indeed, calls for support for our institutions can even be more powerful coming from other groups, such as educators, advocates for access to information, or organisations representing groups which depend a lot on us (researchers, parents, people experiencing homelessness). Think about who is active and with whom you could work.
  7. Gather your stories: to back up your narrative, it is important to be able to provide evidence of why libraries need action from decision-makers. For a lot of people, bringing things to the human level is a powerful way of making them feel real and necessary. Reflect on your own experience, and look through past media coverage to see what you can use. You can also draw on the SDG Stories on IFLA’s Library Map of the World.
  8. Gather your data: in parallel with evidence that brings out the ‘human’ angle, it can also be effective to show at a more ‘macro’ level what libraries are doing. Clearly a lot of the work of libraries is felt in ways that are difficult to measure, especially at the level of entire countries or regions. However, making sure you have key data about numbers of libraries, staff, and users can back up your arguments. Use data from IFLA’s Library Map of the World and Library Stat of the Week to help.
  9. Define your messages: to be effective in your advocacy, you will need to be clear. Both politicians and others are busy, and likely will only be able to remember a few short points or arguments. So based on what you want to say – and what you think your audience wants to hear – work hard to condense your message to make it as short and powerful as possible!
  10. Present your materials: Once you have your messages, your materials and your audiences defined, take a moment to think about how you are going to communicate what you’re doing. Make things visually attractive if possible – pictures can be a great way of grabbing attention on social media for example, while ensure that documents you present are written presented in a way that makes them easy to read and understand.

Good luck!