Monthly Archives: October 2021

The 10-Minute International Librarian #70: be able to explain why Open Access matters

The Open Access movement has radically changed the face of access to scholarly knowledge over the last twenty years.

While it is far from universal (both as concerns disciplines covered, and geography), it has seen a growing share of research published without barriers to access and use, meaning that readers are not dependent on belonging to a (wealthy) institution in order to be able to participate in science.

However, it remains contested. Some still argue that the products of research should still be paywalled, or at least subject to restrictions on access, for example in order to prevent researchers in other countries from having access.

Others point to questions around different business models, and in particular how different ways of covering the costs of publication may risk disadvantaging some, and leading to the (continued) dominance of research outputs from a small sub-set of countries and cultures.

Still others underline risks of reduced impact with insufficient investment in research, the rise of questionable journals,  and underline, correctly, that copyright status should not be the only thing deciding whether it is appropriate to publish something or not.

However, such discussions should not mask the fundamental point that the concept of open access – that no-one should be unable to enjoy their right to benefit from science because of paywalls – remains valid!

It is therefore useful, both for ourselves, and for those around us, to be able to be clear about this goal.

So for our 70th 10-Minute International Librarian exercise, be able to explain why Open Access matters.

There are of course plenty of materials available, with a rich range of organisations already active around OA, preparing explainers and advocacy tools.

Take a look at these, including of course LibGuides produced by colleagues around the world! If needed, try to condense them down into a few powerful sentences.

Think what arguments will work best in your own context – is it about equity, possibilities to work across disciplines, or greater reach for research produced in your context?

Share your favourite resources in the comments box below!


This idea relates to the IFLA Strategy! 1.4 Shape public opinion and debate around open access and library values, including intellectual freedom and human rights

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.

How IFLA’s volunteers are building understanding and action on Open Access

Happy Open Access Week 2021!

How to achieve Open Access – and in particular the theme of this year’s week, ‘it matters how we open knowledge’ – is a question mobilising libraries and library organisations around the world.

With the world far from a situation where all scholarly communication is open, and important questions being raised both about how to avoid creating new inequities and how to avoid inadvertent harm. The value of exploring these questions together, to share perspectives and ensure a more complete picture, is high.

IFLA itself is currently looking again at its own Open Access statement, and looking forward to sharing a revised version in the coming months. In this blog, we wanted to bring together some examples of what volunteers from across IFLA are currently doing to advance understanding and progress the debate.

Open Access and Serials Assessment: our Serials and other Continuing Resources Section dedicated a session at the World Library and Information Congress to the impact of OA on serials assessment, looking at what can be done to tackle a phenomenon which has received a lot of attention – the rise of questionable journals.

The session brought together representatives of publishers and reference platforms (in Latin America, Africa, and global), and looked at the criteria and tools being developed to weed out poor quality journals, and the impact that they have had, highlighting the different approaches open to the topic.

Power of Transformation: OA and Library Collections: our Acquisition and Collections Development Section also focused on Open Access at the World Library and Information Congress, looking at the impacts of open access in their area of focus – collections development.

With perspectives from libraries in developing and developed countries alike, speakers addressed the disruption that OA could cause, and how libraries can respond, as well as the importance of investing in infrastructure.

Drawing on Openly Licenced Materials in Education: the Information Technology Section looked specifically at the use of open access materials and tools in education (Open Educational Resources – OER), and the role that IT systems play in making this work. It noted the role that ICT can play in developing and enhancing OER initiatives, boosting discoverability and quality, while keeping costs under control.

Speakers focused on the leadership role that librarians can play in the movement, including through the open education librarianship movement, as well as how the development of new systems could help ensure easier access to the huge and diverse range of materials available to support learning.

Rights Retention and Open Access: the Academic and Research Libraries Section ran a series of three webinars with Plan S, discussing the latter’s proposals for a strategy on rights retention could apply in different parts of the world. The webinars – for Latin America and the Caribbean, Asia-Oceania, and the Middle East and North Africa/Sub-Saharan Africa – included presentation on the Plan S Strategy, but also opportunities to highlight the impacts that this could have on existing open access practices, as well as raising important questions about different approaches to openness.

Document Supply and Open Access: the Resource-Sharing During COVID (RSCVD) Initiative run by IFLA’s Document Delivery and Resource Sharing Section, the winner of IFLA’s Dynamic Unit Award in 2020, worked closely with Open Access Button in order to enable access to knowledge during the pandemic. The work provided a great opportunity to highlight the power of open access to support research, as well as familiarising more of the field with Open Access Button as a tool.

Open Access Library Publishing: IFLA’s Library Publishing Special Interest Group brings together expertise and experience from around the world in order to discuss practices and models for sustainable and effective publishing through libraries. The Group has organised webinars and other tools to build understanding, including insights around how to manage open access publishing programmes that respond effectively to the needs of researchers and users.

Working with the SDGs, Working with Politicians: Interview with the National Parliamentary Library of Georgia

Engaging with the UN Sustainable Development Goals opens up possibilities for libraries to create connections with United Nations agencies, while focusing initiatives on the individual topics they cover can help build support for the work of our institutions across governments, among politicians.

We talked with Maia Simonishvili, from the National Parliamentary Library of Georgia, to find out about her institution’s experience.


1. How are libraries viewed by politicians in Georgia in general?

Actually, we can describe relations between libraries and politicians as normal for today. They express interest in supporting the development of libraries. For example, the undergoing reconstruction process of the buildings of the National Parliamentary Library of Georgia is funded by government bodies. These buildings are part of the cultural heritage of the city. The same might be said about the technical equipment, software, and new printed collections.  We don’t have private libraries in Georgia, and regional libraries are funded by their municipality. Their services are free of charge, our services are also free of charge for all readers and event organizers. We are proud we serve all citizens equally and we perceive ourselves as real democratic organizations. On the other side, financial circumstances are not always the best, and more support would be better, of course.

2. How did you get the idea to open an SDG library? 

We are glad to collaborate with different cultural and educational institutions as well as government agencies.  We are very thankful to Dr. Sabine Machl, UN Resident Coordinator in Georgia for her support.

Some months ago, Mrs. Mariam Gamezardashvili,  a representative of the Education and International Development Academy offered us to work towards the opening of a new book corner funded by the UN Georgia. In doing this, we have focused on the 17 Sustainable Development Goals, and we have had all these goals in mind while creating a new collection.

3. What did you do around the opening of this?

We choose international manuals and bestsellers in different fields to create a multifaceted collection. The UN Georgia gifted us not only books but needed equipment for the section.  Given the pandemic situation, we had very few public events this year, and the opening event of the SDG library was very joyful for us and our readers. Members of the  Youth Parliament of the Students in Georgia attended the opening and we had an interesting conversation with Dr. Sabine Machl. What is more joyful, we will have further collaboration to develop new programs, and are already seeing donations of materials to the library, for example from the Association of Georgian Alumni of Swiss Universities, via the Swiss Embassy to Georgia.

4. What future plans do you have for it?

I suppose the word “sustainable” was never so meaningful as today. We see how the pandemic is testing the sustainability of our world and all countries at this time. Even our human nature is examined by these events, not only our urban and civic institutions.

On the other side, it is a really good example of why governments and citizens have to take more actions to establish stronger civil societies and structures.

To this end, we are planning to have seminars and programs for our readers. For example, seminars to raise awareness of basic human rights are already planned. Rights to health, women’s rights, and inclusivity will also be covered in our meetings. Lectures for professional development skills, among them skills for startups and project writing will be free for our readers.

Now we are preparing the course in basic programming skills as an online programme. We aim to have different programs that include different goals of sustainable development.

You know, people perceive the term SDG as something too official sometimes – we will try to make it more lively and understandable in the everyday life of citizens.

In fact, the SDG’s areas of focus are familiar to the public. For example, Zero Hunger (SDG1) is  certainly familiar. It is worth mentioning that The Equilibrium, a movement of the National Parliamentary Library of Georgia, works not only for the renewal of libraries but according to its means, delivers food and clothing to underprivileged citizens.

During the first wave lockdown of the Pandemic, Mr. Giorgi Kekelidze, General Director of the Library was working to help older people who didn’t have any possibility to go out and buy products. Of course, we have to mention that we need improvement of social programs in general in the future.

Another SDG is Quality Education (SDG4). The Movement is helping some students to obtain funding for their equipment or their study.  We have to look at SDG goals as ideas for new development programs.

5. What other opportunities have you had to engage with politicians in the work of libraries?

We are working hard to revive regional libraries. You know, we might bring new books and equipment, but salaries and annual budgets are paid by different regional municipalities and it has to be foreseen in their budget too. We have city municipal libraries and new modern media libraries in the city; we have three of them now. We are working with them when they need some support from us, for example, training, information about new standards, IFLA standards, and recommendations, etc.

6. What works well in getting politicians to become more interested and supportive of libraries?

You know, libraries play a crucial role in supporting democracy and ensuring equitable access to information. Libraries are the most democratic places in every country because they are open to all citizens and guests, serve multicultural societies, and ensure their access to information. They have to defend and store banned literature for generations in spite of today’s political views,  they have to improve the lives of underprivileged members, so democracy is an inbuilt characteristic of the library.

We are open to all political parties and institutions, who want to host events or attend them. The National Parliamentary Library of Georgia welcomes any guests, who play an important part in developing and supporting the independence of Georgian Statehood. We are one of the oldest and newest countries at the same time, which explains some turbulent events in the country. Our library has hosted many political events, discussions, presentations with the participation of all political sides.

7. What impact has this engagement had so far?

The pandemic made it clear that we need stronger digital services to reach our full audience. For example,  The National Parliamentary Library of Georgia has to defend its collections for further generations by the law. This time, our library received some financial support from the Parliament to implement needed software to add bar codes to printed materials and to make the lives of our readers easier.

On the other side, it is the space where members of different “bubbles” create the whole society.  Actually, all political representatives have been readers of our library. We also have had fruitful engagements with different embassies; their audiences are our readers as well. We welcome events with the participation of emigrants, parties, guests, who share their creativity and knowledge with each other. It is the place, where some members of our society meet each other for the first time.

We are always happy to see such events, which make their lives more versatile and joyful.  In the last few years, our audience has grown faster with different events for all kinds of readers.  We hope very much that the end of the pandemic will be celebrated with the whole library audience.

Libraries Provide a Window to the World: UN World Day for Audiovisual Heritage

The UN World Day for Audiovisual Heritage (27 October) raises awareness of the urgent need to take action towards acknowledging the importance of audiovisual material and preserving it for future generations.

These materials record and transmit stories, sharing the cultures, creativity, and memory of people from the past and today, from all around the world. Ensuring that this material remains accessible, and that people can benefit from it, is one way that libraries contribute to promoting multiculturalism.

As the IFLA/UNESCO Multicultural Library Manifesto sets out, the missions of multicultural library services include safeguarding linguistic and cultural heritage and giving support to expression, creation and dissemination in all relevant languages, and supporting the preservation of oral tradition and intangible cultural heritage [read the full Manifesto here].

These values are central to the theme for this year’s World Day for Audiovisual Heritage celebrations – “a Window to the World”.

The UN values audiovisual heritage as an “affirmation of our collective memory and a valuable source of knowledge”. The contribution of libraries helps people engage with the cultural, social and linguistic diversity of their communities and beyond, to celebrate it, and through this, to promote a culture of peace.

IFLA PAC Centres Preserving Audiovisual Heritage

IFLA’s Preservation and Conservation (PAC) Centre hosted at Qatar National Library has been engaging in a project to safeguard the Arab world’s audiovisual heritage.

Hear from Stéphane Ipert (Director) and Maxim Nasra of the PAC Centre at Qatar National Library for an update on what the library is doing to preserve audiovisual heritage.

Q: What are the challenges associated with preserving audiovisual material?

A: Audiovisual archival documents, given their explicit recognition as an essential component of memory and cultural heritage, pose new problems for archive professionals. This is linked on the one hand to the difficulty of understanding the characteristics of this type of documents, which are new to archivists, and which also poses challenges at the level of methods of processing and preserving them. On the other hand, the weakness and fragility of these documents is a issue for their sustainability.

Unfortunately, audio and video audio recordings are not permanent. Due to their unstable components, internal and external factors can accelerate its deterioration and shorten its life. And reading equipment is rare, especially in the Arab markets. By taking some precautionary measures, we can extend its lifespan and thus preserve its invaluable contents.

 Q: What is the PAC Centre doing for AV Documentary Heritage?

A: Due to the lack of standards and guidelines in the Arabic language, we contacted The International Association of Sound and Audiovisual Archives (IASA) to see if they would be interested to have their preservation standards translated  into Arabic (the run to approximately 600 pages). The Qatar National Library, as an IFLA PAC Regional Center, signed an agreement with the International Association of Sound and Audiovisual Archives (IASA) for the translation, production and distribution into Arabic of the following IASA technical publications:

  • IASA-TC 03 The Safeguarding of the Audiovisual Heritage: Ethics, Principles and Preservation Strategy
  • IASA-TC 04 Guidelines on the Production and Preservation of Digital Audio Objects
  • IASA-TC 05 Handling and Storage of Audio and Video Carriers
  • IASA-TC 06 Guidelines for the Preservation of Video Recordings

These standards will be published in mid-2022.

Last year, in collaboration with the Centre for Arab and Mediterranean Music in Tunisia, the British Library, and UCL-Qatar, our PAC Centre produced a glossary (English – Arabic) of key terms used in audiovisual preservation. This glossary is an ongoing project and will be updated regularly.

It was a prerequisite to start a survey of audiovisual collections across the MENA region and especially in Gulf region. The aim is to understand the needs and challenges of institutions in order to build their capacities and strengthen knowledge and information exchange.

This project is ongoing because of the pandemic and limited staff availability. Now the project has resumed and should be finished by the end of 2022. We may work in cooperation with Athar-center in Sharjah (ICCROM -Arabic region) which shows a lot of interest for that topic.

Find the survey here.

The survey is still open, and we encourage institutes to reply to it. From the responses we have received and will get in the coming months, we hope to highlight the needs and  challenges for this type of collection in the region.

We also encourage the digitisation of such collections. This is a necessity because support and reading machines are fragile. Digitisation is a way to avoid the wear and tear of inevitable decades of trying to extend the life of audiovisual libraries.

Qatar National Library also acquired the adapted equipment and has started the digitisation of its collection. We also provide cheap services for other institutions in the region. In 2022 we hope to organise 1 or 2 courses on this topic here in Doha, Qatar.

Find out more about the PAC Centre hosted at Qatar National Library here.

Arabic speakers can access past events on Audiovisual Heritage hosted by Qatar National Library at the following links:

IFLA’s Audiovisual and Multimedia Section

Within IFLA’s professional structures, the Audiovisual and Multimedia Section brings together an international group of professionals who are committed to creating, collecting, describing, preserving, and providing access to audiovisual and multimedia content.

Learn more about the Section and their work here:

The Coordinating Council of Audiovisual Archives Associations (CCAAA), on which IFLA participates, has curated more information and a list of publicly-accessible events.

Find out more on their website:

Take Further Action: the 2015 Recommendation

The World Day for Audiovisual Heritage is also a call for UN Member States to evaluate their performance towards implementing the 2015 Recommendation Concerning the Preservation of, and Access to, Documentary Heritage, Including in Digital Form.

Did you know IFLA provides a checklist that can help you assess the progress being made in your country, and potential gaps to which libraries may be able to contribute?

Mark World Day for Audiovisual Heritage by taking action:

  1. Are you familiar with UNESCO’s 2015 Recommendation? Refer to IFLA’s briefing to learn more about the Recommendation and how libraries can make an impact.
  2. Use IFLA’s 2015 Recommendation Checklist to assess the progress being made in your country to preserve and provide access to documentary heritage
  3. Share what your library is doing to preserve and provide access to audiovisual material on social media using the hashtags: #AudiovisualHeritageDay #AudiovisualHeritage

Get in touch for assistance:



The 10-Minute International Librarian #69: Be able to explain why information literacy matters

 To make the most of information, people need to have the skills to be confident, competent users.

Libraries have long known this, supporting students and researchers in navigating through available resources, in particular in order to improve research.

As information has become more and more abundant, the need to make choices about what to trust, and how to do this, has become an issue in almost all aspects of society.

The most high-profile examples are of course around deliberate misinformation (or ‘fake news’), in particular on social media.

But in many elements of life, the availability of reliable information does not necessarily mean that the people who need it are able to use it.

However, with policy often made by people who are already confident users of information – digital and otherwise – the importance of helping people develop information literacy is often overlooked.

Global Media and Information Literacy (MIL) Week, which falls this week, is an opportunity to correct this, and secure the support needed to provide meaningful information literacy skills to all.

So for our 69th 10-Minute International Librarian exercise, be able to explain why information literacy matters.

Take a look of course in particular at what is taking place this week, in the context of Global MIL Week in particular.

But also think about examples of how information literacy has helped people achieve their goals through your library.

Alternatively, think about what the costs of a lack of information literacy are – what opportunities do people miss out on?

And then, think about how you can present this argument to a busy decision-maker, ensuring that they also understand the importance of information literacy for all!

Share your arguments and examples in the comments box below.

Good luck!


This idea relates to the IFLA Strategy! 1.1 Show the power of libraries as drivers of sustainable development.

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.

The 10-Minute International Librarian #68: Think of a barrier to collaboration

Librarianship is arguably a naturally collaborative profession.

We work together to develop services, to share resources, and of course – through associations at the national, regional and global levels – to develop common understanding, standards and positions.

We also know that collaboration is good for us, and for the services we offer.

IFLA’s Global Vision process underlined this point, setting out how respondents globally valued working together. They even suggested that we needed to do more to make collaboration an instinct – something at the heart of our work!

It’s therefore important to try and understand what might be stopping us from doing more here?

So for our 68th 10-Minute International Librarian exercise, think of a barrier to collaboration.

Try to think of a time when you could have worked with someone else – a colleague in your institution or another library, or even someone outside of the library field in general.

Why didn’t you do this, and could you do something about it?

For example, if time is a concern, is it possible that collaboration would in fact have saved you more time than you would have used for it.

Is it different goals and priorities? If collaboration would be helpful, is there a way of getting better alignment?

Share your experiences in the comments box below.

Good luck!


This idea relates to the IFLA Strategy! 3.2 Support virtual networking and connections.

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.

The 10-Minute Digital Librarian #10: Explore digital literacy resources

The previous posts in this sub-series of 10-Minute Digital Librarian posts have focused on the importance of protecting yourself, and your users, online.

However, when we only think about internet use in terms of protection against bad things happening, this risks creating a sense of fear or uncertainty.

This can put users off, holding them back from discovering new information and services, reducing the benefits that they can draw from the internet.

An alternative is to look at how to ensure that people feel empowered to use the internet effectively. How can they gain the confidence to go online and make full use of the opportunities they find there, without putting themselves at risk?

This, in broad terms, is how we define digital literacy. As set out in IFLA’s own statement on the subject, when someone is digitally literate, they ‘can use technology to its fullest effect – efficiently, effectively and ethically – to meet information needs in personal, civic and professional lives’.

Just as libraries have a role in supporting literacy in general, many have become key players in efforts to promote digital participation through providing connectivity and access to hardware. It is only one step further to start offering support in building skills (one that many have already taken).

So for our 10th 10-Minute Digital Librarian exercise, explore digital literacy resources.

In some cases, library associations themselves bring together materials or create their own, as is the case with the Public Library Association in the United States.

Elsewhere, organisations focused on supporting libraries have developed tools, such as the Digital Travellers project originally developed by Libraries Without Borders.

The Technology and Social Change Group at the University of Washington, developed materials to promote digital literacy specifically with mobile phones, and has already promoted these through libraries.

You can also of course look beyond the library field – there are many organisations working on digital inclusion and skills projects, although of course it is important to reflect on whether what is being offered will meet the needs of your community.

One useful approach is to try out available tools for self-assessment, for example the DQ test developed by the DQ Institute in Singapore, whose standard has been adopted by the IEEE.

There will be other tools you can find which can help you – and your community – assess what sort of support would be most useful.

Let us know which resources you have used which are most powerful in helping build digital literacy

Good luck!


If you are interested in issues around digital safety and privacy more broadly, you should take a look at the work of IFLA’s Libraries for Children and Young Adults Section, as well as our Advisory Committee on Freedom of Access to Information and Freedom of Expression.

Discover our series of 10-Minute Digital Librarian posts as it grows.