Multi-Level Library Advocacy

Why do we do advocacy internationally, when the most critical decisions about libraries are taken at the national or local levels?

It’s a question that we often challenge ourselves with at IFLA, given the time and effort we put into our work, for example, with the United Nations, UNESCO, the World Intellectual Property Organization and others.

It can feel hard to answer after day-long meetings where it feels like people are just saying the same thing as they did a year ago, and there is far more talking than listening going on!

However, the fact that organisations and spaces like these exist already offers a pointer. Even though final decisions may be taken at the national or local levels, they are shaped by discussions, processes, recommendations and more elsewhere.

Sometimes this is because everyone realises that there is an interest in coordination or even harmonisation, as policies are less effective otherwise. Sometimes it is just because it is valuable to learn from others (both from their mistakes and successes).

Of course, work done at international level can have a greater or lesser impact on what others do as well, either because of the nature of the policy area (for example, trade rules are tougher than recommendations about education), and the attitudes of individual governments.

By engaging international, IFLA effectively works to influence the actions that in turn influence decisions about libraries. In addition, we also work to make sure that you – members, volunteers, and libraries in general – know about these actions, and can draw on them in your own work.

To explain this process – as we see it – in more depth, take a look at our model. We welcome your ideas and inputs!

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