Tag Archives: international organisations

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!

The 10-Minute International Librarian: #29: Think how you can work with local representatives of international organisations

A key focus of our 10-Minute International Librarian series is the idea that you do not need to leave home to be active internationally.

This is true for work with IFLA, but can also be for cooperation with other international organisations, including intergovernmental ones.

This can be a really exciting way to strengthen the work of your national library field through accessing new resources and expertise, as well as increasing the status of libraries.

International organisations can also benefit a lot from working with our institutions.

Alongside the positive reputation of libraries, we can offer great opportunities to display information to the public, as well as reach into communities.

There’s a lot to gain from cooperation!

So for our 29th 10-Minute International Librarian exercise, think about how you can work with local representatives of international organisations.

Use the list prepared in last week’s post as a starting point. Do you have projects or activities around heritage where you could work with local UNESCO commission?

Could you invite the local UN Information Centre or representation to a meeting to talk about the SDGs?

Are there local projects of UN HABITAT or others which could benefit from engaging with libraries?

Have a think about what you could do, and then use this list when setting out your future plans.

Share your ideas in the chat below.

Good luck!


This idea relates to the IFLA Strategy! 1.2 Build a strong presence in international organizations and meetings as a valued partner.

You can view all of our ideas using the #10MinuteInternationalLibrarian tag on this blog, and of course on IFLA’s Ideas Store! Do also share your ideas in the comments box.