Tag Archives: Library advocacy

Upcoming Advocacy Opportunities

Making the most of ‘international days’ and other events for communication and advocacy can be a great way to join the wider conversation, and underlined both the relevance of libraries, and the need for support in order to realise our potential.

Even as we look to clear our desks before the holiday period in many parts of the world, it’s worth already taking a look ahead to the main opportunities coming in the first half of 2022.

IFLA will mark each of these, producing new materials or highlighting existing ones that are relevant. You can take a look through, pick the ones that are closest to your work – and your interests – and think about how to get involved.

Your contribution can be anything from simply reposting social media (either to help non-library people in your network see the importance of libraries, or to get professional colleagues thinking about wider policy issues), posting a blog, attending an event or meeting, or even organising your own!



  • 1 January – Public Domain Day: This is when, under copyright law, protections on copying and using works from a range of authors are lifted. It gives new possibilities for libraries to make their works available to users, enabling wider access – a list is available on Wikipedia. There’s also an event organised by the Internet Archives and others celebrating sound recordings which enter into the public domain in 2022, to be held on 20 January. IFLA will mark the day with a blog and social media post.
  • 15 January – 5 February: #1Lib1Ref: while much of the activity that takes place around 1Lib1Ref, organised by the Wikimedia Foundation is focused on strengthening the quality of Wikipedia through the knowledge of library and information professionals, it is also a chance to underline the importance of information literacy and access to knowledge. Find out more on the 1Lib1Ref website!
  • 24 January – International Day of Education: This is a relatively new UN observance, focusing on the role of education in supporting development and peace. The formal theme is yet to be announced, but will appear on the UNESCO website. Once the theme is clear, IFLA will prepare an article or blog, focusing on the contribution that libraries are making to education.



  • 7-16 February – Commission on Social Development: The 60th meeting of the United Nations’ Commission on Social Development takes place in February, bringing together Member States to discuss in particular the need to fight poverty and hunger in the wake of COVID-19. There may be opportunities to approach relevant parts of government (or representations to the United Nations) to encourage them to highlight the work that libraries are doing, or could be doing with the right support. IFLA will prepare a note and communications in the run-up to the session.
  • 8 February – Internet Safety Day: this is a growing observance, although not yet officially recognised by the United Nations. It has already seen strong library mobilisation in previous years, focusing on the role our institutions can play in giving people the knowledge and skills to become safe and confident internet users. In particular, it can be a great opportunity to build partnerships with other actors in this space. IFLA will be sharing examples of libraries’ work on the topic.
  • 20 February – World Day of Social Justice: this day comes from work at the International Labour Organisation to promote social justice and policies that promote it. It refers not only to justice in the world of work, but more broadly across society, with themes such as race and the digital environment taken up in recent years. The theme for 2022 has yet to be announced, but when it is, it will appear on this page. IFLA will plan for engagement once the theme of the Day in 2022 is known.



  • 3-5 March: African Regional Forum for Sustainable Development: the eighth such event will be organised in Kigali, Rwanda, under the theme: Building forward better: A green, inclusive and resilient Africa poised to achieve the 2030 Agenda and Agenda 2063. It will bring together UN and African Union officials, governments and NGOs, and develop a summary, key recommendations and declaration which feeds in to the High Level Political Forum. IFLA’s Sub-Saharan Africa Regional Division Committee will have a key role in preparing plans for a side-event and wider participation.
  • 8 March: International Women’s Day: the theme of the day in 2022 will be ‘Changing Climates: Equality Today for a Sustainable Tomorrow’. Further information will be issued in due course, but this is of course an opportunity to highlight how libraries are promoting equity, for example as highlighted in IFLA’s review of plans to deliver on the Beijing Platform and Plan of Action. We will look to work, in particular through our Women, Information and Libraries Special Interest Group, to prepare effective communications around the day.
  • 8-10 March: Forum of Countries of Latin America and the Caribbean on Sustainable Development: we are still waiting for further information about the plans for this event, with no website yet online. Information will likely be shared on the general site for the Forum. Once information is available, IFLA’s Latin America and Caribbean Regional Division Committee will have a key role in preparing plans for a side-event and wider participation.
  • 15-17 March: Arab Regional Forum for Sustainable Development: we are still waiting for further information about the plans for this event, with no website yet online. Information will likely be shared on this page. Once information is available, IFLA’s Middle East and North America Regional Division Committee will have a key role in preparing plans for a side-event and wider participation.
  • 28-21 March: Asia-Pacific Regional Forum for Sustainable Development: the 2022 session of the forum will focus on the theme: “Building back better from COVID-19 while advancing the full implementation of the 2030 Agenda in Asia and the Pacific”. A website has already been prepared, and an agenda is available, highlighting in particular items focused on the theme of the Forum as a whole, the SDGs in focus in 2022 (4, 5, 14, 15 and 17 – see above), and on countries undertaking Voluntary National Reviews in 2022. IFLA’s Asia-Oceania Regional Division Committee will have a key role in preparing plans for a side-event and wider participation.



  • 6-7 April: UNECE (Europe) Regional Forum on Sustainable Development: we are still waiting for further information about the plans for this event, with no website yet online. Information will likely be shared on this page. Once information is available, IFLA’s Europe Regional Division Committee will have a key role in preparing plans for a side-event and wider participation.
  • 21 April: World Creativity and Innovation Day: the first of a series of days in the space of less than a week focusing on promoting new ideas and expressions, this one looks at the role of creativity and the creative economy in supporting development. The theme of this year’s celebration has yet to be released, but will be available on the UN website in due course. IFLA will highlight the role of libraries in supporting creativity and innovation.
  • 23 April: World Book and Copyright Day: an important one for libraries, this is a chance to underline the importance of books in supporting wellbeing and development, and in particular in the case of libraries, the need to ensure that everyone has equitable access (including through promoting balanced copyright systems). Many libraries and associations already plan events and actions around this day already. Global celebrations are planned by UNESCO, with further information to be available on the website in due course. IFLA will plan for communications around the day early in 2022.
  • 25 April – 8 May: UN Conference on Biodiversity: delayed from last year, the UN Conference on Biodiversity marks an important milestone in the implementation of the Convention on Biodiversity, itself a key pillar of sustainability. Libraries have the potential to use the event to celebrate their work in preserving information about biodiversity, as well as supporting research. IFLA will produce a blog or story to mark the day.
  • 26 April: World Intellectual Property Day: the final in the series of related events looks more broadly at intellectual property of all sorts. The theme this year will be IP and Youth: Innovating for a Better Future. While the website has yet to be updated, information should be available here in due course. IFLA will look to prepare an article and social media around the day.



  • 3 May: World Press Freedom Day: an important day for marking the importance of freedom of expression, IFLA has in the past highlighted how libraries are supporting journalism, as well as promoting the media and information literacy that can go hand-in-hand with press freedom. This year’s focus will be ‘Journalism under Surveillance’, highlighting the importance of privacy for freedoms, with a main conference held in Uruguay. Find out more on the Day’s website. IFLA will follow preparations, and look for opportunities to stress how libraries are contributing to freedom of expression.
  • 5-6 May: UN Multi-Stakeholder Forum on Science, Technology and Development: this is an annual meeting, looking to explore in particular the role of science and innovation in supporting development. Falling just a couple of months before the High-Level Political Forum, it also provides an opportunity to contribute ideas and insights. Details are still to be published, but in general, this is a chance to talk about the importance of open science for development, and the role of libraries in enabling this connection to be made. IFLA will share details about how to follow the session, and potentially bid for a side-event.
  • 17 May: World Telecommunications and Information Society Day: driven in particular by the International Telecommunications Union (ITU), this focuses on the role of communications and technology in supporting the achievement of wider development goals. Again, not much information is yet available, but IFLA will share more about the theme and planned events on this when it becomes available, and opportunities to be involved. There is already information around the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) Forum, which will open in March, but come to a conclusion in early June. IFLA will consider bidding for a side-event, and share information about sessions that could be of interest.
  • 21 May: World Day for Cultural Diversity for Dialogue and Development: this day celebrates the importance of protecting and promoting cultural diversity both as a valuable end in itself, and as a driver of progress. Details about the theme of the day will be published in due course on the UN website, but it is an opportunity to celebrate what libraries are doing both to preserve and promote diverse materials, as well as to encourage creativity. IFLA will plan for a publication and social media around the day, and potentially more depending on the theme.



  • 5 June: World Environment Day: the 2022 edition of World Environment Day will focus on the theme of ‘only one earth’, and discuss the importance of living in harmony with nature. Sweden will host events, marking 50 years since the Stockholm Conference which led to the establishment both of this Day, and of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP). The day will be an opportunity to highlight both what libraries are doing to reduce their own environmental impacts, but also to look at how our institutions are contributing to wider sustainability. IFLA will produce an article and social media at least around the day.
  • 20 June: World Refugee Day: libraries in many countries are strongly engaged in helping refugees and other newcomers to communities not just to integrate and develop skills, but also to find wellbeing, and maintain contacts with their friends, families, and cultures. World Refugee Day is an opportunity to highlight this work, and the need for wider investment to support those who have been forced to leave their homes. The specific theme of the 2022 day has yet to be announced, but this information will appear on the UN website in due course. IFLA will plan a publication around the day, and potentially more depending on the theme.
  • 26-30 June: World Urban Forum: this biennial event takes place in Katowice, Poland, under the theme Transforming our Cities for a Sustainble Urban Future. It is the primary UN-organised event around urban policy, bringing together national and local governments, experts, and NGOs from around the world in order to talk about how to build sustainable cities and communities (SDG11), as well as to deliver on the New Urban Agenda. IFLA has already responded to the concept note for the event, and will plan for engagement highlighting how libraries make a reality of digital and cultural rights, and promote regeneration and positive transformation.

The 10-Minute International Librarian #73: Think of a communications tool that works well on you

Communication is an important part of impact.

It allows us to engage more effectively, both with users and with the decision-makers who determine the future of our institutions and profession.

Improving our ability to talk about what we do and why it matters is therefore essential.

Fortunately, it’s also an area where there is plenty of experience and inspiration out there.

From advertising to political campaigning, and from education to public information, we come across good – and potentially bad – communications all of the time.

Crucially, we can be reflective. Given that we are the target of so much communication ourselves, each of us can bring to the table our own experience of what is most effective, and draw on this in our work.

So for our 73rd 10-Minute International Librarian exercise, think of a communications tool that works well on you.

What have other people done that made you pay attention, better understand an issue, or even change your mind?

Was there a specific tool, approach, or format that made thus communication more effective?

Is this something that you can do in your own work to communicate the value of your work?

Let us know about what you have learnt from others about communication in the comments box below.

Good luck!


This idea relates to the IFLA Strategy! Key Initiative 4.4: Increase our visibility through excellent and innovative communications

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.

What advocacy activities are libraries undertaking? Analysing the Results of the IFLA Regional Advocacy Priorities Study (Part 2)

IFLA’s Regional Advocacy Priorities Study collected responses from library associations, institutions, and individuals in June and July of 2021 in order to build up an understanding of the status of library advocacy in the world today.

Its goal is to get library and information professionals around the world (and in particular in IFLA’s new Regional Council and Division Committees) thinking critically about library advocacy.

As set out in the first part of this blog last week, reflection is important. Our time and energy is far from infinite, and so we need to keep on asking ourselves how to use it most effectively. Priorities change, so too do circumstances.

The same reflection is necessary around the way in which we advocate.

As such, the Study included a question about the degree to which libraries in different countries carry out different types of activity as part of their advocacy efforts. You can read the full answers on p56 onwards of the Report.

The question draws on IFLA’s Advocacy Capacities Grid, which aims to break down the different elements of advocacy. It is a tool, allowing libraries to think about where they are already strong, and where they may be able to do more.

It recognises, in particular, that advocacy involves a range of steps, reaching from what can be seen as lobbying (working with politicians, around specific legal changes) to broader public relations.

A first set of activities relate to engagement with laws and lawmakers – practices which are more at the ‘lobbying’ end of the spectrum of advocacy:

  1. Understanding laws and policies: this refers to the ability of libraries to understand the content of laws and policies, and follow the process by which they are developed and approved. This matters, if libraries are to be able to spot issues and seize opportunities on a timely basis to obtain better laws and policies (or avoid bad ones)
  2. Contacts with government officials: this refers to whether libraries have a strong network of contacts with ministers and civil servants who prepare and take decisions which can shape the situation facing libraries.
  3. Meet regularly with government officials: this refers to the particular importance of being able to talk regularly with policy-makers and shapers. Such meetings are both an opportunity to share views and build common understanding, as well as being important in order to respond to emerging issues.
  4. Contacts with legislators: in addition to work with the executive, it can also be powerful to work with members of parliament. They are important not only when voting on law, but can also help hold governments to account when they are not doing enough for libraries, or even propose laws that could help libraries in their work.

A second set focuses on who carries out advocacy work:

  1. Staff focused on advocacy: this refers to whether there is a named individual or individual who is responsible for carrying out advocacy on behalf of libraries. Allocating responsibility can help with coordination of work, as well as allow for the development of relationships and knolwedge.
  2. Members as advocates: this refers to whether individuals across the library field are mobilised to advocate for libraries. This can help ensure that libraries can engage effectively at the local level, as well as making the voice of libraries stronger.

A third set looks at communications:

  1. Attractive communication tools: this refers to the ability of libraries to create communication tools which are professional and appealing. This is important if libraries are to be able to seize people’s attention.
  2. Impact communication: this refers to the ability to present evidence of the impact of libraries, for example through collecting powerful stories of how libraries contribute to development, or to share data. This can help convince people of the need to support libraries.

A fourth set looks at working with and through others to deliver on advocacy goals:

  1. Contacts with journalists: this refers to whether libraries have relationships with the press and other commentators or influencers. This can allow library messages to be heard by a wider audience, potentially in a way that is more effective than if libraries communicate themselves!
  2. Partnerships: this refers to relationships with other organisations and stakeholders who can support library advocacy, such as non-governmental organisations. They can open up possibilities to build new contacts, and convince new audiences.

Finally, there is evaluation:

  1. Advocacy impact evaluation: this refers to the capacity to assess the impact of advocacy efforts in order to inform future work. It is an important step in order to ensure continuous improvement in the effectiveness and reach of your work.


As set out in the previous blog, the study is limited by the number of respondents. It should therefore not be taken as a definitive snapshot of advocacy around the world, but rather a conversation starter.

To help with this, the study breaks down responses by region, by type of respondent (association, institution, individual), and by size (of association and institution), allowing us to highlight interesting trends in library advocacy practices around the world.

Looking at the answers to the question around advocacy activities, we can therefore identify the following potential findings, as a basis for further discussion.

Libraries focus more understanding laws, than engaging with lawmakers: a consistent finding across regions was a tendency to more active in work to keep track of laws, and understand what they mean, than to engage with decision-makers (and in particular, members of parliament).

Chart 1: Level of activity on different elements of advocacy - results for all respondents (by region)

Chart 1: Level of activity on different elements of advocacy – results for all respondents (by region)

Clearly, understanding laws is important, in order both to be able to follow them, and to understand and set out how they can be improved. Yet relations with decision-makers matter, given that in the end, they are the ones determining whether libraries will get the policies and provisions they need.

It is particularly interesting that legislators receive least attention. It is true that a single member of parliament is likely to have less power than a minister, but they can be powerful advocates, and may be freer in making proposals than those in government already.

Chart 2: Level of activity on different elements of advocacy - association respondents only (by region)

Chart 2: Level of activity on different elements of advocacy – association respondents only (by region)

Looking in particular at associations, it is also notable that the place of this engagement varies by region.

In Europe, North America and the Middle East and North Africa, understanding laws and maintaining contacts with decision-makers stand out as areas of focus. Meanwhile, for associations in Asia-Oceania, these activities stand out less, while in Latin America and the Caribbean, and Sub-Saharan Africa, they play a relatively smaller role than other types of activity.

Chart 3: Level of activity on different elements of advocacy – association respondents only (by size of association)

There is also a distinction between larger and smaller associations, with larger players more likely to be involved in engaging with law and lawmakers. This may be explained by the fact that this sort of engagement does require time and resources which may be less readily available for smaller players.

This raises an interesting challenge – what can be done to strengthen the ability of smaller associations to carry out these aspects of advocacy?


A varying focus between dedicated advocacy capacity and mobilising the field: as highlighted above, it is important both to have named individuals who can lead and coordinate advocacy work, and to enable librarians everywhere to speak up in favour of our profession and institutions.

In almost all regions of the world, there is a stronger emphasis on helping individual librarians to act, than on building a central capacity for advocacy, with only North America focusing more on the latter (see chart 1 above).

Nonetheless, the gap is not a wide one in Asia-Oceania, Europe, and North America. It is wider, however, in Latin America and the Caribbean, the Middle East and North Africa, and Sub-Saharan Africa, indicating a potential area of focus for capacity-building.

Looking specifically as associations, the picture is different. In Asia-Oceania, Europe, Latin America and the Caribbean, and North America, there is a slightly stronger focus on dedicated advocacy capacity, while in the Middle East and North Africa and Sub-Saharan Africa, a lot more effort goes into mobilising members.

Turning in particular to associations of different sizes (see chart 3), the data indicates that larger players may be more focused on dedicated advocacy capacity, while smaller ones emphasise mobilising their memberships more.

In the end, the goal must be to ensure a similar focus on these two elements, and so learning how to develop both types of capacity, in order to support advocacy that is as strong as it is coordinated.


Partnerships complement libraries’ own efforts: as highlighted above, forming partnerships can be a powerful way of supporting library advocacy by recruiting a wider range of voices, able to reach out to a wider audience.

In general, the importance of building such partnerships appears already to be well recognised . Looking across all respondents, by region (see chart 3), in Asia-Oceania and North America, it appears to be the element of advocacy where there is most activity. In every other region, it is in the top three or four elements of advocacy.

The same does not go for contacts with journalists – it is only in the Middle East and North Africa, and in Europe, where there is the same level of activity in working with them as in partnerships in general. In Latin America and the Caribbean, and in North America, there is a significant gap.

Looking only at associations, the picture is similar – there is more activity around forming partnerships than working with journalists, with the exception of the Middle East and North Africa where the scores are equal (see chart 2).

Turning to associations of different sizes, it is notable that while the focus on partnerships is relatively similar, it tends to be bigger associations who work more work with journalists (see chart 3).

Overall, there is a welcome strong focus on partnerships across the board, but evidence that there may be some benefit in helping smaller associations develop their ability to engage with the media.


Communications plays a key role in respondents’ advocacy, but with varying responses for content and design: around the world, the importance of being able to communicate evidence of the value of the work of libraires, in an effective way, seems to be well recognised when looking at all respondents. Indeed, in Latin America and the Caribbean, the Middle East and North Africa and Sub-Saharan Africa, both of these are in the top three in terms of level of activity (see chart 1).

Looking only at associations, these two elements stand out less strongly, although the Middle Eastern and North African and Sub-Saharan African associations still focus strongly on these compared to associations from other regions (see chart 2).

As for associations of different sizes, smaller associations tend to focus more strongly on content, while larger ones indicate that they focus more on the presentation of materials – something that may be associated with the fact that they have more resources available for design work (see chart 3).

Looking across these results, it may be possible to conclude that when faced with more limited resources, many may decide to focus on communications which can be sent to a variety of stakeholders, rather than concentrating on individual decision-makers. Certainly, this work can play a useful role in trying to shape broader public opinion, and indeed there may be useful lessons to share about how to do communications on a small budget.


Evaluation underrelated?: a final point to note is the relatively low level of investment of energy in the evaluation of advocacy efforts. Indeed, looking at all respondents, this comes last in Europe, the Middle East and North Africa, and North Africa, and near-last in Sub-Saharan Africa (see chart 1).

Looking at the data only for associations, impact scores slightly higher among smaller associations than larger ones (potentially because of greater pressure on advocacy resources) (see chart 2). Moreover, associations in Asia-Oceania and Latin America and the Caribbean are also readier to engage, it seems, than those elsewhere.

Overall, it appears that advocacy evaluation may well be an area where there are lessons to share and to learn from.

The 10-Minute International Librarian #72: Be able to explain the costs of not having libraries

It’s normal to try and be positive in advocacy!

Decision-makers will often hear people complaining about not getting what they want, or asking them to come up with solutions.

It is understandable, then, that they are keen to find stakeholders who, instead of offering problems, bring answers.

However, it is always useful to be able to make clear that institutions and communities stand to lose if libraries are cut, or disappear altogether.

This can be a great way of focusing minds, and avoiding worst-case scenarios.

So for our 72nd 10-Minute International Librarian exercise, be able to explain the costs of not having libraries.

Think about what it could mean for education, research or culture. What opportunities would not be open for different members of your community?

What long term consequences could there be for development?

As ever, make sure you can make your arguments clearly and simply, so that they are easy to understand!

Do share your strongest arguments in the comments box below.

Good luck!


This idea relates to the IFLA Strategy! Key Initiative 1.1: Show the power of libraries in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals

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.


Every Association an Advocate: Interview with Jean-Marie Reding, Luxembourg

Library associations have a key role in advocacy for our sector, able to take advantage of their role as civil society organisations to speak freely about what our profession and institutions need to succeed. It is also not only in larger countries that they can develop a capacity to do this.

To find out about the experience of a small country association, we talked to Jean-Marie Reding, Chair since 2003 of the Policy Corps at the Association of Luxembourgish Librarians, Archivists and Documentary specialists (ALBAD):

Panoramic view of Luxembourg city's Grund, at dusk, in 2010.

Luxembourg City. Photo: Benh Lieu Song, CC-BY-SA 3.0: bit.ly/3ALX5AA

How did ALBAD’s Policy Corps come together?

In 2003, one year before national elections, I, as newly elected ALBAD President, wanted to see “Libraries on the agenda” (slogan of IFLA-President Claudia Lux, 2005) in the election programs of our main political parties. In a Lilliput-state as Luxembourg political parties have very few staff; we couldn’t send questionnaires to them hoping for answers. So we contacted the democratic parties with a list, worked out by the ALBAD board, setting out current problems and asked for a visit to talk about it. For the composition of the ALBAD Policy Corps I chose two Board members who were members of a political party, accompanied if possible by one librarian, active in the field, who could explain the difficulties encountered “out there”, with real passion, making politicians’ hearts melt.

What are the advantages of having a group of people focused on policy issues?

Your Policy Corps has to be ready, if you get any requests from political parties between elections when someone needs free “biblio consulting” – with a group, this becomes easier. Moreover, if the Corps members are long-term colleagues, a well-oiled team, there exists the possibility to play right wing librarian against left wing librarian, affecting politically sensible book selection processes in libraries for example, which can be especially funny in meetings with populist parties.

How is it composed – do you have different experiences and skill sets represented?

The best librarians for this lobbying job are the ones belonging to a political party. It even doesn’t matter if they are from a public or academic library! These committed people are simply very interested in politics, know the different ideologies and the politicians to meet from the media (press, TV, etc), or are even personally close to certain politicians. They are talking the same “language”! Having knowledge about library history and especially legislation is important too of course.

How do its members manage to be both public servants, and engaged in politics?

As our Policy Corps members are members of the Executive committee (EC) of a librarian association too, they are automatically and democratically elected to speak in the name of the association. But you can also organise special elections for the Policy Corps. The most important thing is to be elected by a majority of members, and so become official representatives! Civil servants also take advantage of the role of representatives of an association (as for a union) – this means that they can even contradict their own library directors’ opinions! They just need to avoid revealing any internal information of their employers (library).

What sort of activities do you carry out to train yourselves to work most effectively with politicians?

During Executive Committee (EC) meetings the general objectives are fixed on paper, ready to be sent to political parties in the name of the association. EC meetings are also the platform for passionate debates, establishing No-Go-principles, finding a common political basis. Details are often discussed during a social event afterwards. The Policy Corps members are well connected and exchanging important political information by e-mail, from IFLA, EBLIDA and neighbouring countries. The political training is fortunately taken over by the political parties to which some Policy Corps members belong. The escorting “field librarians” just need to talk about their daily job and refer to the well informed Policy Corps members, sitting/staying next to them. This also worked in lobbying meetings with MEPs in Brussels (1 field librarian & 1 Policy Corps Member).

How does working in a smaller country affect the way you work with political parties?

The possibilities we have are different in a tiny country. But like in the USA (ALA Policy Corps in Washington D.C.), every Policy Corps needs to be close to the capital city of your country. This is the case in the Grand-Duchy of Luxembourg indeed, as the 3 permanent members are/were working in the capital.

What have you learnt about how to convince politicians to engage with libraries?

Really almost all politicians are (print-)booklovers! And they normally have their own private library. The most frequent question during political party meetings in the beginning is: How can I protect my books best? You have to reply in 10 seconds: No light, 18 C° temperature, 50% humidity! Then, making them speechless for about 30 seconds, make the connection immediately with the advocacy agenda: do you have all printed books ever published at home? The politician will answer: No, that’s not possible! Your reply: That’s why libraries still exist for 2 000 years …

What results have you seen from this engagement?

The ALBAD Policy Corps worked so well that all political parties contacted since 2003, gave us the opportunity for a meeting face to face, in their offices in Luxembourg-City. Afterwards some even asked us for text proposals for their election programs. 2004 was the 1st year in history that libraries became a part of the elections programs of all big parties. During the government coalition-forming process election programs are compared each another and intersections are put into the government program. So libraries got on the agenda! This is a huge success that we have repeated every five years since 2003!

An important point: you should publish the results, all the library related content of election programs in a special national election newsletter/magazine, for information for your association members of course, but especially, fixed for history, for the next lobbying activities.

What recommendations would you have for other countries?

1. Just copy the idea!

2. Start your lobbying activities at least 1 year before election day!

And 3. Respect the KISS-formula in meetings: Keep it simple, stupid!

Getting Involved in Cultural Heritage Advocacy: European Days of Conservation-Restoration 2021

The European Confederation of Conservator-Restorers Organisations (E.C.C.O.) sets aside a week every year to celebrate Europe’s cultural heritage and the professionals who work to preserve and provide access to it.

It is inspiring to see the preservation and digitisation of books, papers, manuscripts, photographs, and other documentary heritage materials feature during this week. IFLA especially highlights those working to preserve materials that make up the memory of the world, as libraries and library professionals are essential keepers of this cultural heritage.  We explored this further in our blog post for European Day of Conservation-Restoration 2020, which you can read here.

For this year’s European Days of Conservation-Restoration, a social media campaign highlighted good practices and the professionals and institutions involved in this work. However, it also explored other themes, such as heritage at risk, sustainability, and the importance of reaching out and building networks.

This provides a great example for cultural heritage professionals around the world of an accessible way to get involved in advocacy.

Storytelling for Advocacy

Cultural heritage provides a gateway to the vast collective knowledge of humankind; it inspires connection and fuels creativity and innovation.

Cultural heritage professionals can help promote recognition of the potential of cultural heritage for bettering society through engaging in advocacy on how their work makes a positive impact.

The importance of incorporating advocacy and storytelling into cultural heritage conservation practice was among the topics presented by IFLA in a keynote address to the Institute of Conservation (ICON) Book and Paper Group Conference 2021 titled: Inspiring and Informing Development: Advocating for culture in sustainable development.

An important theme of this address was that no one person is too small to make a difference.

The IFLA speaker urged cultural heritage professionals to act boldly – individually and within networks – as advocates, telling stories that help illustrate the value that cultural heritage has for people now and into the future.

Examples – European Days of Conservation 2021

Using online platforms to proactively reach out and tell stories can be effective means by which to connect with community members, policymakers, and fellow professionals.

Participating in celebrations like the European Days of Conservation-Restoration is an excellent opportunity to join voices with others and increase one’s reach.

The E.C.C.O. called for its community of European conservation and restoration professionals to take part in a social media campaign – highlighting stories that invite viewers into their workspaces and highlight the important role they have in safeguarding cultural heritage.

There were several fascinating posts that feature documentary cultural heritage. These posts bring conservation and restoration practice to life, and help other understand the work that goes in to ensuring these materials remain accessible.

Some examples include the Association of Conservator-Restorers in Bulgaria highlighting several institutions that specialise in conservation of works on paper; information-sharing on how documents are preserved from the Samuel Guichenon Collection, Historical University Library of Medicine, Montpellier University; and the National Archives of Malta demonstrates a treatment for paper that has been damaged by iron gall ink.

For more, visit E.C.C.O. on social media: Facebook & Twitter.

Sustainability, Cooperation, and Networking

Beyond highlighting good practice, a goal of this year’s European Days of Conservation-Restoration was also to raise awareness of key aspects of cultural heritage’s role in society, including access and sustainability.

Participants were encouraged to explore this through themes on the preservation of tangible cultural heritage in the view of climate change and the importance of reaching out beyond the sector – involving politics, education, training and research as pillars for cooperation towards sustainability and development.

The social media campaign took this opportunity to raise awareness of several initiatives that are linking cultural heritage with broader development intiatives, such as EU-funded project CLIMATE FOR CULTURE, the Joint Programming Initiative on Cultural Heritage and Global Change, and the Climate Heritage Network.

For example, as part of its #ClimateHeritage Mobilisation @ Climate Fridays webinar series, Climate Heritage Network delivered a webinar on the theme: Building Reuse is Climate Action. A wider audience was invited to attend this programme, which offered a compelling environmental case for building reuse and its part in the goal for zero carbon emissions.

IFLA is a founding member of the Climate Heritage Network. Follow more on IFLA’s involvement with Climate Heritage Network in the coming weeks in the lead-up to COP26.

Everyone can be an advocate

Joining networks, reaching out beyond the sector, and highlighting connections between cultural heritage practice and social issues like sustainability are all ways to get involved in advocacy.

Participating in events such as the European Days of Conservation-Restoration by taking part in social media campaigns and joining virtual events is a low/no-cost action that individuals or institutions can do to begin increasing their involvement in advocacy.

To go back to the key message in IFLA’s recent keynote address on advocating for culture in sustainable development, no one is too small to make a difference.

Library professionals around the world are encouraged to seek out opportunities to highlight their work, and to get in touch with IFLA HQ for help showcasing their own stories.

Contact: [email protected] for more.

The 10-Minute International Librarian #62: Think how to convince someone (in a language they understand)

Being able to win people’s support is so often vital in being able to fulfil your mission in a library.

It can be about convincing colleagues to join you in a project, winning the endorsement of a manager inside or outside of the library, or getting changes to wider laws and policies.

This can unlock resources or new possibilities!

But convincing people can take some preparation, both in terms of your message, and how you convey it.

So for our 62nd 10-Minute International Librarian exercise, think how to convince someone (in a language they understand).

To do this, you need not only to be clear about what it is that you want, but also to reflect a little on how to present it effectively.

What sort of vocabulary would the person you need to convince respond to? Are there buzzwords you can use, or themes you can raise that will get them more interested?

Think also about what tone will work – formal or less formal?

Take a look at – or think about – how the person you are looking to convince communicates themselves, and what seems to work with them.

Let us know about your experiences in the comments box below!

Good luck!


This idea relates to the IFLA Strategy! Key Initiative 1.1: Show the power of libraries in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals.

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 below.