Tag Archives: partnerships

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 International Librarian #28: Find Out Which International Organisations are Present in Your Country

The work of international organisations can sometimes seem very distant.

But it doesn’t need to be!

Rather than the big meetings and conferences, the main work of these organisations is often rather what happens on the ground, through support to governments, projects, and outreach.

All of the biggest organisations tend to have regional structures, in order better to manage this work. They are often present on the ground through regional and even national offices.

These can be useful potential contacts. IFLA has done a lot of work to support libraries to engage around the Sustainable Development Goals. Regional and national offices of UN institutions will likely be interested in forming partnerships around this.

But there can be many other areas where there can be interest in working with libraries.

So for our 28th 10-Minute International Librarian exercise, find out which international organisations are present in your country.

Many countries have a United Nations office (see the list of UN country teams), which can also host other organisations, such as UNESCO or the United Nations Development Programme.

Most countries also have UNESCO National Commissions, which provide a liaison between UNESCO as a whole and the national context.  And there are 59 UN Information Centres around the world.

Collect this information, together with information you can gather about the priorities of each of these offices. It can be a great contact list for your work, as we will discuss in next week’s post.

Share your stories of successful collaborations with national or regional offices of international organisations 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.

The 10-Minute International Librarian #24: Think of an advocate for libraries

A big focus of IFLA’s Strategy is building the ability of libraries to advocate.

Wherever decisions are being made about library budgets, or the laws that affect them, there is space for advocacy.

By building understanding of, support for, and commitment to libraries, you can shape these decisions.

Yet sometimes, your message can be even more powerful when it doesn’t come from you.

It can be expected that librarians will support libraries, but you may get more attention when someone else does it.

So for our 24th 10-Minute International Librarian exercise, think of an advocate for libraries.

Ideally, it should be someone who is well known, or who has great advocacy skills, or ideally both. This can help at all levels, from the local to the global.

Finding an advocate can also help bring others to support libraries, prove that people outside of the profession care, and strengthen partnerships.

Let us know who the most effective advocate for libraries from outside of the library field is, in the chat below.

Good luck!


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

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.

The 6 Ps of Libraries and the SDGs

Presentations of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) often highlight their focus on five ‘P’s – people, planet, prosperity, peace and partnerships.

These help underline the different dimensions of the 2030 Agenda, running from the individual to the global, the balance between the different pillars of sustainable development, and the vital role of collaboration in achieving success.

As such, they are a helpful reference point in making sense of a set of goals which are, admittedly wide and complex. While the SDGs are organised around different policy areas, the five ‘P’s arguably work at a more human level, touching on issues that, hopefully, make sense for everyone.

The same device can help in thinking about how libraries themselves contribute to SDG delivery. In this blog, we look not at five, but six ‘P’s of libraries and development. These break down into two sets of three, reflecting both traditional and emerging roles of libraries.


The Traditional Roles: Protectors, Providers, emPowerers

When looking for the first time at the SDGs, the targets that often stand out most for libraries are 11.4 (safeguarding heritage), 16.10 (access to information), and 4.6 (universal literacy). They can serve as a powerful entry point to engagement with the SDGs, underlining the alignment between libraries’ core missions, and the goals set out by world leaders back in 2015.

These goals, in effect, highlight our first three ‘P’s of libraries and the SDGs:

Protectors: libraries, and in particular national and research libraries have a key role in safeguarding our heritage for the future (SDG 11.4). Through this work, they give future generations the opportunity both to enjoy and learn from the past.

While this is an explicit goal in SDG 11.4, it is also implicit elsewhere, not least SDG 16.6 – effective, accountable and transparent institutions. Without the work of libraries and archives to preserve and store documents, it becomes far too easy to hide, and so escape responsibility for, past actions.

Providers: libraries of course have a core function in ensuring equitable access to information, regardless of revenue, through the works in their collections.

SDG 16.10 highlights this in particular, but other goals also stress the importance of access, including 2.3 (access to knowledge in agriculture), 3.7 (access to health information), 9.5 (supporting scientific research) and 13.3 (access to information about climate change).

EmPowerers: Libraries have long understood that meaningful access to information is not just about the availability of information, but the skills to use it. This is why we have librarians! Looking beyond fundamental literacy – the objective of target 4.6 – the SDGs also recognise that wider skills are necessary if we are to achieve development.

For example, target 4.4 focuses on wider skills for life, and 5B underlines the need for women to have the competences necessary to use enabling technologies such as ICTs. Target 17.8 also highlights the need for all to become digitally literate, in order to make full use of the internet.


The Emerging Roles: Portals, Partners, Platforms

Nonetheless, the work of libraries goes further still. What makes this possible is when libraries are able to collaborate, uniting their own unique strengths with those of others, from government, civil society or business.

The other three ‘P’s refer to these collaborations, where libraries increase the impact of the work done by a wide range of different actors in order to achieve the SDGs. In turn, these demonstrate the ability of libraries to contribute to success across the board.

Portals: rather than just providing services themselves, libraries often act as an entry point to services offered by others. From noticeboards and internet access to more active signposting, the library can be a great way for people to access more specialist help or support.

Crucially, visiting the library may not be associated with the same stigma as visiting a job centre or other official building, while the presence of staff can give users the possibility to find their way through the huge volume of information available otherwise.

In turn, libraries help increase the impact of other services by increasing take-up rates among the communities that need them, as well as providing free promotion in general.

Partners: going beyond providing access to services elsewhere, libraries can increase the range of services on offer within the library through forming partnerships. For example, supporting digital skills, running discussion series, or running courses cannot always rest on the shoulders of librarians.

Instead, the library can bring together its own staff, space and nature as a community meeting point with the skills of others – coding clubs, local associations, continuing education centres – in order to provide an offer that drives progress across the SDGs.

Platforms: finally, and faced with the need for efficiency in public spending and effectiveness in wider service delivery, we are seeing increasing examples of libraries acting as platforms for others.

From community healthcare to census sign-up, or from meeting rooms for business to acting as nodes in local WiFi networks, libraries can also provide a unique solution for the delivery of services, even with relatively little day-to-day input from librarians.

In the case of public services, they can mean there is less need for separate offices, and also help residents by providing them with a ‘one-stop-shop’ where they can access both library and other services. In the case of support to the private sector, while there clearly is a need to avoid unfair competition with others, libraries can be a lifeline for smaller emerging businesses that can drive local jobs and prosperity.


The six roles presented here, hopefully, provide a useful tool for thinking through how libraries help deliver not only on the SDGs, but also on any other policy goals. In particular in the case of the last three, it is clear that the contribution of libraries is not restricted to a subset of the SDGs, but can stretch across the 2030 Agenda, and beyond.


See also our infographic highlighting the 20 SDG targets which refer, implicitly or explicitly to the SDGs.

The 10-Minute International Librarian #7: Identify a challenge you have in common with another library

Running or working in a successful library can involve overcoming many different types of challenge.

Resources – time, money, expertise – are always limited, and the demands libraries can face are not only high, but also change over time.

As underlined in previous posts, it can be difficult to find the time to stop, think, identify problems, and find solutions.

Fortunately, engaging in the wider library field – nationally through your association, or globally through IFLA, provides a way of doing this.

In each of our Sections and other committees, there are groups of people committed to exploring the issues libraries must deal with, and finding solutions.

So for our 7th 10-Minute International Librarian exercise, identify a challenge you have in common with another library.

Try not to pick a library that is similar to your own, but rather one in another country, or another library type.

This may be a little more difficult, but will help you find themes where working together could help provide answers!

It can also help you work out in which part of IFLA you want to engage first!

Good luck!


This idea relates to the IFLA Strategy! Strategic Direction 3, Key Initiative 2: Support Virtual Networking and Collections.

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 (especially Opportunity 7)! Do also share your ideas in the comments box.

The 10-Minute International Librarian #5: Think of a Potential Partner

Libraries should never need to be isolated or alone.

Indeed, building partnerships, not just inside but also outside our field can be a great way of increasing impact while saving effort.

While it can seem like an effort at first, just taking a little time to identify and build partnerships can bring major benefits in future.

Indeed, this was the subject of one of the ten key opportunities identified in IFLA’s Global Vision!

So for our 5th 10-Minute International Librarian, as a first step, think of some potential partners.

Who shares the goals of libraries? Who sympathises with our institutions? Whose support could help you go further?

It could be a business sector, a non-governmental organisation, or even a part of government.

Write your ideas down – you can even categorise them by sector, or by how easy you think it could be to reach out.

Good luck!


This idea relates to the IFLA Strategy! Strategic Direction 3, Key Initiative 3: Empower the Field at the National and Regional Levels.

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 (especially Opportunity 7)! Do also share your ideas in the comments box.

The 10-Minute Library Advocate #8: Think of a Partner You Can Work With

Think of a Partner You Can Work With

No library is an island!

Your library is an important part of the community you serve. And within that community there should be other people or groups who understand what you do and support you.

This is the case, whether you’re in a public or community library serving a local area, or a library serving the members of an institution such as a university or government department.

One way for them to show their support is by helping you in your advocacy activities. They can echo your messages, let others know why your work is important, or even provide honest feedback that will allow you to improve.

So for our eighth 10-Minute Library Advocate exercise, think of a partner you can work with.

It could be an individual (such as a teacher, professor, local author or journalist), an institution (such as a school, an NGO, or even a government agency) or a group (a club that uses your library, or a research team).

If you can think of more than one, that’s great! Write them down, alongside a few words to describe them and how they can help.

Good luck!

See the introduction and previous posts in our 10-Minute Library Advocate series and join the discussion in social media using the #EveryLibrarianAnAdvocate hashtag!