A key challenge in advocating for libraries is that you can be working across a huge range of issues. Libraries are cultural, educational, scientific, and civic actors, all at once.
While this means that there are many situations in which libraries have a relevant contribution to make, it can also mean that it is hard to find a focus, or construct a programme of ongoing advocacy activities.
One thing that can help in this is to structure activities around key dates.
Sometimes, there is an important event, with major media interest, taking place. If you are ‘present’ – through social media, articles or op eds, or other tools – you can look particularly relevant for partners, as well as build awareness within the field.
At other times, a day has been declared to be an international observance, meaning that among global – and often national – institutions, there is a special focus on the relevant theme. By engaging, you can underline libraries’ relevance, as well as potentially build new partnerships.
This blog sets ot some key dates and observances between now and the end of 2021. You don’t need to plan something for each one of these of course, and you certainly don’t need to do anything big!
However, as above, even just by posting on social media, you can help show the connection between libraries and the major global issues these dates mark. And if you can do more, all the better!
In each case, there is also a note about IFLA’s own current plans.
8 September – International Literacy Day (link): a particularly relevant day for libraries, this is an opportunity to focus on showing our institutions’ contribution to building literacy (and literacies) at all ages. This year is focused in particular on closing the digital divide. Think about examples you can share that show how libraries help achieve the global commitment to driving universal literacy!
IFLA’s Literacy and Reading Section will be planning publications, and Headquarters will be sharing new research into how libraries feature in collected good practices. Hashtag: #LiteracyDay
15 September – International Day of Democracy (link): a great opportunity to set out how libraries are promoting healthy civic life and participation in decision-making, through everything from enabling parliaments to work effectively to facilitating access to open data, providing information literacy skills, and welcoming debates and discussions in the library. Hashtag: #Democracy
17-29 September – SDG Action Week (link): what is your library or association doing to deliver on the SDGs? Share it via the tools prepared for SDG Action Week by the UN-supported SDG Action Campaign. There are also lots of great tools for social media and beyond, helping you both to underline the need to deliver on the 2030 Agenda, and to show how libraries are making a difference! Hashtag: #Act4SDGs
26 September – 2 October – Banned Books Week (link (ALA) and link (Amnesty International USA)): the mission of libraries to provide access to the widest possible range of materials to their users does not sit well with censorship, be it offline or online. Banned Books Week is an opportunity to highlight the reality of restrictions on expression today and their impact, as well as to resist censorship.
IFLA’s Advisory Committee on Freedom of Access to Information and Freedom of Expression (FAIFE) will be involved, but take a look at the links to see what the American Library association and Amnesty International USA have planned. Hashtag: #BannedBooksWeek
28 September – International Day for the Universal Access to Information (link): only recently created as a UN-recognised day, the International Day for the Universal Access to Information grew out of work to promote rules on access to government information. It has since expanded to cover all information which can help people to develop.
This year, IFLA, through its regional office for Latin America and the Caribbean, is supporting this year’s celebrations by organising an official event in Buenos Aires. Follow this – and the other events – and use the day to highlight the importance of libraries’ work to provide access to information! Hashtag: #AccessToInfoDay
October – Urban October (link): starting with World Habitat Day on 4 October, and closing with World Cities Day on 31 October, Urban October is focused on the importance of working at the local and regional levels in order to deliver on development, led by UN HABITAT. There is a strong focus this year on climate change and climate resilience, with COP26 coming up (see below!). You can register events on the Urban October website also if you want to organise something! Hashtag: #UrbanOctober
24 October – World Development Information Day (link): this day is about the importance of sharing information in order to raise awareness of and interest in development challenges around the world. As such, it is a perfect opportunity for libraries to underline their own role in supporting learning and engagement in the wider world! IFLA will make posts on the day – you can also! Hashtag: to be announced
24-31 October – Global Media and Information Literacy Week (link): this is another recent addition to the UN calendar, but has been run by UNESCO already for a number of years with strong library engagement. IFLA will be looking to contribute to global events, and we encourage others to hold their own activities or gatherings in order to promote media and information literacy, and the role of libraries in delivering it. See already our save-the-date post! Hashtag: #GlobalMILWeek
27 October – World Day for Audiovisual Heritage (link): recognized by UNESCO, this is an opportunity to recognise the uniqueness and the importance of audiovisual heritage, what it brings to societies, and what is needed to safeguard it. IFLA will be marking the day, and we hope that libraries and associations working with it will join the effort to raise awareness to ensure audiovisual heritage gets the attention it deserves. Hashtag: #AudiovisualHeritage
1-12 November – COP26 (link): delayed from last year, this is a key meeting in delivering on the Paris Agreement on climate change, where governments and others will meet to discuss accelerating climate action. IFLA, as a member of the Climate Heritage Network, will be closely involved in underlining the role of culture and cultural institutions in progress. There is likely to be major attention to climate change issues during this time, and so it’s an important opportunity both to show what libraries can contribute, and to join wider calls for action! See our blogs about climate change, and the work of our Section on Environment, Sustainability and Libraries for more. Hashtag: #COP26, #ClimateHeritage
9-24 November – UNESCO General Conference (link): this is the major biennial meeting of UNESCO’s Member States, taking the opportunity to set the budget and the agenda of the organisation, as well as to discuss key current trends. With libraries engaged in many of UNESCO’s priorities, IFLA engages across a wide range of the Organisation’s work. In advance of the event, we will be encouraging members to get in touch with their UNESCO National Commissions in order to share library priorities. Find out more in our news piece about the Year of Creative Economy, and our guide to the 2005 Convention on Cultural Diversity. Hashtag: #UNESCO
6-10 December – Internet Governance Forum 2021 (link): the Internet Governance Forum (IGF) is an opportunity for governments, experts and stakeholders to talk about key issues in the way that the internet is run today, and what improvements could be made to support development. This is an area of major interest for libraries, both given our use of the internet to support access to information, and the relevance of our values in this space. You will be able to join (online or in person at this stage) to listen into the perspectives shared and issues raised – including a side-event on libraries! – or even look out for national IGF meetings. Hashtag: #IGF2021
10 December – Human Rights Day (link): while the theme of these year’s Human Rights Day is not yet known, this is always an opportunity to highlight the connection between the activities of libraries and the delivery of human rights for all. This of course includes the right of access to information, but also to education, privacy, culture and science. IFLA will be marking the day, working with our Advisory Committee on Freedom of Access to Information and Freedom of Expression – think about what you can do! Hashtag: #StandUp4Human Rights