Standards as an IFLA “Key Initiative”

During last week’s (April 10th) Governing Board meeting, the Professional Committee proposed and succeeded in targeting the area of “Standards and Guidelines” as one of IFLA’s Key Initiatives for 2013-2014.  The Standards KI will nest under the current Key Initiative 1:  Digital Content Programme – Driving Access to Content..”  As ProfSpeak readers know, IFLA works within a long-term strategic plan (currently 2010-2015), which is expressed through clearly articulated “KI’s” that are reviewed and adjusted at approximately 2-year intervals.

Standards are one aspect of IFLA that is perhaps not sufficiently well known or fully appreciated. We generally take for granted a common understanding of practices and definition of services that are proper for public, academic, national libraries; in many cases, these practices were initiated by IFLA standards that articulated this common understanding.  For example, in the case of bibliographic standards such as ISBD and FRBR, we have models that provide the underlying principles of many national rules and practices.  And, in the case of services, we have standards from subject-specific sections (e.g., Government Libraries and National Libraries), as well as from sections that relate most directly to how services should be provided (e.g., Library Services to Multicultural Populations, Information Literacy, and Preservation and Conservation).

In short, standards – whose work and audiences are scattered throughout IFLA — permeate the work of IFLA’s members.  Also, over the past year, during the PC’s evaluation of both new and continuing Project proposals, areas related to standards and guidelines frequently came to the fore.   These also came from diverse sections, such as Cataloging, Classification, Social Sciences, and others.  Additionally, the PC has been involved in development of IFLA’s new Committee on Standards, led by the previous PC Chair.

Our proposed goal for the new KI is to move IFLA forward as a lead resource for bibliographic standards and service guidelines in the library profession – through the development, maintenance, and promotion of shared policies and common workflows.  Via this coordinating Standards initiative, the work of IFLA’s dispersed activities will be brought together and advanced in appropriate ways.  The GB affirmed that this is indeed a fundamental area of activity and merits additional emphasis, visibility, and “oomph” at this time.  The PC has been asked to prepare a short implementation plan for discussion at the August GB meeting; this work will be done in consultation with the Standards Committee and other appropriate groups.  Lynne Rudasill and Tone Moseid, who have developed the April proposal, will continue in a lead role.  As the PC moves forward with this effort, we greatly welcome your thoughts and comments, both on this blog and via PC representatives.  We are excited at the opportunity and value our ever-growing strategic alignment as part of the full IFLA Governing Board.

Ann Okerson

Chair of IFLA”s Professional Committee

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