Category Archives: General

Libraries as Actors of Climate Empowerment: Satellite meeting prior to WLIC 2023

For decades, it has been self-evident for library professionals that libraries act in sustainable ways, promote the circular and shared economy and nurture environmental goals. Some discussions have even raised questions about why there is a need for even more efforts? Are there actually any further issues libraries should be doing in this context?

As climate awareness has risen, it has become more and more obvious that libraries are not an area that should be left out of this discussion. The carbon footprint of library operations must be considered as part of efforts working towards net zero.

However, the opportunity for advocating for sustainability in libraries is increasing. Libraries are increasingly promoting the UN sustainable development goals and helping to increase e.g. the climate awareness. This has not only made it easier for library professionals to begin to offer curated climate-related collections, events, and operations for customers, but also support the dialogue between libraries and wider organisations.

We know that sustainability is not solely about climate. By increasing the awareness of climate issues of communities surrounding libraries, we can also make room for other sustainability goals, such as gender equality, good health and well-being, peace, justice and strong institutions.

The joint effort of IFLA Public Libraries Section and Environment and Sustainability in Libraries Section bring together experiences, ideas and questions that have impacted both the communities and the professionals in the field. The focus will be on “Libraries as Actors of Climate Empowerment”.

It is both a duty and privilege for libraries to empower members of society to be engaged in climate action and sustainability. Libraries are strongly connected to surrounding communities and they have the capability to reach out to people of all ages.

The one-day conference will certainly raise interactions between participants, as they share ideas and plans. I am very sure, that the multifaceted conference will inspire everyone involved.


The WLIC 2023 satellite meeting will take place in LocHal Library, Tilburg Netherlands in Aug 19th.



Mr. Juha Manninen

Director, Finnish Library Association

Member of IFLA Public Library Section

Public libraries, an ideal place for cultural rights experimentation?

In recent years, many study days and seminars on cultural rights have been organized in France. Though this concept is several decades old, it remains relevant to rethinking cultural policies and its popularity is also a sign that a shift towards greater democratization of culture is no longer sufficient today to give all citizens the place they deserve in cultural life.

If you ask people working in the cultural field how they implement cultural rights in their institution, most will look at you with perplexity. Librarians are no exception. And yet, like Monsieur Jourdain in Molière’s play, they practice cultural rights without knowing it. So why is it important to know about it ? Because it is a framework which can help us give a coherence to our practices, promote our activities to the local authorities and the public, shift the way we look at the public, and even make profound changes in the inner workings of our institutions.

What is this all about ?

When we speak of cultural rights, we generally refer to a text dating back to 2007, the Fribourg Declaration. However, we find earlier mention of them in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights of 1948, which essentially says : everyone must be free to express himself, inclunding in an artistic form, to choose his cultural practices, to choose his cultural identifications freely and the meaning he gives to his way of life. These rights are also duties : each person should make sure to share humanity with others.

Various subsequent UNESCO texts are based on this notion, such as the 2005 convention on the protection and promotion of the diversity of cultural expressions. To understand how these principles can be implemented in our institutions, it is important to question what we mean by culture. UNESCO’s conception of culture generally refers to the anthropological definition of culture : ways of life, value systems, ways of living together, traditions and beliefs… that each person is gifted with. However, in 2007, the Fribourg Declaration, a founding text that brings together, clarifies and highlights this notion present in various international texts, also includes knowledge and the arts in cultural identity. Thus, cultural rights not only imply the freedom to choose one’s cultural identity but also the freedom to create, to disseminate artistic works and to participate in cultural life and even, beyond, in the elaboration and evaluation of cultural policies.

Whether we speak of culture in the anthropological sense or of cultural life as a field of creation and sharing of artistic productions, the stakes of cultural rights are identical : it is a matter of recognizing the right of each person to know and to have his or her own culture respected and to participate in cultural life, it is a matter of promoting diversity and legitimizing all identities and forms of cultural expression, of making people active citizens, of sharing works, knowledge and experiences, of weaving links and creating community, of facilitating cooperation.

We cannot but make the connection with the UNESCO Manifesto for Public Libraries, whose updated version in 2022 by the IFLA Public Libraries Section and UNESCO was presented at WLIC 2022. The Manifesto is driven by the same concern to promote the multiplicity of cultural expressions and the participation of citizens in the life of libraries. Present in all urban and rural areas, welcoming all publics without discrimination and the most diverse groups free of charge, providing resources, tools and mediation workshops to accompany each person on his or her personal path, articulating the collective and personal dimensions, libraries are undoubtedly among the institutions in the best position to make these principles a daily reality. What remains to be done is to make cultural rights a backbone, a structuring axis that will help libraries build a strategy, make the social and political benefits of their action visible, and constantly evaluate it in order to make further progress.

And what can libraries do with it ?

Participatory places: integrating the public in the life of libraries and in the public reading policy

  • Participation in acquisitions is developing in public libraries with very positive effects. The updating of the documentary charter can be co-constructed with the users (and non users!). It can be the opportunity to question the representation of minorities, women, linguistic diversity in the collections. It is also the right time to rehabilitate less legitimate forms of cultural expression.
  • Cultural programming is a vast playground for involving users. As with documentary policy, it is a question of breaking with a top-down logic of supply that is supposed to respond to needs, in order to start from what people know and wish to share.
  • Virtuous organizations : rethinking the internal functioning of the library according to this logic

Staff training and development:

  • Staff members have professional skills and lived experience that can be valuable
  • Colleagues should commit to tracking down possible forms of discrimination in managerial practices
  • In French libraries, “workshops on detoxification of stereotyped language” have been organized.

Access to cultural life and the quality of hospitality:

  • Make hospitality the first motto of the library
  • Extend the opening hours and make the library free of charge whenever possible
  • Ensure that the principle of non-discrimination is respected in cultural programming
  • Networking the territory: develop the network according to the demographic, urbanistic and socio-economic evolution of the territory and improve the service in the areas with little coverage

Contributing to cultural life: ensuring that users have a place as informed creators and spectators

  • Promote amateur creative activities
  • Open up spaces for exchange in the cultural program
  • Encourage inter-learning based on people’s knowledge and know-how
  • Develop artistic and cultural education in order to give young people the possibility to build their cultural path in complete autonomy, to develop their critical spirit and to become creators

The library as a place for intercultural dialogue:

  • Through the cultural and linguistic diversity of the collections, through cultural programming
  • Introduce diversity in the library team through recruitment

Evaluation as an ongoing process:

  • Cultural rights provide a framework for analyzing our practices; at the very least, libraries can use them as a basis for introducing new indicators.
  • Francophones can refer to Paideia’s self-evaluation guide, an action research group that analyzes public policies through the lens of cultural rights
  • Of course, implementing cultural rights also means not forgetting to involve the public in the evaluation of our actions

Cultural rights, more than a source of innovation, are first and foremost a reference framework that can guide the actions of libraries through a strategic plan and an evaluation process.

It is also a call to take the time to reflect and to take some distance, to get rid of preconceived ideas and to cultivate change.

Annie Brigant, Public Libraries Section

IFLA/Systematic Public Library of the Year Award 2022

A white man with a blue shirt and navy jacket

Sander van Kempen, IFLA Public Libraries Section and member of the 2022 judges panel for the award writes:
“What a great public library of the year award it was this year! It was so great to have a live and in person award ceremony and I enjoyed it so much. You can watch a recording of the event on You Tube.

I was honoured to ask the short listed libraries a question. I am part of the jury as well as part of the IFLA SC public libraries and found it very tough to choose a winner. I think the entire short listed libraries are winners. They are all very different and beautiful libraries and all deserve a visit. See the short list below.

  • Missoula Library, United States, winner!
  • Ogre Library, Latvia
  • Gellerup Library, Denmark
  • Itra Library, Saudi Arabia

You can also find out more about the short list here: Four impressive libraries nominated for the Public Library of the Year 2022 award (

You can also find more information about the winner here: World’s best new public library found (

It gave me a lot of energy to be part of the process and I look forward to next years award. As you may know there were a total of 20 libraries from 18 countries that applied to the public library of the year award 2022 and if you think the short list consists of different libraries, think again!

I wanted to share the entire list of applicants for the award because there are many other fascinating libraries that deserve the recognition, so see below the list of 20 applications of the award in alphabetical order:

Biblioteca de Sant Climent de Llobregat, Spain

Choa Chu Kang Public Library, Singapore

Clinton-Macomb Public Library North Branch, USA

Edgeworthstown Community Library, Ireland

Forest Library (Orman Kütüphanesi), Turkey

Gellerup Library, Aarhus Public Libraries, Denmark

Guanajuato State Congress Library, Mexico

Ithra Library, Saudi Arabia

Lacina Diarrassouba, Ivory Coast

Misr Public Library (MPL) (Ezbet El Borg), Egypt

Missoula Public Library, USA *

Nuevo Occidente Library Park, Lusitania, Colombia

Ogre Central Library, Latvia

Peyo K. Yavorov Regional Library, Bulgaria

Sanshui Library, China

Shirak Regional Library SNCO, Republic of Armenia

Stavros Niarchos Foundation Library, New York, USA

Tagum City Library and Learning Commons, Philippines

Te Paataka Koorero o Takaanini, Takaanini Library & Community Hub, New Zealand

Yazd Central Library, Iran

I look forward to the award ceremony in Rotterdam next year. Hopefully we will have some great applications from all over the world again and a much deserved winner.

Sander van Kempen
Member of SC Public Libraries and member of jury of the public library of the year award.

Virtual Reality to develop new forms of storytelling and story creation in Ängelholm Public Libraries

Virtual Reality to develop new forms of storytelling and story creation in Public Libraries

In the autumn of 2019, Ängelholm Libraries, in the south of Sweden, thought about how we could develop the libraries’ work with reading promotion. One idea that stood out was to use new technology to reach children. We decided to try using VR (Virtual Reality). We applied for and received a project grant from Region Skåne for this VR-experiment. The purpose described in the application was mainly to develop new forms of storytelling and creation of stories with the help of new technology. We wanted to find new ways to work with visualization and storytelling, combine analogue and digital ways to work and let the children meet the literary worlds in new ways.

We aimed with these new methods to inspire more people to read and use VR as a bridge between worlds, not only between digital and literary worlds but also between the library worlds and today’s young people’s worlds. We took our starting point in section 8 of the Swedish Library Law, which states that public libraries shall pay special attention to children and young people to promote their language development and stimulate reading, among other things by offering literature based on their needs and conditions. Ängelholm Municipality’s plan for IT and digitalisation points to VR as a way to bring the municipality’s public environments to life and meet the demands of the culture of the future.

During early spring 2020, we contacted a teacher at a local school to, together with her class, be a pilot in this experiment. Together we came to the conclusion that a suitable theme for the experiment was ancient history. In the spring of 2020, we planned how the project would be implemented, worked on how we would present it to the class, compiled a list of literature, investigated what skills we needed to develop and so on. At the beginning of September it was time to start. We invited the class to Vejbystrand’s library. We presented the project, told what it was we wanted to do and showed them some examples of nearby ancient history – Luttra walkway, the rock carvings in Tanumshede and Ale’s stones. Ale’s stones were made available for the children to see and experience in the VR-headset.

At the start-up meeting, we also had with us some ancient finds, an arrowhead, an ax and a scrape, that the children could look at and feel. With them back to school the class got a large pile of books, both reading aloud books, chapter books for the children to read for themselves and books about antiquity, and two cultivation boxes. The children would create their own ancient worlds in these cultivation boxes. The teacher was given instructions on how they needed to leave space in the worlds so that we could fit a 360​-camera, aside from that they got completely free hands to create what they wanted within the theme.

We had thought that on at least one occasion during the autumn we would be in the class when they worked with their ancient worlds, but the pandemic prohibited this. We were a little lucky in other ways that we learned through a colleague that there is an archaeologist at Fredriksdal’s museums in the city of Helsingborg who goes out to schools and shows and tells stories. We told the teacher about this and she got in touch and it resulted in an exciting visit. This is something we will in one way or another try to take with us in the continued work with this project. When the autumn term was coming to an end, the class was done with their worlds, we picked up the boxes and the filming started. It was more time consuming to film than we had expected. Finding the right perspective and the right feeling in the experience took time, but we still thought that the experience was so important that it simply had to take the time it took. The editing of the films also took quite a lot of time, but in the end we had achieved the results we were striving for.

After having to postpone a bit, due to the pandemic, it was finally time for the class’ to visit the library. The class was again invited to Vejbystrand’s library. We had prepared by taking two ancient worlds to the library, we had set up the VR equipment and fixed with a photo corner with green screen. When the class arrived, the teacher quickly divided them first into the two groups that had worked on each cultivation box and then these two groups were divided once more. While a small group, 4-5 students, stayed with us at the library, the others went out to a nearby playground. This was a very good strategy that ensured that no children would have time to get bored of waiting for their turn. Each child in the small group got to see the VR-film from “their” ancient world and then choose which image they wanted as a background in the photo we then took of each child and cut into the ancient world using green screen technology.

Everything flowed very nicely, all the children were happy throughout the morning and this was very important to us. When all the children had seen their world in VR and taken their photo, we gathered the whole class inside the library again for a joint conclusion to the workshop. We took one last green screen picture, a group picture which we then sent together with all the children’s individual pictures to the teacher. We asked the children a little about how they had experienced the work they did during the autumn and were told that they thought this was a fun way to work that they would like to do again, that they felt that they had learned more, that it was very fun to work with the craft when they created the worlds and that it was great fun to get a photo of themselves in their world and of course to get the tour of the world in VR.

Overall, we are very satisfied more with how the experiment developed and we are very happy for the great collaboration with the school, the teacher and all the children. Our long-term goal is for all schools in Ängelholm municipality to be offered to collaborate with us in this way, using VR and a subject theme. We have secured additional funding from Region Skåne to continue this work. Lessons from the pilot experiment to take into account is the time filming and editing takes, that the green screen was a very good complement, that we can with advantage seek cooperation outside the school and library world to deepen the experience, for example museums, local history associations or other parties with special knowledge of any chosen theme.

This Youtube video shows how children use techniques to make videos.

Text: Emelie Ljungdahl, librarian, and Martin Memet Könick, Library Director and Public Libraries Section SC-member.

The Best Pieces from Public Libraries Section Webinar

Many of us, myself included, have a tough time coping with the corona crisis. Sometimes however, this crisis also presents us with possibilities and opportunities that we have not thought before. The midterm webinars is such an example.

Between 12-15 April the Literacy and Reading and Public Libraries Sections jointed offered mid-term webinar program offered. You can see all the webinars here.

Normally we would have our mid-term meeting with our section, in my case, the Public Libraries Section and share our knowledge and experiences there with each other. But with the webinars we were able to share this much broader, with more than 1000 participants from over 40 countries as it turns out. Also, this time we had an opportunity to offer a webinar in a different language. Thanks to my colleague in the Public Libraries Section, Adriana Cybele Ferrari, we were able to provide a separate webinar in Portuguese, which was very well received. In our section we try to take steps in achieving the IFLA strategy. These webinar series are a good example how we inspire by sharing knowledge and how we can connect with the field.

I was a co-facilitator at the Public Library Innovations in COVID and enjoyed sharing very different experiences from colleagues around the world. You can find the recording of the webinar here.

Casey and Amanda presented their tutor bus, where they reached kids that were not able to go to school on the off days. You can find their presentation here. A great way to go out and connect to community.

Whitney presented how she connected with elderly people trough their elders check-in calls. A great way for a public library to show how they can make a difference in people’s lives. You can find her presentation here  Elder Calls Project Presentation.

Binoy from India explained how his library used social media to reach a huge number of citizens and creating a great number of products as a result. Great to see how a small team of one, can make a huge impact. You can find his presentation here.

Catharina told us about innovations and a different way of working in her public library in Sweden. Her library reacted to the pandemic with a more flexible and agile way of working. You can find her presentation here


At the end we had some great questions from the participants. I enjoyed it very much and hope we can host a webinar like this soon.

Sander van Kempen

Member of SC Public Libraries

A Toast to Resilience: Bringing Patrons Back After the Pandemic

A year ago this month, we had just opened Curbside Concierge services, and we were celebrating what felt like a victory to us: circulated physical books for the first time since early March. The staff at the Chattanooga Public Library stepped up to the challenge presented by COVID-19. We started delivering virtual programs and services within a week of closing our doors, and we took advantage of our empty buildings to advance major capital projects. Though we had no idea when we would come out on the other side of things, we focused on what we could accomplish in the short-term. 

This June, however, we are looking many months ahead. And the future couldn’t look brighter. We started the month off with our first in-person program in nearly 15 months, and while we limited occupancy and held the event outside, we were not dipping our toes into the waters. We went into our next reopening phase with a cannonball of a splash: a wine tasting put on by our newest adult program, Curiosity Club, sponsored by our Friends of the Chattanooga Public Library and community partners who continued to support our mission throughout the last year. 

It may come as no surprise that the wine tasting was a big success, with overwhelmingly positive feedback from all who attended. But for us, after more than a year of learning how to do things differently, our focus was on what we could learn from this experience. What does an in-person program look like now? Do programs need to be a hybrid of in-person and virtual? How can we leverage events like these to attract more sponsorships through our Friends? 

As we move into our next fiscal year, we have many ambitious goals to achieve that require creative thinking, collaboration, and funding. What we did during the pandemic and what we’re doing now coming out of it, everything we do must be forward thinking. We’ve made our buildings more equitable with ADA compliance upgrades, and we’ve developed new relationships with diverse community partners. We’re seeking long-term program sponsors that will allow us to consistently offer quality programs and diverse services our community needs. 

The pandemic showed us the value of unconventional thinking, of hiring staff with unique skill sets, of investing in tools and technology that allow us to pivot quickly. It seems fitting that our first in-person program was a wine event because I definitely feel like toasting. Here’s to the ever changing, but always impactful public library! 

Corinne Hill, Executive Director Chattanooga Public Library

Announcing a new Speaker Reflecting Back and Thinking Forward – Seminar

Join IFLA Public Libraries and Literacy Reading Sections for our Reflecting Back and Thinking Forward Mid-term Seminar from 12-14 April 2021.  We look at how public libraries have responded to COVID and how the lessons learnt will impact the future. We will also explore some of the great initiatives around reading and literacy that have emerged during this time and how we can expand on this. There will also be an opportunity to ‘meet’ the world’s Children’s Laureates/Ambassadors and hear of their vision for the future.

Register for the program here:

Announcing a new speaker for our The Future of Libraries in a Post Covid World Panel

Liz McGettigan, 

Liz is an experienced senior leader with a focus and passion for delivering strategy and results. Passionate about libraries and trusted information, digital and social inclusion, leadership and transformation

Formerly Head of City of Edinburgh’s Library and Information Services, a trustee CILIP  and a Past President  of CILIP Scotland  Liz founded the Edinburgh EDGE Conference and is  Co-Chair of Internet Librarian International London. She has achieved several accolades as a  Scotland Women in Technology Finalist and named as  one of Scotland’s top 10 Digital Disruptors . She is very proud to have been named as one of HOLYROOD’S TOP TECH 100. An effervescent Speaker with extensive international experience of libraries around the world with strategy, marketing, technology, innovation, and community engagement.

Liz joins our other knowledgeable panellists listed below.


Mr Gene Tan, Assistant Chief Executive, National Library of Singapore 

Gene Tan is an Executive and Creative Director who has helmed 3 national projects working at the highest level of government & across people and private sectors – Singapore’s Bicentennial, SG50 Capstone Exhibition The Future of Us and the Singapore Memory Project. Top librarian who was Director of the National Library and President of the Library Association.

Ms Liz Jolly, Chief Librarian, British Library.

Liz Jolly has been Chief Librarian at the British Library since September 2018. She is responsible for teams delivering core activities such as collection development; services for researchers, learners, businesses and entrepreneurs; research strategy and digital scholarship; an extensive cultural programme of exhibitions, events, and the Library’s online presence.  Liz has over twenty years’ experience in a variety of institutions in the university sector, most recently as Director of Student and Library Services at Teesside University. An Honorary Professor at Teesside, Liz is a Principal Fellow of the Higher Education Academy and a Fellow both of the CILIP and the RSA. She was Chair of SCONUL, the UK university library directors’ group, from 2014-16 and is a member of the Board of Governors at the University of Portsmouth. Liz is a Vice Chair of the SCONUL Content Strategy Group and a member of the Editorial Board of the New Review of Academic Librarianship.


Margaret Allen, State Librarian, State Library of Western Australia, Chair Public Libraries Section Committee. ALIA President 2011, ALIA Fellowship 2014, Public Service Medal 2018

Through her role as CEO of the State Library of Western Australia, Under Margaret’s leadership the State Library works in partnership with Aboriginal people through the Storylines Project to ‘build and maintain an online database of digitised heritage material from the library’s collections relating to Aboriginal history’ and through its Aboriginal Family History project offers training in information literacy, and research skills to support clients with family history research.

Margaret a long term contributor to IFLA, was engaged in the 2012 IFLA International Leaders Programme. As Chair of the Australian Libraries Copyright Committee (ALCC) and a member of the Australian Digital Alliance (ADA) Board of Directors Margaret is an active participant in the Australian copyright reform debates committed to copyright reform that enables fair access. Margaret was ALIA President for the 2011-2012 term of office. She represented libraries on the government’s Book Industry Collaborative Council and she is a valued member of the ALIA ebooks and elending Reference Group, presenting at think tanks across Australia during 2013.

Panel Facilitator: Erik BoekesteijnErik Boekesteijn  is a senior advisor at National Library of the Netherlands as well as a facilitator and consultant for the International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions and a SLIS Fellow. Boekesteijn got his start in the Netherlands’ DOK Library in Delft, recognized as one of the most innovative public libraries in the world.


We look forward to seeing you all at our virtual catch up.

Register Here: