Tag Archives: Public Libraries

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

Speakers announced for the Public Libraries Innovations in Covid Panel Reflecting Back and Thinking Forward – Webinar

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.

The exciting program is listed below.

All times listed in Amsterdam Time:

April 12, 2021 – 9.30am – 10.30am: Meet the Children’s Laureates/Ambassadors
April 13, 2021 – 10am – 11.30am: Public Library innovations in COVID
April 13, 2021 – 12:00pm – 13.30pm: Literacy and Reading during COVID
April 13, 2021 – 19:00pm – 20:30pm: Public Library innovations in COVID (Portuguese)
April 14, 2021 – 10:00am – 11.30am: The future of libraries in a post COVID world
April 14, 2021 – 12:00pm – 13.30pm: Reading together during a pandemic
April 15, 2021 – 10am – 12pm: Public Libraries Business Meeting – an open meeting for all to attend

Register for the program here: https://zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_pIoOA9c_T56egeBkYeMjRw

We are very excited to hear from Public Libraries from around the world on their changing

services in response to Covid-19:


Panel: Public Libraries Innovations in Covid: April 13th 10am – 11.30am

Whitney Oakley, Branch Manager, USA

Whitney was born and raised in Colorado USA. She has her B.S. in Human Services and currently works as the Branch Manager of the Anythink Bennett Library. Whitney is passionate about community and national service and sits on the Town of Bennett Board of Trustees as a Trustee Member. She currently lives in Bennett, CO with her husband, daughter and their many animals.

Whitney will share with us her library’s Elders Check-In Calls program and the impact it had on her community. 

You can find out more about her library here: https://www.anythinklibraries.org/location/anythink-bennett


Casey Bruck, Programming Librarian USA 

Casey Bruck is the Programming Librarian at the McCall Public Library in Idaho, USA. Casey calmly navigates all kinds of library programs—from kids’ maker-space robotics to adult travelogues.  Ask him about any ideas you might have to keep our library a dynamic place of learning in our community. He is also leading the way in our Idaho Room’s digital history project, to make all our local history records available online.

Casey and his Tutor Mobile partner Amanda Keaveny will share with us how they developed a new service: The Tutor bus for their community

You can find out more about McCall Public Library team here: https://www.mccall.id.us/library-staff


Binoy Mathew Librarian Selection Grade at the Valapattanam Grama Panchayat Library, Kerala, India 

Binoy Mathew is Librarian, Special Grade of Valapattanam Grama Panchayat Library in Kannur District, Kerala, India. He has a Postgraduate Degree in Economics and Bachelor Degree in Library and Information Science. He currently lives in Kannur district with wife,son and mother.


Catharina Isberg Library Director, Helsingborg City Libraries, Sweden 

Catharina has previously worked as a Deputy Director and Manager for an academic library and as manager and vice president on an international level for a pharmaceutical industry library. Catharina’s wide variety of different library fields has brought a wealth of different ideas to her work in public libraries.  Catharina has also been an active participant for IFLA and is has taken on a number of roles over the past 10 years with her current roles including Governing Board Member 2019-2021, Congress Advisory Committee Member 2019-2021, and a Professional Committee Member 2019-2021.  You can find our more about the Helsingborg City Libraries here https://www.bibliotekfh.se/service-och-tj%C3%A4nster?refId=guxzYT&culture=sv


Panel Facilitator: Martin Memet Könick 

Martin is Library Director of Ängelholm Libraries in the South of Sweden. Martin is an elected member of IFLA:s SC for the Public Libraries Section.



Panel Moderator: Sander van Kempen

Sander is a Senior Advisor at the Royal Dutch Library in the Netherlands.  Sander is an elected member of IFLA’s Section committees: the Public Libraries Section



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

Register Here: https://zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_pIoOA9c_T56egeBkYeMjRw


Lithuanian public libraries welcome people with autism

Public libraries are public institutions and should be available to anyone. However, in reality – it is not always the case. Parents that have children with autism spectrum disorder often avoid public places because in most cases those places are not suitable for their children. But public libraries in Lithuania say “Library for everyone”, presenting a unique project implemented throughout Lithuania.

Experiences are not always pleasant

Ingrida, who has a son with an autism spectrum disorder says: “It’s not easy – you have to adapt to the environment, and communicate the way you do with anyone, but don’t expect a “normal” response”. She stresses the importance of teaching the basic rules, to show what behaviors are acceptable. For example, when you take a book from a shelf in a library afterwards you have to put it back on the shelf. You have to teach them what to do.

She mentions that “Saying to such a child to ‘sit quietly’ or ‘stay calm’ is the same as telling a blind person to ‘see’ or telling a person who can’t walk to get up and go. It doesn’t work like that”. Not only do people with autism spectrum disorder need to learn to live in the society, society also needs to learn to accept and understand this socially sensitive group.

Jacob’s mother Živilė says that people with autism spectrum disorder are greatly aided by visual information which indicates, for example, where books are placed, where to go, and finally where the toilet is. “These days, we talk a lot about integration but it is sometimes difficult for the family to go out in public. We are afraid because we do not know how the child will behave in the library and how others will react”.


Creating a safe environment for all individuals

Since November, the doors of Lithuanian public libraries have been decorated with a colorful logo “Library for everyone”. This is a sign that the library is becoming an even more open and friendly place for all individuals, despite their differences and diversity.

Many individuals with an autism spectrum disorder have an easier time processing information with visual cues. Using adapted text and pictures is key to familiarizing themselves with unknown environments and situations.

As of 2020 Lithuanian public libraries have social stories and posters that help visitors with autism spectrum disorder prepare for a visit to the library. The social stories that visitors will find on the library websites allow them to get acquainted with the library spaces, rules, and staff.

To help manage anxiety, calm down, and relax a special toolkit has been prepared for each of the public libraries. It consists of sensory-tent, tactile, audio, and visual aids. In addition, training for library staff on how to behave and help autistic children in the library have also been organized.

An example for all public institutions

In Lithuania, similarly to the rest of the world, the number of autism cases is increasing. The spectrum of autism is very wide, however, the most common problem areas are social interactions, sensory sensitivity, linguistic and non-linguistic communication. Still, research indicates that individuals with autism spectrum disorder identify the library as a great place to relax, educate, and spend quality time. In a recent survey, about 90 percent of families with autistic children said that they would visit libraries more often if they were more adapted to their needs.

The fact that Lithuanian libraries are becoming friendlier to this community is a big step forward, giving hope that other public institutions will follow this beautiful example.

The project “Implementation of a network of libraries friendly to people with autism spectrum and other language, communication and behavioral disorders” was financed by the Ministry of Culture of the Republic of Lithuania.

  If you would like to know more, contact:

Justina Grigienė, communication manager of project “Implementation of a network of librariesfriendly to people with autism spectrum and other language, communication and behavioral disorders”



Libraries facing up to Covid in the United Kingdom

In the Summer of 2019 it would have seemed impossible to believe the situation we’ve found ourselves over recent months, with locked down library services, and a pandemic affecting virtually every part of life around the globe.  A year ago, we’d never heard of Covid 19 but it has certainly changed our lives in a very short space of time.

Across the United Kingdom, public library buildings remained closed as they have done around the world at various stages through the pandemic.  In the UK re-opening began to appear in early July and services have dealt with the challenges of post Covid lockdown in different ways according to local needs.

UK public library services were one of the last publicly accessible networks to be closed down and staff were sent to work at home where they could at the end of March.  Since then public library staff have been engaged on a wide variety of work, some related to the service and some related to wider duties within their local authorities.

The situation required a quick change in the nature of the service we offer.  Whilst every library service in the country had some form of online library service, we quickly had to develop this at pace.  The demand for eBooks and for eAudio materials at least tripled in many areas of the country and our public library services struggled to keep up with the demand.  It has required many to find more funding to put into their online content and to increase access titles by purchasing more, as well as multiple licenses for popular materials.  Online information databases and resources also became extremely important for our customers and may suppliers have relaxed access rules and provided extra facilities for us.

We continued to keep in touch with our customers – especially we knew to be vulnerable.  Telephone “buddying” schemes became an important way of keeping homebound readers in touch with both library and wider services.  A limited number of library services managed to maintain some small delivery operations to those most in need in their communities.

Staff in our public library services got used to delivering storytimes, book groups, activities and craft sessions and a whole host of other innovations online through social media such as Facebook, Twitter, You Tube and Instagram.  These have really shown the talent of the  people who work in our organisations and although at times they have created ICT challenges, library teams were incredibly innovative in working round these.  In many cases, the content created was shared between services across the country to help those who have limited resources or who were asked to supply staff for other duties in their local areas.  The wealth of material available for our communities to engage with has been reflected in the collation of sites and activities on a number of websites.

Through all of this Libraries Connected came into its own as a Sector Support Organisation, particularly in the first instance as a voice of concern over the lack of government guidance on the closure of public spaces.

As the situation developed, Libraries Connected helped to promote and share the good practice of its members.  Working with other library and reading agencies, the organization collated content in one place to show the range of work going on, as well as sharing best practice through its online support network.  Our Basecamp networks allowed us to talk to each other about the day to day challenges that we faced, providing solutions, but also just a friendly response from someone in exactly the same situation.

Now that we have passed the peak in the UK, services have been allowed to re-open but on a much more limited basis.  We prepared for this by working together through “Think Ins” and a Recovery Group facilitated by Libraries Connected and Tortoise Media.  Working together and taking on board the experiences of our international contacts, we developed our own Libraries Connected toolkit which was endorsed by central government.  This has proved an invaluable resource for all of us as we look at the best fit of recovery for our own communities, and of course the possibilities for the future.

Many library services across the UK have adopted a “ring and read” or “click and collect” approach to recovering their services – customers can select or have books chosen for them to be collected at a static library.  Some services have restored limited browsing straightaway and some have restarted their mobile library services.  All this has been achieved through team and partnership working according to the needs of local communities.

We know we will never be quite the same again, and in some ways, the Covid 19 situation has forced us to develop our digital offers much more quickly than we would have been able to before.  We still have many challenges as we start to consider how we maintain some of the best of the services we have developed quickly over the past months, alongside the more traditional place based offer we have always provided.  Usage of services in the UK has been slow to recover and we expect this to continue whilst our customers regain their confidence.  We also know that we will have to deal with significant financial challenges and challenges on the services we provide and their value.  We probably all knew before Covid  how important physical spaces and resources were, but the last six months has certainly confirmed that libraries provide people with places to meet, to learn and to live.  Our challenge now will be to quantify the real need that we know exists for people to meet, share ideas, learn and develop together – we know the value of the public library offer but we now need to communicate this strongly and be part of the rebirth of society.

If you would like to see more of the work of the UK’s public library services over the past weeks, you can visit the Libraries From Home web page at Libraries Connected here


The Libraries Connected Toolkit is available here


Libraries Hacked has also brought together a collection of You Tube videos which have been aired during the “Lockdown” period  here


CILIP’s National Shelf Service has provided book reviews on a regular basis through the week and these can be seen here


Text by Mark Freeman, Libraries & information Services Manager, Stockton-on-Tees Borough Council



Share Your Thoughts and Ideas on the IFLA/UNESCO Public Library Manifesto till end of May

The IFLA/ UNESCO Public Library Manifesto has been an important achievement since it was first ratified in 1994.

The Manifesto proclaims UNESCO’s belief in the public library as a living force for education, culture and information, and as an essential agent for the fostering of peace and spiritual welfare through the minds of men and women. It identifies the public library as being central to freedom and equity of access to knowledge and information for all people.

Over the coming months, the IFLA Public Libraries Section will review the Manifesto, to identify areas that can be updated to ensure the document reflects the missions of public libraries today.

But we can’t do it without you! 

Read more https://www.ifla.org/node/92968

Recreation and Leisure time in Iranian Public Libraries

Recreation & Leisure time in Public Libraries: The Report of an Interdisciplinary Discussion.  

The Fifth National Congress of Iranian Information Science Specialists was held on November 20 and 21, 2019. The congress included more than 20 specialized panels on a variety of topics, each dealing with a range of professional librarianship and information issues. One of the permanent panels of this congress is the Public Libraries Panel, which was chaired by Fatemeh Pazooki (Head of the Standard Office of the Iran Public Libraries Foundation and a member of the IFLA Public Libraries Committee) who was accompanied by other specialists.

“We opened up this issue in spite of the challenges we encountered on a variety of issues because we had a matrix and mental framework for public libraries’ functions and duties, which were generally raised by upstream documents including the IFLA / UNESCO manifesto. Accordingly, public libraries have three main functions: Information, Education, and Recreation. The duty of Information has so far received much attention and debate, perhaps more than any other discipline in our field, in that we find ourselves famous for it and responsible to work more in this discipline. Education is the next, which has been debated and was a keynote presentation of last year’s theme of congress and has more obvious lines and policies than the Information and Recreation. However, Recreation and Leisure is a debate that seems to be largely ignored, and perhaps it can be said that it is not properly understood at all. It should be borne in mind that discussing leisure does not solely include people’s free time or recreation. Indeed, when it comes to two other functions, it conveys a concept that encompasses many of the tasks that the public library should carry out. ”

Dr. Kazemi (Faculty Member of the Research Institute for Cultural and Social Sciences) delivered his speech on the dimensions of public space and Public sphere concepts, where he pointed the differences between library public space and library Public sphere. 1. Public Sphere 2. Public space.  Public sphere is the place where individuals assemble to discuss their private or public issues. After that, he continued with a question: why do people go to parks instead of going to a public library? He said in response, “As stated, in the category of unproductive use of time or the dramatic use of time and the display of comfort, and the productive use of time for psychic or physiological discharge, as I pointed out, if humans fall into each of the spectrums (dominant or subordinate), neither of those two types of time consumption is completely shut down. It means that for a person with a purely functional entity, the dramatic use of time is not shut down completely, and unproductive use of time is not eliminated, but by imitating the dominant class, he wants to show the comfort on its own, or through his wife and children, that is why it would be minimalized (leisure).

Following that Dr. Shaghaghi (Shahid Beheshti University) was invited to talk about the concept of Leisure and Leisure time and the related institutions, as well as the distinction between these two issues; in fact, it was an introduction into the concept of leisure time versus the concept of work. He explained: “In this meeting, I would like to discuss the concept of leisure. Why do people go to parks instead of going to a public library? He said in response, “As stated, in the category of unproductive use of time or the dramatic use of time and the display of comfort, and the productive use of time for psychic or physiological discharge, as I pointed out, if humans fall into each of the spectrums (dominant or subordinate), neither of those two types of time consumption is completely shut down.

The second point about our entry into the discussion of public libraries is from a leisure angle that, as pointed out, the consumption of leisure means using time to recreate the physical or mental strength to prepare for restarting your work. Thus, all information activities that have an educational or informational aspect do not include the concept of using leisure time to recreate yourself for restarting the work, but a kind of preparation for a compulsory task, such as learning something, making a slide, learning a PowerPoint or reading a discussion in a book for a presentation, which are just a background to do a compulsory task and therefore that is a part of the task not a recreation of your intellectual or physical forces.”

Ms. Khorasanchi also enhanced in her presentation the meaning of leasure time and public libraries. “I think when it comes to leisure time in public libraries; the issue should be looked at through two perspectives: 1. audiences, 2. librarians. The usual discussion that what must a public library do? In this discussion, librarians are unconsciously considered. While the key role and the main difference between one public library and another is precisely the librarians who work there. Forget about this fact that how much authority and equipment they are given, which is something that all of us know about it. Just I would like to state that UNESCO has adopted “Open Science” as the motto of the World Science Day for Peace and Development in which the first and foremost issue is the free access to information. How much free access to information can play a role in persuading a person to come to a public library to have leisure and feel comfortable in every way and access to information? She continued by referring to the platform thinking approach and added, “The most fundamental debate in the field of platform thinking is the survival of libraries in the fourth industrial revolution, which is about to reach the fifth one. If public libraries want to preserve their functions and physical entity as much as their virtual entity, I think we should have a pack for our audience with regard to the debate of leisure time. It means that we should not consider our audience individually and alone, but families and friends together. That is, we should have some space in a public library for a group of teenagers. These are the actual experiences. When I was in charge of the Hosseinieh-Ershad Public Library, teenagers came to the library after school (and with their families on holidays) to spend their leisure time, which can be reminded as practical experiences.”

Text by: Fatemeh Pazooki, PhD Candidate of LIS, Alzahra University, Tehran, Iran.

Australian Libraries and the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals 2030

Australian Libraries are ready to talk about the next steps to be seen as an active force in the delivery of the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) 2030 in Australia and the Asian-Pacific region.  Led by Vicki McDonald, Chair, ALIA International Relations Advisory Committee who is also who is also IFLA Professional Committee Chair and member of the IFLA Governing Board some 20 library leaders and other representatives from the Federal Government came together at Australian Library Information Association (ALIA) House in Canberra on 23rd September, 2019.  This roundtable came together to debate stretch targets for the library sector to define and measure our actions.

The draft targets fit with the 17 SDG goals and 169 SDG targets and are divided into three sections:

  1. Priorities for Australian library services
  2. Contribution to society
  3. Global citizenship

As with the global goals, the draft library targets that are currently out for consultation are ambitious, yet achievable. The targets developed are designed to be measurable, using qualitative and quantitative methods, and by assessing impact. Importantly they are not new and all build on the existing library agenda.

The draft library targets also define the library sector’s role for each of the SDG goals and targets identified for our sector’s action.  The roles are fourfold.

  1. Advocacy: Libraries of all types have a voice and this action plan defines how Australian Libraries, our Associations and industry partners can raise our voice and be heard. Key pieces of legislation, open access initiatives, and raising the profile of the debate in areas such as copyright and open access are key measures.
  2. Service Delivery: there are key aspects of the SDG targets where libraries can directly make a substantial impact with their actions, which can be amplified with further guaranteed funding. Areas such as digital inclusion, access to information, increased digital presence, and digital access to collections are just a few.  The measures identified for this type of role include case studies, existing quantitive measures and identifies where the sector needs to gather new data.
  3. Research and Advocacy: Our sector needs to make the case for the impact of libraries to deliver benefits in all aspects of society. A key area identified for this research is school libraries and teacher librarians.  Making a case for their important and essential inclusion in the educational experience of young Australians is a priority.
  4. Management: For those SDG targets and actions identified where libraries are in control and deliver, the core role is defined as management. Here libraries can lead the way.  Whether it be in environmental sustainable practices, green design for new library buildings, increased collaboration, or cultural diversity and gender equity these are areas where the sector can lead.  Measures include existing data, case studies and showcasing best practice.

Using the indicators and measures described within each target, the intent is to create a statement of the starting point in 2020-2021, an interim position in 2024-2025 and a final position in 2029-2030.

SDG 17 is ‘partnerships for the goals.’ Cross-sector collaboration and partnerships are threaded through this discussion paper and new alliances will be identified as part of the next steps. Our sector will want to work with all three levels of the Australian government, including Arts, Education, Health, Foreign Affairs and Trade; with LIS associations in the region and globally; with GLAM (gallery, library, archives and museum) colleagues; with library suppliers; with LIS researchers and with agencies such as the Australian Bureau of Statistics and the Australia Council for the Arts.

A discussion paper has been circulated to the library sector for comment until 3 January 2020.  All feedback will be analysed and an executive group of the ALIA International Relations Advisory Committee will produce confirmed stretch targets for the LIS sector with a report scheduled for publication by the end of March 2020.

Following this there will be an investigation into the current position in the LIS sector against the stretch targets, which is planned to be published in the third quarter of 2020 and will set the baseline for further measurement.   An action plan will also be developed and annual updates from 2021 onwards will be put in place.  It is expected that major reports will be published in 2025 and 2030 identifying where goals have been completed, where stretch targets are on track and where there is a need for increased focus. For more information and links to the reports and discussion paper see the ALIA website https://www.alia.org.au/advocacy-and-campaigns/think-global-act-local

So watch this space for more updates on how Australian Libraries are delivering on the SDGs.


Jane Cowell, Chief Executive Officer, Yarra Plenty Regional Library, Australia