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Joseph Hafner reports from IFLA World Library Congress held in Cape Town, South Africa 15 to 20 August 2015

The following report comes to us from IAML Vice-President Joseph Hafner, who attended the recent IFLA annual Congress held in Cape Town in August 2015.

I attended IFLA (International Federation of Library Associations) annual World Library Congress in Cape Town, which was an interesting opportunity to be in South Africa as one of 3200 delegates from around the world. McGill University supports me as a representative on the Acquisition and Collection Development Standing Committee, where I was continuing in a role as an Officer.IFLA WLIC 2015

While there I also represented IAML at the IFLA Meeting of Associations. IFLA asks that the highest ranking member of every organization at the Congress attend this meeting to discuss business of the Federation and to plan for the future. It was an honor to represent IAML there at the meeting. This year's focus on was a new draft of IFLA’s Strategic Directions for 2016-2021. The Governing Board is gathering input from across the organization to strengthen the Strategic Directions and ensure they will have the support of the member organizations.

To drive the Strategic Directions there is a vision for the future which is:

IFLA is the trusted global voice of the library and information community. We empower and inspire society by driving access to information, knowledge and culture for all, to support development, learning, creativity and innovation.

The four Strategic Directions which will guide IFLA to achieve goals for the future are:

  1. Libraries in Society: We will empower libraries to build literate, informed and participative societies. We will enable libraries to act as key providers of information, education, research, culture and social participation.
  2. Information and Knowledge: We will build a framework to promote equitable access to information and knowledge, in any format and any place. We will enable libraries to act as catalysts of innovation, able to facilitate the creation and re-use of content by their communities.
  3. Cultural Heritage: We will support libraries and work closely with our partners to safeguard cultural heritage in its diverse forms, including traditional, historical, indigenous and contemporary expression.
  4. Capacity Building: We will raise the voice of libraries and librarians at national, regional and global levels, developing an advocacy agenda to strengthen the ability of IFLA's members to advocate effectively for libraries as key players in political, economic and social change.

Details will be revised and released on the IFLA website this fall, and it will be interesting to watch to see what the final draft will look like. IFLA wants to continue work it started last year with the Lyon Declaration, which has lead it work on a draft recommendation to UNESCO on the essential and changing role of libraries in society. IFLA has pledged to continue to campaign to position libraries and information services and cultural heritage within the UN Sustainable Development Goals and their implementation as part of their UN Post-2015 Development Agenda.

IFLA is also looking to continue to focus on building future leaders through programs like the International Leaders Programme and find ways to package learning materials from this program to share with librarians around the world. They also continue work on advocating for Member States to ratify the Marrakesh Treaty for print-disabled, and they work with the World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO) and other partners for issues related to copyright and libraries striving for an equitable copyright framework.

The IFLA Congress is a busy event lasting 5 days plus another day for members of Standing Committees and Officers of the Organization. There are many interesting programs, key note speakers and sessions, and this year continued this tradition with a special focus on African and especially South Africa. Copyright, open access, libraries as publishers, library leadership for the future, standards for the community, FRBR next steps, and countless other topics were featured at the sessions.

Next year's Congress will be held in Columbus, Ohio, U.S.A, from 13 to 19 August 2016 with a theme "Connections, Collaboration, Community" and has strong support from various libraries and organizations in Ohio and from across the U.S.A. I encourage people in North America to take advantage of it being in Ohio as an opportunity to take part in this international organization meeting in the Midwest.

Submitted by Joseph Hafner

September 8, 2015

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