More about IFLA
Who we are
The International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions (IFLA) is the leading international body representing the interests of library and information services and their users. It is the global voice of the library and information profession.
Founded in 1927 in Edinburgh, Scotland at an international conference, we celebrated our 90th birthday in 2017. We now have more than 1,500 Members in over 150 countries around the world. IFLA was registered in the Netherlands in 1971. The Royal Library, the national library of the Netherlands, in The Hague, generously provides the facilities for our headquarters.
IFLA is an independent, international, non-governmental, not-for-profit organisation. Our aims are to:
- Promote high standards of provision and delivery of library and information services
- Encourage widespread understanding of the value of good library & information services
- Represent the interests of our members throughout the world
In pursuing these aims IFLA embraces the following core values:
- the endorsement of the principles of freedom of access to information, ideas and works of imagination and freedom of expression embodied in Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights
- the belief that people, communities and organisations need universal and equitable access to information, ideas and works of imagination for their social, educational, cultural, democratic and economic well-being
- the conviction that delivery of high quality library and information services helps guarantee that access
- the commitment to enable all Members of the Federation to engage in, and benefit from, its activities without regard to citizenship, disability, ethnic origin, gender, geographical location, language, political philosophy, race or religion
We have two main categories of voting members: Association Members and Institutional Members. Associations of library and information professionals, of library and information services and of educational and research institutes, within the broad field of library and information science, are all welcome as Association Members. Institutional Membership is designed for individual library and information services, and all kinds of organisations in the library and information sector. International organisations within our sphere of interest may join as International Association Members.
National Association Members, International Association Members and Institutional Members have voting rights in elections and meetings. They are entitled to nominate candidates for the post of IFLA President.
Individual practitioners in the field of library and information science may join as Personal Affiliates. They do not have voting rights, but they provide invaluable contributions to the work of IFLA, by serving on committees and contributing to professional programmes.
Complete information on how to join can be found on the IFLA Membership webpage.
More than 25 corporations in the information industry have formed a working relationship with IFLA under our Corporate Supporters scheme. In return for financial and 'in kind' support they receive a range of benefits including opportunities to present their products and services to our worldwide membership.
Relations with Other Bodies
We have established good working relations with a variety of other bodies with similar interests, providing an opportunity for a regular exchange of information and views on issues of mutual concern. We have formal associate relations with UNESCO, observer status with the United Nations, associate status with the International Council of Scientific Unions (ICSU) and observer status with the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) and the International Organization for Standardization (ISO). In 1999, we established observer status with the World Trade Organization (WTO).
In turn, we have offered consultative status to a number of non-governmental organisations operating in related fields, including the International Publishers Association (IPA). We are members, along with the International Council on Archives (ICA), International Council of Museums (ICOM) and the International Council on Monuments and Sites (ICOMOS), of the International Committee of the Blue Shield (ICBS). The mission of ICBS is to collect and disseminate information and to co-ordinate action in situations when cultural property is at risk.
World Library and Information Congress: IFLA General Conference and Assembly
Our conference is held in August or early September in a different city each year. More than three thousand delegates meet to exchange experience, debate professional issues, see the latest products of the information industry, conduct the business of IFLA and experience something of the culture of the host country.
More information on the current conference or past and future conferences can be found here.
A range of professional meetings, seminars and workshops are held around the world by our professional groups and Strategic Programmes. Use the IFLA website and subscribe to IFLA-L to find out what is going on when and where.
The governing structure of IFLA has been revised and came into force in 2008. The revision was necessary in order to reflect the opportunities presented by our increasingly global membership and the greater ease of worldwide communications. For the description of the governing structure please consult the IFLA Statutes.
The General Assembly of Members is the supreme governing body, consisting of delegates of voting Members. It normally meets every year during the annual conference. It elects the President and members of the Governing Board. It also considers general and professional resolutions which, if approved, are usually passed to the Executive Committee and the Professional Committee for action as appropriate.
The Governing Board is responsible for the managerial and professional direction of IFLA within guidelines approved by the Assembly. The Board consists of the President, the President-elect, Ten directly elected Members (by postal and/or electronic ballot, every two years) andsix indirectly elected members of the Professional Committee (by the professional groups through the sections and divisions, and the Chair of the Management of Library Associations Section); up to three Members may be co-opted.
The Governing Board meets three times per year, once at the time and place of the annual World Library and Information Congress.
The Executive Committee has executive responsibility delegated by the Governing Board to oversee the direction of IFLA between meetings of this Board within the policies established by the Board. The Committee consists of the President, President-elect, the Treasurer, the Chair of the Professional Committee, 2 members of the Governing Board, elected every 2 years by members of the Board from among its elected members, and IFLA's Secretary General, ex-officio.
It is the duty of the Professional Committee to ensure coordination of the work of all the IFLA units responsible for professional activities, policies and programmes. The Committee consists of a chair, elected by the outgoing Committee, the chair of each of IFLA's 5 Divisions plus 2 members of the Governing Board, elected by that Board from among its members, the President-elect, and the Chairs of the FAIFE and CLM committees; an additional member may be co-opted.
The Professional Committee meets three times per year, once at the time and place of the annual World Library and Information Congress.
Issues common to library and information services around the world are the concern of the IFLA Strategic Programmes. Directed by the Professional Committee, the objectives and projects of the Strategic Programmes relate to the Federation's Programme and the priorities of the Divisions and Sections. The Library Development Programm (LDP) has very wide scope, concentrating on the broad range of concerns specific to the developing world. The others cover current, internationally important issues, including: Preservation and Conservation (PAC), IFLA UNIMARC and the IFLA Committee on Standards, which coordinates standards work within and beyond IFLA and support standards activities in IFLA professional units, principally in sections.
- FAIFE CLM, and PAC are managed by the IFLA Manager of Policy and Advocacy and report to the Governing Board.
- LDP is managed by the IFLA Manager Development Programmes and reports the Secretary General.
- The IFLA Committee on Standards reports to the Governing Board and works with the Professional Committee on matters related to the Professional Programme.
- UNIMARC reports to the Governing Board. IFLA is grateful to the Biblioteca Nacional, Portugal and their librarians for generously hosting the UNIMARC Strategic Programme.
Divisions and Sections
Sections are the primary focus for the Federation's work in a particular type of library and information service, in an aspect of library and information science or in a region. All IFLA Members are entitled to register for Sections of their choice. Once registered, voting Members have the right to nominate specialists for the Standing Committee of the Sections for which they are registered. The Standing Committee is the key group of professionals who develop and monitor the programme of the Section. Sections are grouped into five Divisions.
Three Regional Sections (Africa, Asia and Oceania, and Latin America and the Caribbean) make up the Division of Regional Activities (Division 5). They are concerned with all aspects of library and information services in their regions. They promote IFLA activities and work closely with the IFLA Regional Offices, located in Pretoria, South Africa; Singapore and Buenos Aires, Argentina.
Special Interest Groups
Special Interest Groups may be set up, on a temporary and informal basis, to enable groups of Members to discuss specific professional, or social and cultural issues relating to the profession. Special Interest Groups may be established for two-years, once renewable, and must be sponsored by a Section.
The results of the programmes developed by IFLA's professional groups are recorded and disseminated in our publications.
- IFLA Journal is published four times a year. Each issue includes peer-reviewed articles on library and information services and the social political and economic issues that impact access to information through libraries.
- The Annual Report records IFLA's achievements during the previous years.
- The IFLA Publications Series, published by IFLA's publisher, De Gruyter in Berlin, Germany.
- The IFLA Professional Reports series feature reports of professional meetings and guidelines to best practice.
Many librarians and information professionals throughout the world, who contribute their time, expertise and financial resources, make our achievements possible. Approximately 60% of our income is derived from membership fees.
Other sources of income include sales of publications, contributions in cash and kind from our corporate partners, grants from foundations and government agencies.
Our Strategic Programmes are supported by grants from international funding agencies and the generous support through donations and in kind contributions by national and university libraries and national associations.
To all of them we record our grateful thanks.
See our separate page on IFLA's online presence.
Last update: 10 December 2019