It is estimated that in the last decade nearly 1.6 billion people have been affected by disasters worldwide. The costs of this, where they can be estimated, amount to more than $1.3 trillion (USD). Spending on humanitarian aid has also reached record levels, and in 2015 alone, investment in international humanitarian aid was estimated at $28 billion (USD) – the highest level ever. The scale and nature of the challenge, and the range of potential solutions is huge, and growing year on year. However, as spending on aid increases, there are other important initiatives which focus on the reduction of risks and how to build back better lives and communities after disasters happen, that require co-ordinated and global action.

The Evidence for Global & Disaster Health SIG is holding a satellite meeting to explore the potential for librarians and their services to play an enhanced, pivotal role in the collation, organisation, assessment and deployment of information concerning global and disaster health. The perspectives of not just librarians but other professionals working in this field are sought.

The satellite meeting will be held in central Kuala Lumpur immediately prior to the World Library and Information Congress. The programme will include presentations from diverse and multi-professional perspectives, and the opportunity to participate in training on searching for evidence in this field. Lunch and refreshments will be provided. In the early evening there will be an informal social gathering followed by/with a short talk plus plenty of time for questions and networking. Light refreshments will be served. The evening informal is offered in conjunction with our sponsoring IFLA section Health and Biosciences Libraries.

Registration Costs

For details of the satellite meeting costs and registration process, please visit our satellite meeting website.

Theme and Focus

Libraries have the potential to play a key role in protecting and improving global health, through advocacy for, and provision of reliable and relevant information. The United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNISDR) defines disaster as “A serious disruption of the functioning of a community or a society at any scale due to hazardous events interacting with conditions of exposure, vulnerability and capacity, leading to one or more of the following: human, material, economic and environmental losses and impacts”. Innovative models to support global and disaster health are emerging and a recent evidence briefing showed that library and information centres have a very important role to play in terms of providing support during, and after disasters. From a practical point of view, this can include providing safe places, supporting disaster teams by providing them with the best evidence to inform decision-making, helping in the production of evidence, and acting as knowledge brokers to ensure relevant knowledge and information is being shared effectively. By providing quick and easy access to those looking for reliable information about what to do in an emergency, libraries can demonstrate their value as a primary and crucial source of trustworthy information. Librarians have the skills to work within the wider context of knowledge management (networking, relationship building, sharing) and knowledge translation (using the Knowledge-to-Action Cycle as a guiding framework to integrate evidence with practice).

The IFLA Evidence for Global and Disaster Health SIG plans to contribute to this year’s WLIC theme of “Transform Libraries, Transform Societies” by exploring how libraries in health and allied sectors can play an increasing role in programmes to reduce disaster risk, loss of life, livelihoods and health.


This meeting aims to demonstrate how librarians have contributed to disaster health, including and identify potential initiatives for the future, by:

  • Giving an overview of key players and current practice, with an emphasis on partnerships and community-based action
  • Providing an overview of how librarians have been contributing to disaster health, from the perspective of countries with perceived gaps in provision as well as those where activities have been and are being developed
  • Highlighting and sharing evidence, good practice and innovation in the field
  • Considering what needs to be done to develop skills and services to deliver these for the future

Call for Papers

We invite anyone with an interest or experience related to this theme to submit abstracts, and later full papers, particularly those which provide transferable examples of current practice, or which outline the developments needed to build skills, partnerships and resilience.

We are keen to enable sharing and learning from different perspectives and so welcome  submissions from a wide range of roles including librarians and information officers; health and public health professionals; systematic reviewers; humanitarian and voluntary sector workers, and relief coordinators.

Abstracts are invited for either full papers or for lightning talks.

Deadline for submission of abstracts: Monday, 12 March 2018

See the full call for papers on the IFLA WLIC 2018 website.