Libraries have been at the forefront of helping communities cope in big and small ways during the COVID-19 pandemic.  When their buildings closed, they devised strategies to provide critical services while limiting the spread of the virus. They became a lifeline in some communities, from expanding access to information to creating equity during the pandemic that communities will continue to expect from libraries. But, during this unprecedented time of crisis, libraries have also been an engine of opportunity – demonstrating that their core values transcend their books and buildings.

During the closures, the commitment and creativity of libraries culminated in re-evaluating relationships, services, and programs for their communities in exciting ways that may have a lasting impact on their roles in the future.

Our speakers will share ideas and opportunities for how libraries can lead (or have led) strategies to center diversity, inclusion and equity in services, content and programs in creative ways that may inspire (or have inspired) other campus units.


  • Dr Clifford Lynch, Executive Director, Coalition of Networked Information 

Title: Resilience in the Research Enterprise

Abstract: In the United States, at least, while university instruction moved online very rapidly during the COVID-19 pandemic, a great deal of research activity was abruptly suspended. Bringing this research work back to life has relied upon digital library collections, changes in how we think about research computing support and experimental apparatus and facilities, and many other developments. It’s also exposed a wide range of problem areas: the need for ubiquitous broadband connectivity, the need to rethink archives and special collections so as not to assume scholars are physically present, challenges around copyright and controlled digital lending concepts, and many other issues. What can we learn from the experience of the pandemic that can inform future investment strategies, and in particular what can libraries learn about how better to position to support the research enterprise across other disruptions that will inevitably arise, both foreseeable (such as climate change) and unforeseen.


  • Dr. Arnoud De Meyer, Professor Emeritus Singapore Management University 

Title: Higher Education and Academic Libraries in the Next Normal: A (former) University President’s Perspective

Abstract: Decades of investment in infrastructure and technology tools helped libraries pivot to online services during the COVID-19 pandemic to support academic continuity on their campuses. In doing so, they demonstrated leadership and resiliency as critical stakeholders in higher education. As the pandemic begins to subside, it’s hard to think that libraries will simply return to pre-pandemic business as usual. Instead of a return to the old normal, or even a new normal, they may lead “the next normal.”


  • Dr Rosemary M. Shafack, Director of the University of Buea Library, South West Region, Cameroon 

TitleThe University of Buea Library Service Delivery Thriving in the Midst of the COVID-19 Pandemic     

Abstract: The University of Buea Library (UBL) has been experiencing a very fast-growing user population from 500 students in 1993 to 28,000 prospective library users including staff and students. By inference, the toll of COVID-19 is brought to bear on over 28,000 prospective library users including external patrons. An information service like UBL and rightly so has been doing great in enhancing the development of its community through information service delivery for lifelong learning. For the records, the UBL has proven to be a life-saving wire of the community with respect to the needed information service delivery.  Unfortunately, the ravaging pandemic called COVID-19 has come and the library is obliged to thrive in the midst of it. The UBL is not just bemoaning the challenges posed by the COVID-19, but is striving to live up to its expected goals in varying ways. This presentation thus captures the experiences, challenges and lessons learnt since the advent of COVID-19. The lessons learnt have enabled this library to chart the way forward in order to live with COVID-19 and its challenges. The key issues in this presentation, have to do with the impact of the advent of the COVID-19 pandemic, experiences/challenges, lessons learned and the way forward.


  • Dr. Najmeh Shaghaei, Head of Library, The University Library of Southern Denmark 

Title: Research Libraries of the Future – Resilient libraries for a Post-COVID World

Abstract: Research Libraries, like other organizations, during COVID-19 pandemic have been facing hard choices concerning which services to offer, to minimize the risk to their staff, communities, and users. While the post COVID-19 era arrives, library leaders are urged to adapt flexible short term and long-term strategic plans that apply to every facet of library operations.

In the face of certain challenges and a still-uncertain set of risks, library leaders are rightly concerned about how their organizations will be affected and what they must do next. In the heat of the moment, there are several lessons that can be applied now to ensure our communities remain safe and resilient in the future.

This research is presenting Leadership skills and challenges regarding realigning library ambitions to the new operating environment and design the opportunity for leaders to how create clarity, diversity, strategic redundancy, innovation, build resilience, and lastly, catalyze positive new changes likely to occur in the post-COVID-19 recovery period.

During the presentation, I´ll share details of an international project conducted by a group of library emerging leaders from different countries who shared their experiences as the best perspective from which to present a worldwide view on research libraries of the future and a framework for how they might be led.The experiments were conducted by the leadership team at the University Library of Southern Denmark.


  • Dr. Jianzhong Wu, University Librarian and Ms. Priscilla Pun, Head of Technical Process Unit, University of Macau Library 

Title: Turning the Negative into Positive: the University of Macau Library’s Practice in Fighting Covid-19

Abstract: The Covid-19 Pandemic has brought profound impact on people from all walks of life. This presentation will focus on the University of Macau Library’s practice of fighting against the Pandemic and the speakers’ perspective and suggestions on the innovations of library space management.

In this post pandemic era, what should a library insist on? what should be changed? The speakers will investigate this topic and suggest that 1) the new library design should be more people-oriented; 2) more environmental- friendly and safety-first (excessive designs should be avoided) and 3) as a growing mechanism, the library should keep pace with times.

Hot Topics Organising Committee:

  • Gulcin Cribb, Chair, IFLA Academic and Research Libraries Standing Committee
  • Mari Aaltonen, Aalto University, Finland
  • Lorraine Haricombe, University of Texas, USA
  • Sharon Murphy, University of Alberta, Canada
  • Jim O’Donnell, Arizona State University, USA

This session will take place on Day 3 of the IFLA World Library and Information Congress. All times are shown in your local time zone GMT -05.