The IFLA Asia Oceania Regional Division Committee (IFLA AO RDC) is hosting its first webinar as a side event in the context of the UN Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP) Asia-Pacific Forum on Sustainable Development. The webinar theme is “Informed societies at the foundation of a better post-COVID world”.

As countries are now starting to bring the pandemic under control and planning their recovery, we can use the knowledge services that have supported populations and governments through the long crisis to ‘build back better’ – to repair the damage to public health, social conditions and economic activity.

The webinar will be led by Premila Gamage, a Sri Lankan member of the IFLA Regional Division Committee for Asia-Oceania, and Basheerhamad Shadrach, an independent consultant from India. Premila and Shaddy will lead the discussion with a panel of experts from across the Asia Oceania region, the Philippines, Singapore, Australia, New Zealand and Japan, who will share ideas about how partnerships between libraries and other sectors can further support economic and social development of communities, particularly focusing on quality education (SDG 4). Speakers will also address gender equality (SDG 5), equal access to information as a human right (SDG 16) and the active promotion of digital information literacy to improve education outcomes (SDG 17). They will speak of the need for countries to formulate integrated policies for transformative cross-sector partnerships covering education at all levels (e.g. tertiary education working with libraries for innovation, SDG9), the provision of resources for equal access to cultural knowledge important to all groups within national communities, and the strengthening of telecommunications infrastructure on which communities rely.

The event is going to be livestreamed on IFLA’s YouTube channel. You can access the livestream by clicking here.

Lead Speaker

Premila Gamage is a Chartered Librarian with more than 35 years of work experience in university and research libraries. She holds a PhD in Information Management from Leeds Metropolitan University, UK. Currently she is the Consultant – Knowledge Management Systems at the Verite Research Sri Lanka. Premila is an experienced professional who has contributed to a range of local and international organizations including the International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions (IFLA), Access to Learning Award of Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Commonwealth of Learning – Skills for Work Programme, M.S. Swaminathan Research Foundation – INELI South Asia Programme, National Centre for Advanced Studies in Humanities and Social Sciences (NCAS), and the Sri Lanka Library Association (SLLA).

At present she is an elected member of the IFLA Regional Division Committee for Asia and Oceania 2021-2023. Also she is a member of the SLLA council and convener of the SLLA-SDG committee. She was elected to the Governing Board of IFLA, and elected as the Chairperson of the Division for Regional Activities (Asia and Oceania, Africa and Latin America and Caribbean).  She was also appointed to the Advisory Committee of Advancement of Libraries Programme (ALP) of IFLA.  As an Accredited Trainer of IFLA, she has conducted a number of workshops on training for librarians in Lebanon, India, Nepal and ASEAN countries on various topics including Leadership. For the SLLA, she conducted a series of island-wide training workshops on library advocacy with the support from ALP and American Library Association.

She was the country project officer of the worldwide research programme of the IFLA’s Public Library Politics Project, which was initiated with the purpose of evaluating policy maker’s attitudes regarding the role, value and impact of the public library services. Premila’s work is recognised internationally and she is the first Sri Lankan to be awarded the Honorary Fellowship of Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals (CILIP), UK for her efforts to extend library and information services to youth in the remote regions of Sri Lanka and her deep commitment to fostering education. She has authored, co-authored peer-reviewed journal articles and represented the country at a number of international forums. Premila currently serves in the editorial panels of the high-profile journal issues that are focused on information development.

Panellist and session Moderator

Dr. Basheerhamad (Shaddy) Shadrach is currently consulting for UNESCO-UNEVOC, Germany in the field of new qualifications and competencies in Technical and Vocational Education and Training.  Recently, he served the Commonwealth of Learning, Canada as Skills Advisor where, in collaboration with Udemy, Coursera and Google, he imparted job-ready skills among 200,000 people in Asia, Africa, Caribbean and the Pacific during the COVID-19 Pandemic to help them re-enter the labour market. In his career since 1986, he has managed ICT4D programs in over forty nations around the world.  He has also served in senior management positions at the British Council, Transparency International, Germany and OneWorld International, UK.  He helped the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to establish the Indian Public Library Movement and the International Network of Emerging Library Innovators program in South Asia.  He was also the Asia Coordinator of the Web Foundation for its Alliance for Affordable Internet program. He served as the Global Chief Executive of Foundation in the Philippines and as Senior Program Officer of International Development Research Centre, Canada, managing ICT4D research grants in Asia. 

Having launched India’s first-ever development Portal, indev in 1999, he launched the first-ever global Anti-Corruption Portal, CORIS at the International Anti-Corruption Conference in Seoul in 2003 and Transparency International’s Intranet, ChapterZone, as the knowledge management platform for TI’s national chapters in 92 countries in the same year. While managing the Building Communication Opportunity Alliance in Asia, in 2004, Dr Shadrach launched EkDuniya anEk Awaaz, a unique Community Radio initiative, and a multi-stakeholder alliance of over 600 organisations that advocated for achieving the MDGs in South Asia.  He supported the launch of South Asia’s Wada Na Thodo campaign together with UN’s MDG campaign partners while also managing the Open Knowledge Network in Asia on behalf of G8’s DOTFORCE.  In the year 2005, with support from Cisco and British Telecom, he launched Lifelines India, the nation’s first-ever NGO-led 24X7 Farmers’ call centre.  He was the global coordinator of the ‘Grassroots Caucus’ at both the legs of the World Summit on the Information Society in Geneva and Tunis.  Under the chairmanship of Professor M S Swaminathan, as the Executive Secretary, he launched Mission 2007: Every Village a Knowledge Centre initiative which paved the way for establishing over 100,000 Common Service Centres in India.  He helped to spread its adoption in many nations around the world.

As the global head, Academy, in 2009, he developed a unique training ecosystem for equipping grassroots-level knowledge workers. After successfully establishing the Global Foundation in Manila in 2010, with support from the ITU, in 2011, he launched the world-wide Telecentre Women: Digital Literacy Campaign which successfully trained over 1 million women in digital entrepreneurship.  During his 35 year-long professional life, Dr Shadrach has also consulted for FCDO, UK; ITU, Geneva; ADB, the Philippines; UNDP, Iraq; Practical Action, UK; the Open University, UK; Article19, UK and the ICT Agency of Sri Lanka.  He earned his PhD in Information Science as a faculty student at Loughborough University, UK.


Elvira Lapuz is a University Librarian of the University of the Philippines Diliman, and national President of the Philippine Librarians Association, Inc. (PLAI) in 2015-16 and the Philippine Association of Academic and Research Librarians (PAARL) in 2009. A Member of IFLA’s Regional Division Committee for Asia-Oceania and Executive Board of the Congress of Southeast Asian Librarians (CONSAL). Sits in Professional Regulations Commission-Continuing Professional Development Council (PRC-CPDC). A Senior Lecturer at the University of the Philippines, School of Library and Information Studies (UP-SLIS) handling courses in Management of Library and Information Center, Collection Development and Management and Records Management. In 2016, selected as an Associate of the International Federation of Library Association and Institutions (IFLA) International Leaders Program2 (ILP2).

Patricia (Trish) Hepworth is the Director of Policy and Education for the Australian Library and Information Association (ALIA).  In this role she oversees the Association’s work to support and strengthen the profession, including the $1.6 million Professional Pathways Initiative, a significant investment in a diverse and valued workforce with the skills, knowledge, ethics and support needed to provide world-class library and information services into the future. Trish also oversees the Association’s work across policy, education and training, including supporting libraries in implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals in policy and practice. A qualified lawyer, Trish is an experienced strategic leader with experience spanning government, private industry and not for profit sectors across five countries.

Misako Nomura is a board member, chief secretariat, Library project coordinator, Assistive Technology Development Organization (ATDO) in Japan. ATDO conducts research and development of assistive technology and universal design to improve information accessibility for people with print disabilities at the national and international levels. A member of IFLA’s Regional Division Committee for Asia-Oceania. With her experiences as a former director of Information Center, Japanese Society for Persons with Disabilities, and a former chair of the IFLA Library Services to Persons with Special Needs Section, she is an inclusion advocate. She promotes how libraries can accommodate all community members under the concept of the SDGs, “leave no one behind.”

Joan Wee has more than ten years of Academic Library experience and is an author, educator, technologist, and leader. She is presently the University Librarian with the Singapore Institute of Technology (SIT) Library. Since joining SIT Library in 2016, Joan has strengthened the Library’s role as an essential learning and research partner of students and faculty and supports the University’s transformational teaching and learning goal. Under her leadership, the Library has successfully embedded Information, and Digital Literacy (IDL) skills learning as part of SIT undergraduate programmes. The IDL programmes are designed to align with university pedagogy and interdisciplinary learning. The impact of their IDL skills attainment is captured as part of the University’s identified transferrable skills under the University’s Industry Ready Skills Framework (IRSF). This framework identified 18 critical transferrable skills categorized under five competency areas: Thinking Agility, People Agility, Digital Agility, Professional Agility, and Change Agility that the student can pick up throughout their study at SIT. SIT believes education plays a vital role in nurturing the young to strive and solve the world’s pressing environmental issues and consciously weaved in the sustainability theme as part of the industry and social innovation projects that students undertake. Besides providing resources to support the students learning for specific sustainable topics, the Library also works with the University’s Community Leadership And Social Innovation Centre (CLASIC) on other initiatives.  The initiatives for this year are digitalisation and curation of students’ sustainable projects for greater awareness and two meaningful projects with the greater community to impart media and digital literacy skills to the community.

Andy Fenton is the CEO and co-founder of three ICT companies in Aotearoa New Zealand.  He has always been driven to make accessible digitisation, workflow and online community engagement capabilities to individuals and organisations (heritage-related groups, “memory institutions”, iwi, clubs, schools, libraries, archives, museums and societies). Andy has arguably overseen more digitisation projects than any other Kiwi.  Andy contributes to the sector in many ways and was elected to the inaugural National Digital Forum Board in NZ in 2006 (stepping down in 2013).  He has also been a member of the Archives & Records Association of NZ Council from 2005 to 2010.  Andy’s involvement in Standards work dates back to 1996 when he was invited to join the Australia/New Zealand Joint Standards Committee (MS/4) for Information and Image Management.  Today he is a member of Standards NZ’s International Review Group IT-021 (part of ISO TC46 – SC11, administered by Archives NZ), and in Australia, IT 21: The Records and Document Management Systems Committee of Standards Australia, where he Chairs Working Group IT-021-13 – Micrographics and Electronic imaging. Andy is particularly motivated to ensure the smaller institutions have equal access to knowledge in this space.  He has conducted presentations, workshops and audits for organisations in New Zealand, Australia and Singapore. Andy also spent 13 years in the NZ Navy. With strong organisational leadership and governance skill and experience Andy brings vast technical, materials handling, project management and standards-based expertise to this initiative, serving as adviser and internal auditor. Andy has a particularly strong interest in governance and leadership, the art of communication and connecting people, and facilitating collaboration. My organisations empower others to protect and preserve their unique and diverse cultural & heritage collections. We convert them into image formats that best suit community needs, provide tools to enhance the knowledge of that content, and make them more accessible to the community for Preservation, Management and Learning. |