Our special interest group works to promote and strengthen the roles that librarians play in times of disaster, developing innovative responses to global health challenges, and contributing to achieving the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals.

Librarians have the potential to play enhanced, pivotal roles in global and disaster health. Those roles stretch from disaster preparedness and planning; the production, organisation, quality assessment and use of evidence; to providing essential services in emergencies, as first responders, community hubs and places of safety, and providing reliable information to professionals and citizens.

We recognise that librarians work alongside other professionals, yet often lack recognition for the skills they bring to tackling global health issues, or when responding in a crisis situation or event. This informed our input into IFLA’s briefing paper Disaster Risk Response – A brief on Libraries and the Sendai Framework in 2018.

More recently we authored a chapter in The WHO Guidance on Research Methods for Health Emergency and Disaster Risk Management and supported IFLA becoming a signatory for Cochrane’s ‘trusted evidence for all’ campaign.

We are working with a wide range of partners to build stronger networks and to ensure that librarians are actively involved in all levels of activity, including planning, responding and learning from disasters at local, national and international levels. These include disaster risk reduction consultants, researchers and other colleagues outside the library field who are working with us to develop and deliver key messages.

Skills development
Global challenges and uncertainties, whether social, technological or financial, as well as those caused by environmental or conflict-based disasters, require robust strategies and methods to equip a skilled, flexible and agile library and information workforce for the future.

We are helping librarians gain the skills, capabilities, and confidence to respond to new and emerging roles in disaster risk reduction and global health; and working to ensure that opportunities are targeted at areas of most need.

Alongside promoting existing training materials – often via our webinars – we run sessions to support skills development during IFLA congresses and satellite meetings, and through partner organisations and networks.

Resources and publications in support of evidence-based practice
We develop high-quality resources, aligned with existing initiatives, to promote evidence-based practice, share good practice to reduce duplication, and achieve better value and impact.

Our multilingual work, recognising that evidence is still predominantly in English so excluding access for many, aims to improve access to guides and other resources in multi-languages, but also to use this process as a way of building engagement and collaboration.

We work closely with HIFA, and other global networks to help raise awareness about, and to help tackle health and digital literacy inequity.

Working in partnership, not duplicating the work of others
This principle informs our close work with peer organisations including colleagues at Evidence Aid, The Librarian Reserve Corps, and the Healthcare Information for All network (HIFA.org) with over 20,000 members interacting on five global forums.

Global and Disaster Health impacts on all library services and librarians in whatever sector. We collaborate with other IFLA units including: Health and Biosciences Libraries; CPDWL; Women, Information and Libraries; Science and Technology Libraries; Public Libraries, and are keen to explore other ways of reaching out to other IFLA units.

This unit is sponsored by Health and Biosciences Libraries Section.

This unit is part of the Professional Division G.