The Public Libraries Section were awarded joint-winners of the 2016  IFLA Professional Unit Communication Award at the Closing Ceremony of the WLIC 2016 for the following nomination.

The Public Libraries Section provides an active international forum and network for the development and promotion of public libraries. The Section’s objectives for 2015-2016 are to:

  1. Support the sector through the sharing of best practice
  2. Advocate for equitable access to information and knowledge for communities world-wide that supports the democratic process, shared understanding and community well-being.
  3. Build capacity for public libraries and public librarians internationally through an agile and engaged Section

Key to the realisation of these objectives is the need to regularly review the various communication strategies and their applicability to the membership and to the sector.  This occurs at the Section’s annual and mid-term meetings. The Section has a strong  sustained commitment and focus on the use of social media as a way of informing and engaging with its stakeholders due to its immediacy and capacity for sharing.

Since the 2015 IFLA World Library and Information Congress in Cape Town the Public Library Section has:

  • Reviewed its Action Plan which provides a roadmap for the Section in informing key stakeholders about key issues and developments relating to the sector.
  • Continued to use the Blog as the main communication tool for the Section’s members and the wider LIS community with a focus on the public library sector. In this electronic age the Section believes that this is more appropriate and timely than the traditional newsletter.

Example of a Guest Blogger image used on the blog which includes a photograph of the face of the guest blogger.

To ensure that stories are relevant to an international audience individual Standing Committee members act ‘Guest Blogger’ each month, contributing an average of three stories about issues relating to public libraries in their region. The Guest Blogger series is branded with images of individual Standing Committee members (see example above). This ensures: multiple ‘voices; membership engagement and ownership and; a wide readership. Whenever possible blog posts are translated into in several languages. This is complemented by regular blog items posted by the Section’s Information Coordinator and topics of interest to the sector. Standing Committee member Pirkko Lindberg (Finland) reports that when she tweeted her Guest Blogger post on the new Finnish Library Act she had several re tweets from all over the world. As a result a member of Mexican Senate asked for more information on the Act via Facebook messenger because she had read the Public Library Section blog.

  • Continually updated the Section’s web page, posting regular news items with links to relevant information. All Section members are actively involved in identifying stories and opportunities.

A major web resource that was developed collaboratively by the Standing Committee in 2015 was Responding! Public Libraries and Refugees a document that detailed best practice in providing library services to refugee communities, especially in response to the European crisis. This was shared across many public library networks and was tweeted by notable industry commentators including David Lankes and Stephen Abram. It also formed the basis of the Section’s involvement in a webinar, Library Services for immigrants and refugees, organised by the American Library Association.

  • Maximised use of the Section's Facebook Page for the quick and informal dissemination of information.  At 30 June 2016 the site has 1033 followers. In order to extend audience reach this is linked to the Section’s blog. Standing Committee members are actively encouraged to post to Facebook and to work within their own networks to gain more ‘Likes’ encouraging, galvanizing and advocating for Public Libraries around the world.
  • Continued to promote 1001 Libraries to See Before You Die. This online initiative aims to bring together best practice examples of public library buildings and spaces from around the world. It also includes links to relevant websites and other resources. Since the site’s launch in Lyon in August 2014 the site has had 81,984 views. At 30 June 2016 there are 86 posts showcasing public libraries in 22 countries. The site has been widely promoted by other Associations. For example CILIP’s Public and Mobile Libraries Group have a regular feature in its journal "Access" showcasing libraries that are included in the database.
  • Promoted the results of the Section’s online survey "What words do you use to describe a public library?" And disseminated the results through our extended networks which included National Associations. An example of a story that appeared on this initiative is one that appeared in the December edition of the Australian publication Public Library News (p.9). This was directed at the community and built on a previous project aimed at library and information professionals with the aim of identifying key words for future advocacy purposes. The survey was translated into six languages by Section members (Spanish, Croatian, German, Finnish, Catalan and Brazilian Portuguese) and distributed widely using national networks. There were 507 responses from 32 countries.
  • Used Basecamp as a means of working collaboratively amongst ourselves and with members of IFLA’s  Library Service for Multicultural Populations Section in developing our off-site session for WLIC in Columbus "A sanctuary in times of need".
  • The Section actively partners with other IFLA professional units, national library associations and other agencies in developing programs, projects and other initiatives. These partnerships allow for the ready dissemination of information and awareness of the Section and the critical role public libraries play in the world economy. In 2015/2016 significant partnerships included:

    • American Library Association (Webinar Library Services for immigrants and refugees)
    • Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation (Global Libraries Data Atlas Project)
    • Danish Agency for Culture (Public Library of the Year Award – 2015 & 2016)
    • IFLA Continuing Professional Development and Workplace Learning (WLIC 2015 & Library Services for immigrants and refugees)
    • IFLA Library Services to People with Special Needs Section.(WLIC 215)
    • IFLA Information Technology, Library and Research Services for Parliaments (WLIC 2015)
    • IFLA Asia and  Oceania Section (WLIC 2015)
    • IFLA Law Libraries Section (WLIC 2016)
    • Library Service for Multicultural Populations Section (WLIC 2016)
    • IFLA Library Services to People With Special Needs Section (development of a new standard for Homeless people)
    • IFLA Literacy and Reading Section (WLIC 2016)
    • IFLA Library Services to Multicultural Populations Section (WLIC 2016)
    • IFLA New Professionals SIG (Library Services for immigrants and refugees)
    • City Libraries of Zagreb (mid-term March 2016)
    • Free Library of Philadelphia (Satellite 2016)
    • Columbus Metropolitan Library (off-site session WLIC 2016)

Standing Committee members are encouraged to actively disseminate IFLA stories through their own networks to ensure an awareness of developments and projects beyond the immediate IFLA community. The use of social media and national email lists are commonly used for this purpose.
Section members also seek opportunities to engage with their colleagues and discuss the work of the Section and of IFLA:

  • Marian Morgan Bindon, PLS Chair wrote for incite the magazine of the Australian Library and Information Association about the inspiration of working collaboratively through the Section in a series of interviews with Australians involved in IFLA.
  • Hitomi  Takeuchi from Japan has written about our mid-term meetings for the Japanese Library Journal.
  • In Denmark Jakob Guillois Lærkes gave a presentation about the work of the Public Libraries Section at the Danish National Library Convention.
  • In Croatia, Ljiljana Sabljak has spoken at the Croatian Library Association about the work done by the Section in relation to refugee communities. As the host of our 2016 mid-term meeting  in March  Ljiljana ensured wide coverage about the event by the local media. She also wrote about the program for HKD novosti (Croatian Library Association News).
  • Leikny  Indergaard from Norway spoke about international cooperation at the Right to Read International Literacy Conference held in Dublin  in September 2015.
  • In Finland Pirkko Lindberg regularly presents a section on the Section at the Finnish Council of Public Libraries annual meeting.
  • Annie Dourlent from France  spoke about our work at the German Bibliothekartag (National Librarians' Congress) in a session Donna Scheder and Barbara Lison.