Over the past two weeks, IFLA has organised a series of round tables, designed to deepen the conversation with our Members and volunteers about the future of our Federation. The feedback we have received will help the Governing Board improve and develop proposals to be delivered at our General Assembly on 5 November.

IFLA’s Governance Review aims to match the ambition of our Strategy with the decision-making structures that will allow us to deliver.

At the heart of this will be ensuring that our governance allows also for more efficiency and collaboration, stronger regional representation, greater financial and organisational sustainability, more varied opportunities for participation, and better support for volunteers.

These were the goals fixed by our Members in a survey in October 2019, and set in stone by IFLA’s Governing Board in December of the same year.

IFLA will not be able to do this without acting together, drawing on the ideas, experience and insights of the people who make our organisation what it is.

We have done this already, not only through the survey last year, but also through a second one in June-July 2020, through consultations with experienced members of our field, and through a constant process of listening to your views.

The result has been an updated Governing Board proposal for IFLA’s new governance, presented in early August.

Clear Commitment, Invaluable Ideas

The round tables organised throughout the second half of August were just the latest step in this consultation, designed to allow the IFLA Governing Board to move closer to proposals that will deliver on the goals set by our members.

Participants from all continents and library types therefore participated in a series of 11 virtual meetings, asking questions and sharing their views on the future of our Federation.

With six focused on IFLA’s Members across different world regions, and five on our professional units – the biggest brains trust in the library field – this provided an excellent opportunity to test out the ideas proposed by the Governing Board in its June first draft, and an updated working paper in August.

Participants welcomed the changes already made – notably to strengthen further the democratic nature of the Governing Board by adding two more directly elected members.

They also tackled key questions around how to find the balance between retaining talent and providing spaces for new voices, how to organise support to professional units, and how to shape IFLA’s proposed new regional structures.

Overall, participants underlined their commitment to IFLA, and to working together to continue IFLA’s transformation in support of the global library field.

Next Steps

The most immediate task now is for IFLA’s Governing Board to consider the feedback received – both during the round tables and shared subsequently by e-mail.

This will happen at the Governing Board’s mid-September meeting, and be followed by an intense process of preparing concrete proposals for amendments to IFLA’s Statutes and Rules of Procedure.

Members will then receive a presentation of the final proposals at our live-streamed General Assembly on 5 November 2020. At the same meeting, IFLA’s Members will vote on a separate amendment to our Statutes which will allow for remote voting on key decisions. 

Assuming this amendment is passed, Members will be asked to vote on changes to the Statutes that will implement the proposals in the Governance Review, allowing the new structures – if accepted – to be implemented in time for our elections in 2021.

Gerald Leitner
IFLA Secretary General