Advocacy Forward Look: Opportunities for Libraries, January-July 2023
31 January 2023
We’re happy to share a high-level overview of key meetings, events and observances that provide opportunities for libraries to make our voices heard by governments and wider stakeholder groups. Take a look through, and think where you want and could be able to get involved!
Library advocacy is both about creating our own opportunities to draw attention to the work of our profession, and about making best use of the opportunities created by others.
Indeed, joining in events organised by those outside of our field – conferences, celebrations, international days – can be a way of joining the conversation, showing that we are not only listening, but should also be listened to!
The goal throughout this is to get people to think differently about libraries, driving understanding, support and action, from the global to the local levels.
We’re therefore happy to share the latest IFLA advocacy forward look, highlighting just some of the key dates coming up in the next half year or so. You can use this list to plan your own activities, from simply making a post on social media to making statements to organising or attending events.
31 Jan – Culture and Education Consultations: today sees the start of a series of consultations organised by UNESCO to inform a new framework on culture and arts education. This new framework is expected to debut at the World Conference on Culture and Arts Education in Abu Dhabi at the end of the year. From regional consultations to a multistakeholder dialogue, there will be lots of opportunities to underline the role of libraries, notably in the non-formal and informal education space. See our look ahead on culture for more.
20 Feb – World Day of Social Justice: commemorations for this day are led by the International Labour Organisation, and cover a broad range of topics around the core principle that social sustainability depends on ensuring fairness and inclusion today. For libraries, it is an opportunity to show how our wider work – and specific social justice initiatives – contribute to this wider movement.
27 February – Regional Sustainable Development Fora: on 27 February, the first of five Regional Sustainable Development Fora opens in Niamey, Niger, focused on Africa. These are opportunities for participants to review progress and identify issues at the regional level in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals, and to send messages to the global level. IFLA will look to support libraries to engage effectively in these, both to raise awareness of libraries, and build connections. See our sustainable development look ahead for more.
8 Mar – International Women’s Day: the world is still a long way from gender equality, with the COVID 19 pandemic leading in many respects to the halting or even reversal of progress. Just as with other groups at risk of marginalisation, well designed library services that take account of needs (and in particular intersectionalities) can make a difference by ensuring that everyone as the information access they need to fulfil their potential.
13-17 Mar – World Intellectual Property Organization Standing Committee on Copyright and Related Rights (SCCR): as always, IFLA will be present and working to ensure that the governments meeting at SCCR advance work that will make a practical difference for libraries, freeing them up to fulfil their missions more effectively. There will be a particular focus on preservation, including across borders, something that is only becoming more important in the face of climate change. Watch our website for more information, including about how to get involved.
13-16 Mar – World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) Forum: alongside the Internet Governance Forum, the WSIS Forum is one of the key annual meetings in the digital space that allows for evaluation and assessment of how well the internet and technology in general is supporting development. This year’s theme is particularly clear, looking at WSIS Action Lines for building back better and accelerating the achievement of the SDGs. With libraries prominent in these action lines, there is a real opportunity to provide our insight into how our institutions can ensure that the potential of technology translates into real-world outcomes. See our digital forward look for more.
7 Apr – World Health Day: in addition to underlining the capacity of the library field to adapt and innovate, the pandemic has also shown how vital library services are in supporting health decision-making, within government and among communities. Yet more can be done to ensure that every government – and every community – benefits from this support. We’ll be looking to build our understanding of how libraries fit into health this year.
21 Apr – Creativity Day, 22 Apr – World Book and Copyright Day, 26 Apr – World Intellectual Property (IP) Day: this series of events, organised by the World Intellectual Property Organization and UNESCO, are highlights of the library year, celebrating the books that are at the core of the history and present of libraries. They are also chances to underline the importance of access, as provided by libraries, as a means of sustaining creativity, and ensuring that it is inclusive. With World IP Day focusing on women and IP, the importance of ensuring that everyone can benefit is high on the agenda, something that libraries should be able to draw on in our advocacy.
3 May – World Press Freedom Day: press freedom is a key subcategory of the freedom of expression that itself is the mirror of the freedom of access to information guaranteed by libraries. We of course rely on the ability of journalists and other writers in order to be able to provide material to readers, but can also support journalism, especially at the local level, and work to counteract the chilling effects of (threats of) censorship. Library documentary heritage collections can also transmit the memory of and spark discussion on how these freedoms have been shaped – and challenged. We’ll be looking forward to working with UNESCO on this key event.
17 May – World Telecoms and Information Society Day: with a number of key UN meetings next year, 2023 will see a lot of preparatory initiatives, and in particular the Global Digital Compact. This is set to establish a new programme of priorities for the governance of the internet. IFLA has already made a submission. World Telecoms and Information Society Day will be a further opportunity to highlight this work, alongside other chances to get involved in order to make the library voice heard. See our digital forward look for more.
21 Day – World Day for Cultural Diversity: libraries have a key role to play in cultural diversity, both as a space for accessing the full range of human creativity, but also in providing an accessible, democratic space and support for new expression. We believe that libraries should receive stronger recognition for this contribution, and be brought into the heart of policies and strategies in this space. Read more in our culture forward look.
5 June – World Environment Day: a lot of our work this year will be built around preparing for the Conference of the Parties of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change in November, with a particular focus on libraries supporting climate empowerment, as well as the role of cultural collections. World Environment Day is a great opportunity to highlight these efforts, and ensure that those working to drive policy and behavioural change understand that they can work with and through libraries to achieve their goals. See our climate forward look for more.
6-8 June: 9th Session of the Conference of the Parties of the 2005 Convention on Cultural Diveristy, preceded by the 4th Civil Society Forum (2005 Convention): this is a major opportunity for key players in culture and cultural diversity to come together, and share good practice. As well as relevant discussions on the role of institutions in providing access, there are also reviews of a number of countries’ implementation of the Convention. This is a great opportunity for libraries to get involved and show what they are doing to help their countries upcoming their commitment to cultural diversity. Read more in our culture forward look.
20 Jun – World Refugee Day: the role of libraries in helping people at risk of marginalisation has already been mentioned a few times in this piece – what they can do to help those who have been displaced by war or other disaster is just one example. IFLA will soon publish its guidelines for libraries serving displaced persons, drawing on good practice from around the world. The day itself should be an opportunity to highlight the need to provide support for refugees, and how libraries can contribute.
5 July – High Level Political Forum: the main annual UN event on the Sustainable Development Goals is both a great opportunity to celebrate progress and learning about development, and a chance to urge greater progress. The theme ‘Accelerating the recovery from the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) and the full implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development at all levels’ is well suited to libraries, given our presence from global institutions to local communities. We will look to engage librarians in countries undertaking Voluntary National Reviews, as well as provide guidance to others to shape their governments’ inputs at the Forum. See our sustainable development look ahead for more.
International Decade of Indigenous Languages: We’re already into the second year of this decade, which builds on the success of the earlier International Year of Indigenous Languages. With a strong focus on promoting preservation and use of languages, libraries have a major potential role to play, through their collections, services and outreach. See our culture forward look for more.