What opportunities are there between now and the end of the year to highlight and celebrate the work of libraries to decision-makers and partners? Our look ahead sets out some key moments at the international level, to help you in your planning!

Through our advocacy work, we help people outside of our field – from national and international governments to individuals – to understand what libraries today are about, and the difference we can make.

A key way of doing this is through getting involved in international days and events where these stakeholders gather, and making sure that we are seen and heard. This article sets out some of the most important ones, where in particular IFLA will be active, and you too may want to get involved. Take a look through, and contact us if you want to talk more about how you can engage!

16-19 September: SDG Action Weekend and Summit 

Formally marking the half-way point in the 2030 Agenda, the UN General Assembly will spend two days at the SDG Summit discussing progress towards the Sustainable Development Goals, and how we can accelerate this. Ahead of the SDG Summit, the SDG Action Weekend brings together governments, UN officials, experts and civil society. IFLA will be present and closely engaged, underlining how faster progress on towards Agenda’s goals will benefit from including libraries.  

 You can get involved by signing our Library SDG Pledge, visiting the SDG Action Weekend website, and can read more on our event page.  

 28 September: International Day for the Universal Access to Information 

Born out of Right to Know Day, this day is an opportunity to underline the importance of access not only to government information (through freedom of information laws and proactive reporting), but also to information in general. This year’s theme focuses on why online spaces matter for access, with a main event in Oxford, UK, but also a series of activities around the world. IFLA will produce an opinion piece for the event, but check out the UNESCO website for more, and in particular the list of global events. 

 1-31 October: Urban October 

Starting with World Habitat Day and closing with World Cities Day, Urban October is led by UN Habitat, and focuses on how we can achieve the goal of sustainable urbanisation, as a key means of delivering development for all. In addition to global observances, there are many national-level events taking place. IFLA plans to hold webinars during the month, as well as organising a meeting between African librarians and UN Habitat in Nairobi. Check out the UN Habitat website and watch our news pages for more.  

 1 –7 October: Banned Books Week 

An initiative of the American Library Association, but one which is increasingly marked elsewhere in the world, this is an opportunity to draw attention to threats to the ability of libraries to acquire and give access to the books their communities need, independently of political or other pressures. With these seemingly only growing right now, the importance of protecting the rights of libraries and their uses is high. IFLA will be running activities, and you can take a look at the Banned Books Week website for more.  

 3 – 6 Oct: Creative Commons Global Summit  

Creative Commons’ annual meeting is a great opportunity to celebrate how openness – open knowledge, open culture and more – can make a positive impact, as well as to discuss how to ensure that this can happen in ways that are sustainable and respectful of legitimate interests. This year’s conference is in Mexico City, and IFLA HQ will be there alongside local members, talking about the benefits of alliances between libraries and others in support of advocacy and more. Keep an eye on our website for more.  

 8-12 October: Internet Governance Forum 

The United Nations’ Internet Governance Forum is the primary multistakeholder event each year looking at the way the internet works, and how its potential can best be realised to deliver sustainable development. This year’s event takes place in Kyoto, Japan, under the theme ‘The Internet We Want – Empowering All people’, and IFLA will have a strong programme, with three side-events looking at a library vision of the internet, how libraries can empower internet users, and evolutions in public access. The event is free to attend, and will also be live streamed. See more on our event page.  

23-29 October: Open Access Week

This week is a global celebration of the impacts of open practices in scientific and scholarly communication, but also an opportunity to focus discussions on how to move forwards, and what we need to think about in doing so. This year’s theme, community over commercialisation, goes strongly in this direction, encouraging reflection on how different paths to open may be more or less positive for researchers, readers, and communities as a whole. You can check out what events are planned and submit your own on the Open Access Week website, and keep an eye on the IFLA site for activities and contributions by our volunteer groups and Headquarters.

 24-31 October: Global Media and Information Literacy (MIL) Week 

This week provides an opportunity to draw attention both to the importance of reliability and accuracy in information, and the role of libraries in building the skills that allow people both to value and recognise this. This year’s theme focuses on the need for MIL in digital spaces. We encourage libraries around the world to think about how they can get involved, . See the UNESCO website for more, and in particular, register your own events or check out their guide on how to get involved, a well as our own from last year. and keep an eye on our own webpages. 

 27 October: World Day for Audiovisual Heritage 

This is a day for drawing attention to a key part of the memory of the world – our audiovisual heritage. This has a huge value, but its preservation brings specific questions, and so the day also provides an opportunity to celebrate the work of those who safeguard it for current and future generations. Keep an eye on our website for more, as well as on the UNESCO page for the day. 

 7-22 November: UNESCO General Conference 

UNESCO holds its General Conference every two years, offering a chance both to review past achievements and plan for the future, and in particular to raise attention around key outputs. This will be the first General Conference since the agreement of the updated UNESCO-IFLA Public Library Manifesto, as well as since the MONDIACULT conference where IFLA alongside others successfully promoted the goal that UNESCO Member States should call for an explicit culture goal. There may well be opportunities ahead of the conference to engage with national UNESCO Commissions, so look out for communication from us. The UNESCO General Conference website is here. 

 7-9 November: WIPO Standing Committee on Copyright and Related Rights 

The second meeting of the Standing Committee on Copyright and Related Rights this year offers an opportunity to continue the work of the session held in May, at which we saw important progress towards practical work on limitations and exceptions, in particular for preservation and for working, across borders, in the digital age. The upcoming meeting will likely focus on research exceptions as well as the proposed broadcasting treaty and remuneration of artists from digital music. We should also see a final version of WIPO’s toolkit on preservation exceptions. Watch our site for more.  

 30 November-12 December: COP28 

After a successful COP27 with a number of impactful and well-attended side-events, we’re looking forward to the follow-up edition, which will take place in Abu Dhabi. IFLA is again planning a range of events and other activities which will highlight both the importance of considering the impact of climate change on libraries, and culture and heritage more broadly, but also the role that our institutions and professions can play in empowering populations to act. Watch our website for more.   

30 November: Deadline for UNESCO Memory of the World International Register Nominations for the 2024-2025 cycle 

UNESCO’s Memory of the World offers a way to raise awareness of particularly important and irreplaceable collections held by libraries, archives and others, that offer unique insights into our past and present. The call for nominations for the collection opened on 1 June of this year, and will close on 30 November, and so any libraries interested in submitting, should find out more, and then make sure everything is finalised by then. You can read more in our news article on the Register.

 10 December: Human Rights Day 

Human Rights Day 2023 will mark the 75th anniversary of the signing of the Universal Declaration on Human Rights, which of course includes the right of Freedom of Access to Information that is at the heart of IFLA’s work. This year’s theme is Dignity, Freedom and Justice for all, and the United Nations have already started preparing for the day with a dedicated website. IFLA will of course be active, in particular through our Advisory Committee on Freedom of Access to Information and Freedom of Expression. Keep an eye on our website for more.  

 1 January: Public Domain Day 

While of course Public Domain Day falls next year, it is a day worth preparing for, given how strongly its goals overlap with those of libraries in general, as well as the key role of libraries in supporting the survival and accessibility of works in the public domain. It is also a time to remind why the public domain itself is worth protecting from efforts to limit it, or extract revenues which in the end most harm individuals and smaller operators. We will be preparing a story for the day, but maybe you have ideas on how you can mark it!