Mandla Ntombela, Glòria Pérez-Salmeron, John Tsebe, Gerald Leitner

The 2nd meeting of African ministers responsible for libraries took place on 5-6 July in Durban, South Africa. IFLA President Glòria Pérez-Salmerón and Secretary General Gerald Leitner were proud to be there in support of efforts to strengthen the African library field.

At the time of IFLA’s 2015 World Library and Information Congress in Cape Town, ministers from across Africa met for an unprecedented meeting focused on libraries.

Coming from ministries for culture and heritage, they represented the key government figures for libraries. At the event, they signed a declaration, underlining their commitment to the values and future of our institutions.

Three years on, an even bigger group of ministers came together, and IFLA was honoured to be invited to address them, as well as representatives of libraries from across Africa.

The meeting included clear updates on what governments across Africa have been doing to implement the commitments they made. The importance of the UN Sustainable Development Goals, as well as the place of IFLA’s Library Map of the World in broader efforts to strengthen the sector was clear.

A new Declaration was agreed, confirming the importance of supporting the work of libraries, and reaffirming the importance of working with our institutions to deliver the Sustainable Development Goals. IFLA will share a short brief on the declaration shortly, once the final version is published.

IFLA Secretary-General noted in his speech to the ministers present:

Through the declaration coming from this meeting, through the actions you take when you get home, through the positions you take at the UN, at the World Intellectual Property Organisation, you can leave a legacy that will make the world a better place.

In her closing remarks, IFLA President Glòria Pérez-Salmerón said :

I cannot imagine anywhere else in the world where so many ministers would come together to talk libraries. It is evidence of the leadership of South Africa, […] and it is evidence of your collective commitment.

I want the story of Africa to be a story of bridging the divide. Of inclusion, of participation, of empowerment, of success. I believe it will be. That you can get there.

Once the Durban Declaration is published, IFLA will produce a brief for members. You can already download the speeches of the IFLA President (PDF) and Secretary General (PDF).