BSLA/LAC/MLAS meetings in Panama

30 Library Associations met in Panama from 17-23 April 2016 to develop strategies for advocacy at the national level, to advance regional projects, and to network with associations from around the world. The week included three events: a scientific seminar, a BSLA (Building Strong Library Associations) workshop and midterm meetings of two IFLA sections: Management of Library Associations (MLAS) and Latin America and Caribbean (LAC).

Altogether, 76 professionals from 30 Library Associations participated in the events, 19 of them from 17 different Latin American regions and the Caribbean countries.

The outcomes of the meetings were captured in a Letter of Intent signed by all participants declaring their intention to work together to strengthen libraries in the region.

Read the Letter of Intent:

The week began on Sunday with the training of BSLA trainers and continued Monday with the international scientific seminar, "Transforming the LAC region through Libraries" held at the University of Panama.

BSLA/LAC/MLAS meetings in Panama

The objectives of the seminar were to:

  • raise the awareness associations play in leadership roles in their societies and how they can contribute to achieving the objectives of UN Sustainable Development Goals;
  • track plans for regional and national action for future collaboration, particularly in the LAC region, and to build common strategies; and
  • highlight the role of associations of LAC in the reform of copyright laws.

BSLA/LAC/MLAS meetings in PanamaThe seminar was opened by the Provost of the University of Panama, the Director of the National Library of Panama, the Director of Culture of the City of Panama, the President of the Panamanian Association of Librarians and the IFLA President-Elect.

The opening was followed by the participation of the IFLA Secretary General Designate, Gerald Leitner, the President of EBLIDA, Jukka Relander, Sueli Mara Ferreira, Chair of IFLA LAC section, and MLAS Chair Barbara Schleihagen, among other prestigious speakers.

On Tuesday, 19 April shared meetings of the MLAS and IFLA LAC sections were attended by members of the two sections along with BSLA workshop participants as observers.

It was a unique opportunity to introduce them to the operation of IFLA sections and their Standing Committees and to emphasize the value of sharing agendas and concerns among representatives of the 30 associations.

BSLA/LAC/MLAS meetings in Panama

The BSLA workshop at the National Library started on Wednesday, 20 April. The opening was attended by a large group of professionals and in which experiences of the Associations of Germany, Austria, Croatia, Slovakia, Spain, Finland, Lebanon, Netherlands and Norway were shared. This was the largest BSLA Workshop in LAC Region ever held.

Its objectives were to:

  • strengthen library associations;
  • strengthen cross-border networks;
  • adopt IFLA recommendations to ensure the high quality library services; and
  • strengthen partnerships through the increase of its members and partners—such partnerships have formed the basis of IFLA BSLA.

Members of MLAS, LAC and various professional associations from the LAC region participated in the workshop.

BSLA/LAC/MLAS meetings in Panama

On 22 April, representatives of library associations in the region signed the Letter of Intent.

Finally, we must highlight the dedicated work carried out throughout the week by Sueli Mara (LAC), Barbara Schleihagen (MLAS) and Fiona Bradley (IFLA Manager, Development Programmes). 

Thank you for a great week in Panama!

Glòria Pérez-Salmerón
IFLA President-Elect