The following are some highlights from the week of Governing Board meetings that have just taken place over the past week and a half. These provided an opportunity to look back over a year of both surprises and successes. 2020 has seen IFLA and the global library field demonstrate our ability to adapt, innovate and continue to provide great service, in spite of the challenges of COVID.

One of the main items for the Governing Board meeting was a discussion on the priorities for IFLA in 2021. The board agreed that delivering a successful Congress, implementing the new governance structure and delivering the new website are the three main priorities for the next year.

The 2021 Congress will be IFLA’s first virtual Congress. It was a key discussion point at all meetings – the Professional Committee, the Congress Advisory Committee, the Finance Committee, the Executive Committee and the Governing Board. We are making significant progress in designing the shape of WLIC 2021 and this has been possible because of the valuable feedback we received from you from the surveys. We are working on providing a high-quality programme, using new formats, having a stronger regional focus and drawing on the expertise of our volunteers and members. We will keep you updated on progress.

The Governance Review is being finalised and we are currently developing Rules of Procedure to reflect the new structure and define how it will work. We are also consulting about the Regional Council and Divisions with the six regions to discuss representation, diversity and working with other regional organisations. Subject to agreement on our new Statutes at the extraordinary General Assembly on 12 February 2021, the nominations and elections process will start by the end of February. The Board knows how important it is for members and volunteers to have enough information and guidance during the implementation phase to move smoothly to the new structure.

The third priority of the Board is finalising IFLA’s new website.  We recognise the importance of the website for communication with members, volunteers, the library field and external organisations and we are looking forward to the launch.

The Finance Committee reviewed the proposed 2021 Budget in detail at its meeting and the Treasurer then presented it to the Governing Board for adoption. The Budget includes the resources required to support the governance and professional structure, IFLA Headquarters, Key Initiatives and earmarked projects and is based on ensuring the sustainability of the organisation.

The Board also noted and welcomed the ongoing work across IFLA to deliver on IFLA’s Strategic Plan 2019-2024. IFLA staff continue to do great work despite the restrictions and challenges facing them. And the Board is impressed with how effectively Professional Units have moved to using digital tools for continuing their work and how well they have adapted.  

In other business, the Board approved a new Statement on Libraries and Open and Good Governance, which will be published shortly. An important facet of access to information is access to government information, as a basis for transparency, accountability, and participation in government and this statement serves both as a tool for IFLA in advocacy at the United Nations, and for IFLA’s Members in their own advocacy.

I would like to thank the members of the Governing Board, our Secretary General and the IFLA Headquarters team for all their hard work over the past year. Everyone has done an amazing job, despite the circumstances. It is a pleasure working with such a great bunch of people and I am looking forward to continuing in 2021.

For those who are celebrating and taking holidays in the coming weeks, I wish you a happy and relaxing time, and to everyone – my best wishes for the coming year.

Christine Mackenzie
IFLA President 2019-2021