From the 20 – 22 July IFLA hosted a high- level meeting in Windhoek, Namibia in partnership with the Namibia Library and Information Service, as part of the International Advocacy Programme. The 21 participants included honorary guest Her Excellency Matilda, Amissah-Arthur, wife of the Vice-President of Ghana; Library leaders from 12 countries in Africa; library association representatives including African Library Associations & Institutions (AfLIA) and IFLA. Dr. Buhle Mbambo-Thata, Director, UNISA Library, South Africa and host of the IFLA Africa office facilitated the meeting.

The main objective of the meeting was to develop an advocacy agenda for public and community libraries in the Africa region until 2026. The meeting provided the opportunity for African library leaders to identify priorities for the International Advocacy Programme that would support African public and community libraries. This included positioning African libraries to address the UN Sustainable Development Goals and increasing libraries ability to assess and address the issues and challenges emerging within African regions by aligning public and community libraries with government priorities and community needs.

The meeting’s high-level status attracted media attention and opportunities for advocacy during the meeting. Media appearances on local panel and breakfast television highlighted the role of libraries across the region. Her Excellency Monica Geingos, First Lady of Namibia and The Minister of Education, Arts and Culture, Honorable Katrina Hanse-Himarwa, hosted a dinner in honour of Her Excellency Matilda, Amissah-Arthur and stressed the importance of access to information to support health, education, and economic outcomes in Namibia and across Africa.

Moving forward

On the final day of the meeting, the participants reviewed a draft Advocacy Agenda for African libraries towards 2026 that will be further developed through consultations with the African library community in the coming months. Activities to implement the agenda as part of IAP will commence by the end of 2015.   

The International Advocacy Programme (IAP) is a new four year programme that will address the information gap of library workers, raise awareness of the important role libraries can play by providing relevant services and programmes for public access to information, build capacity of librarians to advocate, and increase the ongoing participation of public library representatives in the advocacy environment at community, national and international levels. Visit the IFLA website for more information about the International Advocacy Programme.