Creative Commons, a longstanding partner of IFLA, is leading an effort to advocate for a UNESCO Recommendation on Open Culture. This would follow in the footsteps of current UNESCO recommendations on Open Science and Open Educational Resources.

As the goal of Open Culture centres on making cultural heritage more accessible for the benefit of all people, IFLA has been a keen supporter of this effort. We have been collaborating with Creative Commons over the past years to drive forward the discourse on Open Culture and represent diverse perspectives from the library sector, including at the Creative Commons Global Summit in Mexico City in September 2023.

IFLA once again joined Creative Commons for an intensive workshop in Lisbon, Portugal held in May 2024 to help outline a pathway towards an eventual recommendation.

Open Culture Strategic Workshop Group Photo by Filipa Alfama, CC BY 4.0

What is Open Culture?

There has been a rich debate on the parameters and definitions of Open Culture in the context of this project. In IFLA’s perspective, a focus on digitising cultural heritage and making those collections available for education, research, and cultural enrichment is the most realistic focus.

In this, IFLA stresses the need to carve out exceptions for cultural heritage that might not be appropriate for open access, such as that belonging to Indigenous communities.

From the perspective of Creative Commons, openly shared cultural heritage:

  • is easier to find
  • reaches broader and more diverse audiences
  • can be preserved, safeguarded and refined in digital form
  • can be (re)used with more legal certainty

Open cultural heritage leads to:

  • More resilient and relevant collection holders
  • More vibrant research and more participatory education
  • More dynamic cultural creativity
  • More just, democratic, diverse, free, and equitable societies

We encourage you to refer to this publication for more information: What are the Benefits of Open Culture?  [Creative Commons, 2024].

IFLA’s Work Towards a Recommendation

IFLA was represented in a group of experts brought together by Creative Commons to further work towards identifying next-steps in the pursuit of an intergovernmental recommendation on Open Culture.

Policy and Advocacy Manager Claire McGuire moderated a panel of UNESCO representatives from the national, regional, and international levels. This grounded the workshop by laying out the processes UNESCO follows to create such normative instruments.

What does this mean for libraries?

Going forward, IFLA will continue to play a central role together with partners from Creative Commons to elaborate this effort. For libraries, this means a chance to influence an process which advances national commitments that create an enabling environment for libraries to succeed in their mission.

As the work develops, IFLA will identify opportunities to represent library perspectives and amplify the voices of our members towards an outcome that will hopefully bring value to the library sector.

Stay tuned for more!

IFLA gives a big thank you to Creative Commons for involving us in this workshop!

Contact: Claire McGuire (