MLAS at IFLA WLIC 2022 in Dublin, Ireland
MLAS at IFLA WLIC 2022 in Dublin, Ireland

Over the last years the IFLA Management of Library Associations Section (MLAS) has followed a strategy to engage closely with the regions of the world: Asia/Oceania, Europe, Latin America and the Caribbean, Middle East and North Africa, Sub-Saharan Africa and North America.

Currently, MLAS is partnering with IFLA’s New Professionals Special Interest Group (NPSIG), the IFLA Environment, Sustainability and Libraries Section (ENSULIB), and the IFLA Regional Divisions to present a webinar series on the “Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and Library Associations.” Each region will select a focus area based on top topics resulting from a survey MLAS carried out during 2020-2021 – covering strategic planning, advocacy, financial sustainability and public awareness.  The webinars include interactive opportunities to engage attendees in conversations in languages spoken in the regions. Loida Garcia-Febo, Information Coordinator for MLAS is chairing the webinars team composed of representatives from IFLA Sections, coordinating across time zones and seeking to bring interdisciplinary experts and librarians to the virtual events.

The United Nations has stated that the world is in the last Decade of Action to meet the SDGs. Libraries are sustainable accelerators and library associations are key in moving forward the library agenda in each country. MLAS’ mission is to build and support strong library associations. Collaborating together with other IFLA groups and regions of the world, this activity will allow us to support national library associations and highlight effective strategies to equip them to support their country to achieve sustainable development.

The first webinar featured the North America Region. A webinar with Asia-Oceania is scheduled for 7 June 2023. Coordination with MENA and Sub-Saharan Africa regions is underway. Event recordings will be posted on the IFLA-L listserv, and on the MLAS Facebook and Twitter channels.

Event speakers for the North America Regional Division (NA RDC) webinar were Julius C. Jefferson, NA RDC Chair; Thanos Giannakopoulous, Director of the United Nations Library in New York City; Rebekkah Smith Aldrich, Executive Director, Mid-Hudson Library System; President of the Sustainable Libraries Initiative; and members of the ALA United Nations Sustainable Development Goals Subcommittee and ALA UN 2030 SDGs Task Force John Szabo, City Librarian of Los Angeles, Chief Executive of the Los Angeles Public Library; Robin Kear, Liaison librarian at the University of Pittsburgh, and Loida Garcia-Febo, International Library Consultant. 

In 2021 MLAS created a series of videos, featuring interviews of library leaders from regions across the globe, discussing “Advocacy: The Power of Networking.” The videos are available on the MLAS YouTube Channel.  The videos set the basis for MLAS multi-session event during WLIC 2021 where MLAS presented six online sessions featuring all IFLA regions including interactive conversations in languages spoken in the regions. The series concluded with a WLIC Open Session featuring regional leaders who presented advocacy highlights from their region.

In 2022 MLAS partnered with IFLA New Professionals Special Interest Group (NPSIG) to present the six-session webinar series “Empowering library leaders and diversity worldwide.”

Library associations in each region shared opportunities provided for new and senior librarians, including leadership opportunities and how library associations foster diversity within the library profession and leadership roles. Interactive conversations in regionally-based languages revealed that across the regions, mentoring and coaching are commonly-shared best practices and team building and skills for leading in times of crisis are the top recommendations. Improved communication and leadership training are the needs most frequently identified.

The insights gained from these webinars informed the MLAS Open Session at WLIC 2022 which focused on providing delegates with a view into how Associations around the world are supporting leadership development in the library and information field.