For many libraries, good relationships with local town halls and councils are essential. But as IFLA President Christine Mackenzie set out in interventions at the World Congress of Local and Regional Leaders, libraries can also be key partners for success.

With a strong focus on providing adapted services to users, libraries are strongly implanted in their communities. Increasingly, in addition to providing access to books and other writings, they are helping to support stronger communities and partner with others.

In three separate interventions at the World Congress of Local and Regional Leaders, organised by United Cities and Local Governments (UCLG) in Durban, South Africa, IFLA President Christine Mackenzie spoke alongside mayors and senior officials from major world cities to encourage them to work with, and through, their libraries in order to achieve their goals.

In one intervention, she focused on the role that libraries can play in future local cultural policies. Through their focus on universal access, on stimulating creativity and on making connections with other services, libraries offer an effective means of ensuring that culture really is for all, and has the maximum impact on wellbeing.

In a further speech, she talked about the application of the concept of the right to the city to libraries, and how they helped deliver on this. The potential for libraries to act as centres for interaction and connection-building within communities, as well as a gateway to information as a precondition for participation, is clear form many examples around the world.

A third panel discussion allowed her to underline again the role that culture can play in development, and the need to support libraries – often the most visited and nearest by cultural institution – in order to realise this potential.

IFLA looks forward to continuing to work with UCLG, and in particular its Agenda21Culture initiative, to build understanding of, and support for the work of libraries at all levels, around the world.

Read our submission to the Human Rights Council on how libraries advance human rights at the local level.