Ingrid ParentDear IFLA Colleagues,

In 2013, many meetings and strategies are already underway to achieve our Key Initiatives and Professional Programme with the involvement of our colleagues and partners around the world. In this newsletter, I want to share a snapshot of our priorities for the year as well as activities we have already undertaken in 2013:


2013 activities

President’s Meeting a success in Mexico

In March my second President’s Meeting, “Our Digital Futures” was held in Mexico City (6-7 March 2013) at the inspiring buildings of the Auditorium of the Museo Universitario de Arte Contemporaneo, National Autonomous University of Mexico. I thank the University and our LAC Regional Office for organising this Meeting and the Trend report meeting. It was a very well attended and engaging event, with more than two hundred international and regional participants. Speakers explored the impact of digital developments and the expanding technological, social and economic environment in which libraries operate and serve their communities, IFLA’s work on copyright exceptions and limitations and access to digital content, and the roles and opportunities for libraries in this ever-changing environment. The LAC Standing Committee took up a regional focus on many of these topics during its committee midterm meeting that followed.

Participants at the President’s Meeting in Mexico City in March 2013

Participants at the President’s Meeting in Mexico City in March 2013

Access to digital content

Trend Report to be launched in August 2013

Prior to the President’s Meeting, a meeting of experts for IFLA’s Trend Report was held on 4-5 March 2013. Ten experts from a wide variety of fields debated trends in the information environment and their impact in shaping society. The IFLA Trend Report is not just concerned with what libraries will look like in a decade’s time, but also what society might look like and how libraries may adapt to best serve society’s needs. Over a very enlightening two days, topics  discussed included creativity and content generation, emerging and disruptive business models for access to and ownership of content, the democratisation of education, online activism and wearable technology.

Experts at the Trend Report meeting, Mexico, 2013 (UNAM)

Experts at the Trend Report meeting, Mexico, 2013 (UNAM)

A wider group of experts has been invited to comment on the preliminary findings of the expert meeting, and these findings will be incorporated into the full report. The Trend Report will be available to all IFLA members via an online platform, and will be launched at the World Library and Information Congress in Singapore in August 2013. The Trend Report will be an evolving and changing platform with opportunities for discussion and debate over the next few years, to assist our sector in realising its place in the information society and society at large.

IFLA welcomes WIPO Treaty for Blind and Print Disabled People

Following two weeks of negotiations in Marrakesh, Morocco, Member States of the World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO) formally adopted a ‘Treaty to Improve Access to Published Works for Persons who are Blind, Visually Impaired, or otherwise Print Disabled’ on Thursday June 27th 2013. The treaty will be open to signature by WIPO Member States on Friday the 28th. This result is a remarkable achievement, and IFLA strongly welcomes the successful conclusion of a long negotiating process in which the international library community has played a strong part.

World Summit on the Information Society workshops in Paris

The WSIS +10 Review meeting in Paris (25-27 February 2013) was an integral part of the overall WSIS review process that will contribute to a post-2015 sustainable development framework.

IFLA panel at WSIS +10 Review meeting, Paris, 2013

IFLA panel at WSIS +10 Review meeting, Paris, 2013  

IFLA hosted two successful workshops at the meeting focusing on ownership and licensing and on the role of public access to the internet in support of knowledge societies.

Cultural Heritage register in development

In 2013, IFLA began a Key Initiative activity to create a register of written Cultural Heritage at risk from destruction, through either natural disasters or armed conflict. This register will be aligned with the work of the Blue Shield partners (ICA, ICOM, ICOMOS, and CCAAA) as well as UNESCO, CDNL, and other relevant partners and  IFLA Sections. This project will help IFLA to respond in crisis situations by providing timely and relevant information to partners and assist those at high risk to take preventative actions that would improve their preparedness for a crisis or disaster situation.  

IFLA outreach in the regions

Meeting with Dr Yaacob Ibrahim, Minister for Ministry of Communications and Information, Singapore, 2013

Meeting with Dr Yaacob Ibrahim, Minister for Ministry of Communications and Information, Singapore, 2013

Many IFLA sections, including our three regional sections in Africa, Asia and Oceania and Latin America and Caribbean held midterm meetings in February and March. The regional meetings, held in Abuja, Taipei, and Mexico City respectively, were once again an important opportunity for discussion of issues and project planning. I have also had the opportunity to participate in a number of events this year, from the Information Online Conference in Brisbane, and the German Library and Information Congress in Leipzig in March, to visits to Kuala Lumpur and Singapore including a meeting with Dr Yaacob Ibrahim, Minister for Ministry of Communications and Information, Singapore.

First Regional IFLA Conference in the Arab Region

On 10-11 June 10 IFLA and the Arab Federation for Libraries and Institutions (AFLI), and the Qatar Ministry of Culture, Arts and Heritage (Public Libraries Department) held a joint conference  in Doha, Qatar on The role of national libraries and associations in supporting free access to information according to the copyright laws. This conference arose out of discussions I had with Professor Hassan Alsereihy, AFLI President, and His Excellency Dr. Hamad Bin Abdulaziz Al-Kuwari the Minister for Culture, Arts and Heritage, when I was in Doha attending the AFLI conference in November last year. This is a great initiative, as was demonstrated by the wide participation from the region and I am told, the enthusiastic discussion and debate.

Panelists at IFLA-AFLI regional conference in Doha, Qatar

Panelists at IFLA-AFLI regional conference in Doha, Qatar

The conference was followed by a two-day Building Strong Library Associations workshop (BSLA) attended by association representatives from 15 countries in the region, and resulting in sharing and exchanges of experience and reflection on strengthening and building capacity for associations.  IFLA and AFLI will now work together to take this initiative through to some ongoing activities.

Association representatives from 15 countries attending the BSLA workshop in Doha, Qatar

Association representatives from 15 countries attending the BSLA workshop in Doha, Qatar; more photos

Launch of IFLA's multilingual website

I was delighted to launch the Spanish version of IFLA’s website in February 2013. Many policies, guidelines, and other documents have been available in IFLA’s seven official languages, as well as in other languages, for some time, however, our development of multilingual websites in each of IFLA’s official languages provides improved access to existing and newly translated content in languages other than English. Multilingual access and translation of selected content began with the Spanish language, and will be followed by the launch of the French website in July. The other languages will follow over the next year.

Repository and IFLA Congress papers

We are developing a repository for IFLA Congress papers and other materials to be launched this August. The repository will initially contain the papers from the 2013 Congress in Singapore. Together with this project, we are continuing to move towards Open Access within IFLA by recommending that authors select a Creative Commons Attribution (CC-BY 3.0) license for their Congress papers, providing clarity for authors, and continued access to Congress papers worldwide through the IFLA website.

Governing IFLA

The Governing Board and its committees had a very productive meeting week in The Hague (8-11 April 2013). The Board is pleased to announce the re-appointment of Victoria Owen as Chair of CLM for another term as well as the new appointment of Martyn Wade as the Chair of FAIFE.

We have also had busy months with elections for the President-elect, Governing Board members, the Professional Committee, Standing Committees and FAIFE and CLM committees. I congratulate Donna Scheeder, President-elect 2013 – 2015 and all of you who have been elected, and thank those who were unsuccessful this time for supporting IFLA through your candidacy. I know what a great responsibility it is to hold office within IFLA and what a rewarding experience it is personally and professionally. 

Tan Keat Fong

Tan Keat Fong

Before signing off, I want to wish Tan Keat Fong an active and fruitful retirement and welcome Ian Yap to the IFLA Regional Office. Keat Fong worked at the Singapore National Library Board for thirty-nine years, and as the Regional Manager at the IFLA Regional Office for Asia and Oceania since 2006, where we’ve very much enjoyed working with her on many projects, and during our preparations for the IFLA World Library and Information Congress 2013. My best wishes and thanks to Keat Fong for her years of dedication and enthusiasm for international relations.

This newsletter is just a snapshot of work going on across IFLA and around the world to advance the transformative role of libraries within our communities and society. We look forward to your continued participation and support this year and beyond. See you in Singapore at WLIC 2013!

Ingrid Parent
IFLA President 2011-2013

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The Letter of the President is distributed quarterly and provides an overview of some of the current activities of the IFLA President, President-Elect, the Governing Board and IFLA Headquarters staff. It is sent to IFLA-L and other mailing lists organised by IFLA.