5 August 2010

IFLA Presidential Newsletter No. 3 August 2010

Ellen R. TiseDear Colleagues

Just a few days before the 76th edition of our World Library and Information Congress will start, I would like to take you along some of the highlights of the first half year of 2010.

The most impressive experience was undoubtedly the visit to Haiti that I made in June, together with IFLA's President-elect Ingrid Parent. On the 23rd of June, in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, I was invited by the Haitian Ministry of Culture at the signature of the agreement for the project "Ark", a rescue center for documents damaged by the devastating earthquake of January 12th, 2010. Co-signers of this agreement were the Ministry of Culture of Haiti, the International Blue Shield Committee (ICBS) and the recently funded Haitian National Committee of the Blue Shield. The agreement calls for the creation of a center for the rescue and treatment of books and archival material, as well as the establishment of an archive to preserve Haitian heritage for future generations. This processing center is set up for two years. It will welcome Haitian and foreign volunteers for the restoration of cultural works.

Ellen Tise, Mme. Marie Laurence Jocelyn Lassegue, & Francoise B. Thybulle

Signing of the Ark agreement with Mme Marie Laurence Jocelyn Lassegue-Haitian Minister Of Culture & Communication, and Francoise B. Thybulle-Director of the National Library of Haiti (Photo: FOKAL)

Here I would like to stress again the will of IFLA to support the Haitian libraries to repair the damage that they have suffered. With the Ark project we hope to strengthen local capacities for the conservation of Haiti's cultural heritage and to ensure the sustainability of the project. IFLA is extremely grateful to our Governing Board member Danielle Mincio, for all the efforts she undertook and still undertakes in concrete actions in Haiti, on behalf of IFLA.

It was impressive to see how much still needs to be done in the damaged city of Port au Prince. At the same time it was heartwarming to meet with Françoise Thybulle, the National Librarian and Elizabeth Pierre-Louis, Director of FOKAL, and to experience their empowering will to enter a new future - a future in which libraries will play an important role. I am very happy that the Stichting IFLA provided a grant for our Haitian colleagues to attend this year's IFLA Congress in Gothenburg. And I am very pleased to announce here the special update session on Haiti that is scheduled for Friday 13 August, 13.45-15.45 (Session 115) in the Congressen Hall. Detailed information on libraries in Haiti can be found on IFLA's  Haiti earthquake update webpage.

From Haiti we directly flew to Washington to attend the ALA Conference. This provided a good opportunity to catch up with American colleagues. In Washington we also continued the work on Haiti, in a meeting with representatives of the Smithsonian Institute that is also planning recovery activities in Haiti in the years to come. At the same time, in Washington, the Partner Meeting of the World Digital Library took place at the Library of Congress.

 UNESCO website

In May 2010 I signed the World Digital Library Charter on behalf of IFLA. As one of the founding organisations IFLA supports the World Digital Library project since the beginning. The signing of the Charter underlines the continuation of IFLA's support, not only in providing an international network of experts but also in advising on standardization issues. Please visit the World Digital Library website for more information.

Since January this year, a dedicated working group of the Governing Board has been busy drafting and developing the new IFLA Strategic Plan. This sets out our strategic directions and goals for 2010-2015. Where all professional groups of IFLA remain responsible for their own strategic planning, the Strategic Plan 2010-2015 is to guide the governance and the entire activities of the IFLA organisation, based on the following four Strategic Directions: Empowering libraries to enable their user communities to have equitable access to information; Building the strategic capacity of IFLA and that of its members; Transforming the profile and standing of the profession; Representing the interests of IFLA's members and their users throughout the world.

At its May meeting the Governing Board endorsed the Strategic Plan and during the Congress in Gothenburg the IFLA Sections and Core Activities will all discuss the plan at their business meetings. This will start the process to identify possible actions to be picked up by each professional unit, and to connect the action plans of the professional groups with the overall Strategic Plan. This way we hope that the strategic planning cycle of IFLA will become an integrated whole of the IFLA organisation. I am confident that the Strategic Plan for 2010-2015 will provide IFLA with solid guidance for an innovative future.

One of the first actions to prepare IFLA for an innovative future started earlier this year, with the activities of the Governing Board's Conference Advisory Committee. This Committee, chaired by Patrice Landry, the Chair of the Professional Committee, performed a conference review project and started with the development of a new format for the organisation of the conference, in which the conference will be primarily managed by IFLA itself.

As a result of this conference developing project, interviews will take place in Gothenburg with a selection of possible new conference organizers (PCOs). In the meantime several organisations also responded on the call for hosting the Congress in 2013. The result of these bids, the selection of the venue, will be announced in 2011.

Step by step, the IFLA congress will get a more innovative character. The first steps have already been made. Five thematic threads - indicated with colours - now support the professional programme during the congress. This makes it easier for delegates to follow certain topics during the week.

No doubt you also have picked up one of the various news items on Facebook, Twitter or IFLA-L, that announced the use of social media to provide conference news at this year's Congress. 2010 will be considered a trial year and as in every process of innovation, it will be elaborated gradually. Later this year, the Governing Board has scheduled an evaluation of the use of social media at the Congress. This will enable us to include the experiences of the participants in improving, extending and stabilizing this new development in the near future.

A last example of innovation at our Congress is the rescheduling of business meetings and official events, in order to be able to better connect and facilitate the attendance of representatives of our strategic partners. I expect that this year's Congress will provide a solid programme to strengthen the strategic relationships with partner organisations from other cultural heritage sectors, from the publishers sector and from the scientific world.

We are all very busy preparing the last minute issues for the conference. We are all getting ready for travel. I am sure with all the efforts that have been made, by the Swedish National Committee, by IFLA staff at Headquarters, and not in the last place by all Professional Groups, we are heading towards yet another great conference. I look forward to meeting many of you again in Gothenburg, Sweden.

For those IFLA members who won't be able to join us in Gothenburg, please visit our special conference website regularly. On this website we will provide conference news as it happens: with an electronic newsletter, providing latest news and interviews, with blogs, tweets and photo's, created by congress participants and by some streaming video as well. IFLA 2010 promises to be a great, enriching and uniting experience.

Ellen Tise
IFLA President 2009-2011

5 August 2010


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