Ellen R. Tise

2011: new policies, new actions

Dear Colleagues

One of the major achievements of 2010 was the formulation and implementation of the new IFLA Strategic Plan, which covers 2010-2015. With its new and appealing mission and vision statements it clearly supports the role of IFLA as the global voice of the library and information profession for the coming years. The plan contains a wealth of potential for starting new actions and activities and for consolidating and enhancing ongoing library issues. The professional units of IFLA, the Sections and Core Activities, added many valuable priority actions to the plan, to connect concrete action with policy.

To better enable libraries and librarians to drive access to knowledge, IFLA will develop for 2011-2012 five key major key initiatives:

  • a programme for the promotion of access to (digital) content for library users;
  • a programme for IFLA International Librarianship Leadership Development;
  • an outreach programme for advocacy and development of the profession;
  • stronger investment in cultural heritage disaster reconstruction;
  • and furthering the inclusion of multilingualism in the IFLA organisation

These programmes are partially based on already existing activities and will lead to valuable initiatives that connect strategies, ideas, and partnerships throughout the whole IFLA community. They also connect the activities we undertake with our stakeholders and strategic partners from the international cultural, scientific and political arena. I hope this inspires you to take up another year of full swing IFLA activity.

IFLA Presidential Meeting 2011

An interesting upcoming event to which I would like to draw your attention is the IFLA Presidential Meeting 2011 that will be held from 14-15 April in the National Library of The Netherlands. This meeting is co-organised by FOBID, the Netherlands Library Forum. Under the theme Libraries driving access to knowledge: Action for Europe, this conference will have prominent and inspiring speakers to address current issues for libraries: copyright, open access and human rights.

Europe's libraries are the driving force behind the knowledge society. They provide access to the information that underpins the continent's creativity and economic growth. Libraries are unique spaces for sharing, learning, and research for all members of society, regardless of their knowledge needs. The digital environment offers libraries many opportunities, and library services are adapting to take advantage of this situation. New forms of access, new attitudes to information sharing, and a complex European legislative framework require clear policies to help libraries fulfill their objectives. IFLA is the premier organisation representing libraries at a global level, and it is to IFLA that the library community across Europe, and the world, looks for leadership on the important issues facing libraries in the digital age.

An interesting two day programme of presentations and panel discussions is offered, and with this conference we hope to establish a platform for an open and informative dialogue with representatives of the European Commission and the European Parliament. Also included on the agenda is a special event for LIS students. Please visit the website for more information and I hope to see many of you again in April. For my African colleagues I plan to organise a parallel conference that will be held on 7-8 April 2011 in Pretoria, South Africa, with specific focus on the African region.

IFLA’s Regional Sections

With all this focus on Europe it is important to stress that IFLA’s membership is global. It is the aim of Governing Board to also sustain and enlarge IFLA’s membership in other parts of the world. Therefore my travel scheme for the first quarter of this year was comprised of the mid-term meetings of the Regional Sections. In February I attended the Africa Section Meeting in Cameroon and the Asia Oceania Section Meeting in Hong Kong. Later on this year the Latin America Section Meeting is on the agenda as well. The meetings of the regional sections are all flavored with energy, positive cooperation and borderless international networking, where at the same time each meeting has its own distinct regional flavour. It is very inspiring to see how IFLA lives all over the globe and to see how cooperation with stakeholders flourishes through the regional activities.

IFLA Elections 2011

I would like to add a brief notification to the recent nominations for IFLA Governing Board, IFLA’s President-elect and IFLA’s Standing Committees, that took place in February. It is great to see that many new names have come up during these nominations, and that there is a strong interest for IFLA from all over the globe. I am sure that after the election postal ballot in March/April we will welcome again a new group of active IFLA committee members with much élan and enthusiasm.

IFLA 2011 – Puerto Rico

The Annual Conference is something else to look forward to this year. Registration is open for the 77th World Library and Information Congress. The conference will be held on 13-18 August 2011 in San Juan, Puerto Rico. The 2011 Congress theme is Libraries beyond libraries: Integration, Innovation and Information for all.

IFLA Puerto Rico 2011

The Congress is your opportunity to help set the international agenda for the profession and offers opportunities for networking and professional development, with thousands of international professionals from the library and information services sector. You can register for the Congress online. Special bus transport services will operate for delegates between the congress hotels each day from early to mid morning, and then late afternoon/early evening for delegates.


When looking back at 2010, we remember that 2010 was the year of the devastating earthquake in Haiti, where more than 220,000 Haitians were killed and thousands more injured; up to 1.6 million were displaced and settled across 1300 makeshift camps throughout the country. Some 500,000 have fled Port-au-Prince. IFLA has helped in efforts to distribute emergency relief to libraries and archives–and to the individuals who make them possible–in earthquake struck Haiti. In 2011 we will continue our collaboration with a number of NGOs and Intergovernmental organizations that are aiding in efforts to safeguard the country’s cultural heritage, rebuild its infrastructure, and most importantly reach out to its people. IFLA is currently working with the Prince Claus Fund (Netherlands) and others to set up a treatment centre where damaged archive and library materials can be cleaned, preserved, catalogued and if necessary digitized. Co-funding will be sought to have the centre staffed with volunteers and to set up training facilities for Haitian librarians and archivists. At its meeting in December 2010, the Stichting IFLA Foundation (SIF) decided to sponsor two projects on recovery activities in Haiti:

  1. A limited number of modern mobile libraries would be capable of re-instating a large part of the necessary post-disaster library services. Therefore, SIF will co-finance the first of these mobile libraries. Matching funds are to be raised in a campaign aimed at libraries and library organisations in Nordic and other European countries.
  2. A one-week training seminar for emergency treatment of documents (dust, mould, small repairs) following a natural disaster will be organised, following a proposal on behalf of IFLA’s Preservation and Conservation Section.

For a summary of all activities that were undertaken in 2010 please refer to the dedicated Haiti pages.

Hopes and fears

Our thoughts are with all librarians in those countries in the Northern part of Africa that are experiencing the winds of change towards more open and inclusive societies. We hope the future political developments will have a positive result, both in their private lives and in their professional lives.

Our thoughts are also with the people that suffered from the recent floods in Australia and the earthquake in New Zealand. We are saddened by the news of the people who have lost their lives and the images of the enormous damage done to houses, buildings, and cities. On behalf of the IFLA Governing Board and the international IFLA Community we express our sympathy. We are thinking of you and if need be, the IFLA community stands willing to offer help. Our thoughts are with you and your families and colleagues. We wish you much strength in sustaining in this situation.

Ellen Tise
IFLA President 2009-2011 


The Letter of the President is distributed periodically 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. The newsletter is sent in plain-text format and so should cause no reception problems.