Ingrid ParentDear IFLA Colleagues,

Since my last newsletter in May, we’ve been active in regions around the world, representing libraries in many different forums, on the development agenda, and at major regional conferences. In August we met at the IFLA World Library and Information Congress in Helsinki. The Congress was a great success, according to all your feedback. I met many of you in person and heard about all the work across our working groups and sections that makes IFLA such a rich organization.




IFLA Volunteers gather before the beginning of WLIC 2012 in Helsinki; Photo by Pirjo Sallmen


The world’s library community meets in Helsinki

We welcomed over 4000 participants to the IFLA World Library and Information Congress 2012. It was the biggest IFLA event yet, with participants from 114 countries, including more than 1000 from our host nation, Finland. The National Committee, together with 271 volunteers, were wonderful hosts and made this such a successful event. Congratulations to everyone that took part including all of our officers, volunteers, and our Headquarters staff.

The Congress programme was so full and there is not enough space here to mention all of the highlights, but I would particularly like to congratulate all of the people we honoured in the closing ceremony who have done so much for IFLA and our profession. If you know of someone who should be honoured in 2013, the call for nominations is now open.

IFLA’s voice in the regions

Whether demonstrating the role of libraries in economic and social development globally, or supporting public libraries in Africa, IFLA’s voice has been strong across the world over the last few months. As well as so many forums where IFLA has been represented, I have had the opportunity most recently to travel to Beijing, Hong Kong and Taipei to meet with members and discuss key issues in their region.

Beyond Access conference held from October 1-3 in Washington DC; Photo by Andrea Beck

Beyond Access focuses on libraries and development

IFLA participated in the Beyond Access conference held from October 1-3 in Washington DC IFLA has been a partner in the Beyond Access Initiative since its inception at the end of 2011 – it aims to position libraries as agents for development, and draw the attention of policymakers, funders and the development community to the untapped potential of public libraries as partners for delivering development goals. Presenters, including USAID administrator Rajev Shah, and Ricardo Lagos, the 33rd President of Chile, discussed the potential of libraries and awarded prizes to innovative library projects.

SCECSAL and the African Public Libraries Summit 2012 strengthen African networks

The 20th Standing Conference of Eastern, Central and South Africa Library and Information Associations (SCECSAL) 2012 conference took place in Nairobi, Kenya in June. With so many leaders attending the conference, a workshop for Presidents of library associations based on the Building Strong Libraries Associations (BSLA) programme was held to share experiences including those of BSLA in Cameroon and in Botswana, and case studies from successful library associations in Nigeria, Ghana and South Africa. The workshop showed just how much growth and activity there is in associations across the continent.

 African Public Libraries Summit 2012; Photo by Andrew Howes

In September, the African Public Libraries Summit was the first ever continent-wide convening of public library leaders and policymakers. The summit was supported by the South African Government and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Under the theme, "Informing Africa, Developing Africa", delegates discussed the opportunities for creating successful, 21st century public libraries that contribute to the development priorities of African communities, countries and continent. By the end of the summit, thirty-four outcomes were reached, most important among them being the Resolution on the Establishment of an African Public Libraries Network.

Whilst in South Africa for the summit, I visited the IFLA Regional Office of Africa, hosted by the UNISA (University of South Africa) Library in Pretoria since 2007. This office plays a major strategic role for IFLA in disseminating information and raising IFLA’s profile in Africa, and I was delighted to renew our agreement with UNISA to host the IFLA Regional office for a further five years.

Crimea 2012 celebrates an 1800-year anniversary

The 2012 Crimea conference included presentations on how countries in the region can contribute to IFLA’s Key Initiatives, including our Copyright Exceptions and Limitations work. Russian participants outlined difficulties with copyright legislation in their country and the changes they want to see to better serve library users. During the conference, IFLA’s Genealogy and Local History Section hosted a special seminar “Silk Road 2012” celebrating the 1800th anniversary of the host city of the Crimea conference – the historic trading port of Sudak on the Black Sea.

AFLI strengthens networks across the region

Doha, Qatar hosted the 23rd Conference of the Arab Federation for Libraries and Information (AFLI), providing the opportunity to meet colleagues in the region to discuss a number of professional issues. There is great interest in membership and participation in IFLA in the region, and many colleagues are looking forward to the Congress in Singapore. During my visit, I had the opportunity to meet with Her Highness Sheikha Moza, and government officials to discuss the Qatar National Library project, and the importance of libraries in society.

Promoting access to information in the digital age

Work on Copyright Exceptions and Limitations continues at WIPO, and globally

In July and November, members of IFLA’s delegation to WIPO and members of the Copyright and Other Legal Matters (CLM) Committee were engaged in the 24th and 25th meetings of the World Intellectual Property Organisation’s Standing Committee on Copyright & Related Rights (SCCR). The focus during these meetings was on a proposed treaty for Visually Impaired Persons, which IFLA strongly supports. Conclusions and statements from the meetings are now available.

We continue to engage with organisations around the world on this topic, and in October I attended IFFRO’s AGM in Buenos Aires, Argentina, and also met with WIPO delegates in Santiago, Chile and Buenos Aires. At IFFRO I presented our perspective in a discussion on ‘Understanding User Needs and Delivering Solutions’ in terms of access, copyright and licences. In Santiago and Buenos Aires I met with government officials and colleagues to promote the views of libraries on copyright and access to information and the digital age. My video presentation discussing these issues with librarians at the Biblioteca Nacional de Argentina is now online.

IFLA represents libraries at the international level, but we also rely on national library associations to help prepare their national delegations for these discussions at gatherings such as WIPO or UNESCO, where issues affecting libraries are increasingly debated. I had the opportunity to emphasize this message in my home country, as a keynote speaker at the Canadian Library Association conference in Ottawa, in June.

Another opportunity to advance our work was the UNESCO Memory of the World in the Digital Age conference held in September in Vancouver, Canada. The outcome of the conference was the Vancouver Declaration, which in its preliminary form publicly endorses our work at WIPO. The Declaration will be revised with public consultation and put to the UNESCO Director General in 2013.

Digital Lending: Taking action

Models for accessing digital content in the future, including models for digital lending of eBooks were the subject of an expert meeting held at IFLA Headquarters on November 26-27. The meeting brought together representatives from libraries, associations, legal experts and publishers to discuss fast-moving changes in publishing, business models, licensing and access to content in libraries. We will now work through the results of the meeting to prepare our advocacy strategy and tools to assist members in their own advocacy and negotiations.

Progress on Open Access

With members of our Open Access taskforce, we presented workshops on Open Access in Geneva, in Rome at the UN Libraries meeting, and at the Berlin 10 conference held in Stellenbosch.

Internet Governance Forum

The 7th meeting of the Internet Governance Forum (IGF) took place in Baku, Azerbaijan on November 6-9, where IFLA participated in four workshops. The first meeting of the Dynamic Coalition on Public Libraries was held in association with EIFL, and a large number of contacts were made for future work on IFLA’s Key Initiatives.

Our Digital Futures: Presidential Meeting, Mexico City 2013

My second Presidential meeting “Our Digital Futures” will be held 6-7 March 2013 in Mexico City, and I extend a warm invitation to you to attend and hear inspiring speakers address current issues on access to information for libraries including access for research and education, to enhance reading, for the cultural memory, and copyright exceptions and limitations. Registration is now open.

Participants will also contribute to the development of the IFLA Trend Report on access in the global digital environment and information society that libraries will operate in over the next five years. The report will be launched at the IFLA World Library and Information Congress in Singapore, August 17-23 2013.

Governing IFLA

IFLA’s Governing Board, and committees including the Professional Committee, meets three times a year, and we look forward to meeting again next week at IFLA’s Headquarters in The Hague to discuss a number of strategic issues and to progress work on our five Key Initiatives.


We have now started the process for elections of new Section Standing Committee members, new Division Chairs, a new Governing Board, and, the next IFLA President-elect. I will complete my term in August 2013 and hand over to President-Elect Sinikka Sipila, who will become the new IFLA President. These elections are very important, so if you are an IFLA member, please consider nominating candidates or standing for election. The results of the elections will be announced in June next year.

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.