The IFLA/ UNESCO Public Library Manifesto identifies the public library as being central to freedom and equity of access to knowledge and information for all people.

Since it was agreed in 1994, it has proclaimed UNESCO’s belief in the public library as a living force for education, culture and information, and as an essential agent for the fostering of peace and spiritual welfare through the minds of men and women.

In order to ensure this Manifesto stays relevant for the global library field, governments and others, the IFLA Public Libraries Section has set out to review the Manifesto in 2020. This process will identify areas that can be updated to ensure the document reflects the missions of public libraries today.

The important first step was to hear from the global library field.

And hear from the field we did!

A survey collecting feedback and suggestions on the usability and effectiveness of the Manifesto was circulated earlier this year. Thanks to the translation work of the Public Library Section and IFLA Translation Centres, we were able to offer the survey in 14 languages.

Following the closing of the survey on 31 May, we are happy to announce that we have received over 750 responses from librarians around the world!

The Results

Librarians have shared stories of using the Manifesto to advocate for improvements in their libraries, to show elected officials and budget-holders the importance of funding public libraries, to defend free access and resist censorship, to cite in research, to develop more impactful library activities for users, and much more.

Some suggestions for ways that the Manifesto can be improved to reflect the mission of public libraries today include:

  • Consider the role of libraries in today’s information society  
  • Reinforce the principle of inclusion
  • Include the role of the library in addressing local needs and access to local culture, as well as collecting and preserving local archives  
  • Focus more on learning and creativity at all ages

Next steps

The Public Library Manifesto, together with IFLA Headquarters and our UNESCO partners, will further analyse the results of this survey. This will form the basis for outlining the updates to the Manifesto.

Stay tuned for more information concerning the update to the Manifesto in the coming months.