NOTE: a version of this message was sent by the IFLA President on 17 May 2024 directly to all IFLA Members, including directors and presidents of library associations. It was also sent to all IFLA volunteers.

I am happy to be writing to you to with the latest update on all that is happening at IFLA, and specifically the work of our Governing Board. I would like to acknowledge the positive feedback on these monthly messages from many of our members and volunteers. Thank you for your comments. We are continuing to issue these updates in all IFLA languages, which I hope assists in updating you on key matters.

A key focus for me personally this year is ensuring that our Information Futures Summit in Brisbane in September and October is a success. The Summit website continues to be updated with programme information, details of READ Brisbane and Library Explorer Tours. Details about flights discounts have also been released. I strongly encourage you to register if you have not done so already, and to encourage others to do the same.

In the next month we will be seeing each other at IFLA’s hybrid General Assembly – on Thursday 20 June 2024. I will be joining online from Brisbane, and I am looking forward to sharing an overview of all that we were able to achieve together in 2023, and to celebrate this year’s Award winners.

Members were sent the official Convening Notice on 22 May, along with information on how to join the meeting and exercise their right to vote. We are also happy to invite members and volunteers to sessions where they can ask questions and seek clarifications; see our upcoming meetings page for details.

At the General Assembly, we will propose changes to our Statutes to address anomalies in the current version – and these are in response to concerns raised by our members and volunteers.

There are some key issues on the agenda upon which the Governing Board is seeking approval.

The first and most important is IFLA’s move to apply for charity status (or ANBI in Dutch). We are proposing changes to the statutes that will allow IFLA to do this, and, if approved by the membership, it will make it far easier for IFLA to work with a wider range of partners. In other words, having ANBI status would therefore mean that some organisations will prefer to work with us.

ANBI status will also mean stronger requirements around transparency – something that our Headquarters team will take on – but absolutely no changes to the rights and powers of members and volunteers. We will remain a federation of libraries and institutions, with members as our focus.

For more on this, see our briefing on the General Assembly and you can also view our Townhalls from last month where we discussed ANBI status and all that it means on our YouTube channel.

The other major decision at the General Assembly relates to our accounts for 2023, which were approved by the Governing Board at their meeting on 6 May 2024, following a positive audit.  Our Treasurer, Jaap Naber and I will talk more about this at the General Assembly. While the overall budget result is positive, the analysis highlights how much we depend on successful Congresses and the legacy funding from the Gates Foundation administered by Stichting IFLA Global Libraries (SIGL) to achieve a balanced result. I believe that this provides more evidence of the need to focus intensely on financial sustainability of our federation.

Unfortunately, we have not yet reached agreement with Stichting IFLA Global Libraries (SIGL) on a 2024 budget that covers all relevant costs for SIGL-related projects and commitments. SIGL’s approval for the 2023 budget was signed on 6 December 2023, after many months of discussions between IFLA and SIGL. The Governing Board, therefore advised SIGL at our joint meeting on the same day that we would not commence SIGL-funded 2024 projects until the full 2024 budget was agreed and signed with SIGL. This decision was made to mitigate risk of IFLA proceeding with projects that do not ultimately receive funding. At the time of our accounts being finalised for presentation to the General Assembly, IFLA and SIGL have not reached agreement on the 2024 budget.

Consequently, several IFLA projects have been delayed. I understand that this is frustrating for members and volunteers, but the Governing Board and I believe it is important to have our budget fully approved before expending funds. I am sharing this information with you as the Governing Board and I made a commitment for transparency with our members around the relationship with SIGL, and specifically IFLA’s finances.

I can assure you that the Governing Board is committed to achieving a positive and outcomes-focused relationship with SIGL. I look forward to being able to share advice on the 2024 budget once agreement is reached with SIGL.

The long-term financial solution for IFLA is a diversified funding base and this is a priority for the Governing Board. We are making good progress in getting IFLA into a more secure position. As part of this work, we have released data about who is funding library projects. This is a tool that shows what is possible through the IFLA-SIGL relationship, and which I hope will help members and volunteers in identifying potential partners.

We are advancing well on our ambitious review of the Congress model. There was a great response to the first pulse survey issued, and I’m looking forward to the first townhall session focused on this topic, with dates to be announced shortly on this page. Meanwhile, colleagues are this week visiting Astana, Kazakhstan, the potential candidate for WLIC 2025.

There is also positive progress on the development of our new Strategy. The Zero Draft agreed at the April 2024 meeting of the Governing Board is now available in all IFLA languages. I encourage you to register for one of the consultation sessions, and submit views via the survey on our website.

We are on course to launch a review of our wider governance structures next year, with the priority being our Congress review in 2024.

Finally, I know that across our volunteers, members and partners, there is significant work being progressed that underlines why we need a Federation like ours — from exciting events, guidelines and other materials, to practical advocacy for libraries at all levels.

I cannot close without a keen reminder to register as soon as you can for the Information Futures Summit. I hope you have seen the great video that we recently released:

I am looking forward to sharing more information to help you prepare and make the most of your participation.

Keep an eye on the Summit website for more!

Kind regards,

Vicki McDonald
IFLA President 2023-2025