NOTE: a version of this message was sent by the IFLA President on 19 April 2024 directly to all IFLA Members, including directors and presidents of library associations. It was also sent to all IFLA volunteers.

I’m happy to be writing to you, just a day after the IFLA Governing Board’s first in-person meeting of the year has come to an end! It was great to see colleagues together in The Hague for a really positive and productive meeting – the three days flew by, but I believe that we are making excellent progress against the commitments set out in August of last year.

In addition to celebrating key achievements over the past four months (see the presentation here), key highlights are below:

Securing financial sustainability

  • We commenced work towards a sustainability strategy for IFLA, with workshops exploring longer term financial trends and drivers for change. We examined IFLA’s income streams and discussed different possibilities for ensuring that IFLA can continue to support the global library field long into the future. This is a complex but essential issue, and the work will continue over the year. At our next meeting we will discuss the results of work commissioned to document the landscape for library partnerships.
  • We reviewed IFLA’s accounts for 2023, and met with IFLA’s independent auditor to hear his initial, positive, assessment. The results of the audit will be shared – alongside the accounts and our annual report – with members prior to our General Assembly in June. We also agreed to establish a quarterly review process for IFLA’s budget, and took time to continue discussion of our work with Stichting IFLA Global Libraries.
  • A key enabler of partnerships will be our move to secure ANBI (Dutch charity status). Those who joined one of our Townhall meetings will know that ANBI status opens up new possibilities to work with others, as well as providing for greater transparency. The move is dependent on our Members’ agreement to update our Statutes in order to comply with relevant Dutch laws. At the Governing Board meeting we agreed on the texts of these amendments, and we’re looking forward to sharing these with members. We will also publish a briefing and organise question and answer sessions to explain the proposal and take questions.

Future Congresses and meetings

  • The first pulse survey as part of the review of our Congress model has been issued, and I encourage members and volunteers to respond, as well as to look out for upcoming consultations! We received a progress report from our President-elect, Leslie Weir, who is leading this important work.
  • We also received an update on the preparation for the Information Futures Summit! On a personal note, I am very much looking forward to welcoming colleagues to Brisbane in September, and proud to share our programme.
  • We received one bid that met the new criteria for the World Library and Information Congress 2025, from Astana, Kazakhstan. The Governing Board reviewed the bid and agreed to proceed to the next stage, with a site visit scheduled for May.

Developing a new Strategy

  • We discussed a zero draft of the new 2024-2029 Strategy, which responds to the inputs and priorities of members and volunteers identified through five surveys. We are now finalising the draft and will share it for comments and overall views in the coming weeks. I am confident that it represents a strong step forward in helping to shape and orientate our work into the future.

Working better as a Governing Board, and with our Members and volunteers

  • One of our priorities is how we share information about Governing Board meetings celebrated the positive feedback for our Townhalls, with the slides available here.
  • We also committed to further work around evolving our governance, including a review next year on  the impacts of our 2021 Governance Review. Handbooks updates recommended by the Professional Council were approved and in December we look forward to approving the updated  Code of Conduct for volunteers.
  • We held the first in a series of conversations with Advisory Committee chairs, starting with Melissa Levine, Chair of the Copyright and other Legal Matters (CLM) Advisory Committee. In the discussion we explored the strategic relevance of copyright for libraries globally, as well as questions around capacity building and ensuring diversity on committees. There were also welcome reports on the work of our Professional Council, Regional Council and Management of Library Associations Section.
  • The Secretary General provided an update on the new organisation structure for the IFLA team, and we were very pleased that a programme of training opportunities is being implemented.
  • Elections are on the horizon and we discussed ways to make the process as inclusive and engaging as possible –a timeline for the elections will be agreed at our next meeting.
  • We welcomed our Parliamentarian, Martyn Wade, to his first in-person meeting. His attendance was particularly useful for our discussions on Statutes and governance.

Celebrating successes, and looking to the future

  • We agreed a new statement on universal access to health information, prepared by the Evidence for Global and Disaster Health Special Interest Group, working with the Health and Biosciences Libraries Section. We look forward to publishing this statement shortly. You can access the presentation to the Governing Board here.

Also looking to the future, we kick-started work at the Governing Board level on IFLA100 – our centenary – which we will celebrate in 2027. Louis Takács provided inspiration for the planning discussion by sharing IFLA’s history, based on materials in our archive.

Finally, I wanted to look ahead to the coming months, and opportunities for engagement, look out for the following:

  • In April, we will open the survey for the IFLA Strategy, as well as a survey on climate empowerment activities by associations. We have already seen hundreds of responses to the WLIC Review pulse survey, but you still have time to respond!
  • In May, we will hold consultations about the IFLA Strategy, as well as briefings on our move to charity status, and a pulse survey on the 2024 Trend Report.
  • In June, as well as our General Assembly, there will be a consultation on our WLIC review, and more opportunities to feed in around the Trend Report.

In conclusion, it was a very successful meeting. There was good discussion and debate on key work being progressed, as well as workshops exploring our future opportunities. I acknowledge the work of the IFLA team, led by Secretary General Sharon Memis, in preparing the briefing papers for our discussions across the three days of the meeting. My thanks also to Governing Board colleagues for the commitment and enthusiasm for progressing our work.

I look forward to sharing more information with our membership and volunteers in the coming months on many of the activities I have outlined above.

Kind regards,

Vicki McDonald
IFLA President 2023-2025