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

Happy New Year to you all! I hope that all of you who were celebrating had the opportunity to rest and re-energise, and wish everyone involved in IFLA an exciting, rewarding and positive 2024.

Near the end of last year, I shared a message to mark 100 days since I and my colleagues on the Governing Board took up our mandates. I was proud to be able to talk about what we have already achieved against the goals I set out back in Rotterdam, but also conscious of the work still to come.

Now we are at the start of 2024, I wanted to share more about what you can expect from IFLA this year, and how this will bring us closer to where we want to be.

The first major area of focus for me was optimising how we work together as a Federation, in particular in the way the Governing Board operates and connects with our members and volunteers.

In 2024, we will be stepping up a gear in our communication with members and volunteers, and are developing a schedule of virtual “meet the GB” sessions across the year where we can explain our work, and respond to your questions. I will also be making sure to reach out to all of you regularly so that you know what your Federation is doing for you.

How we do our physical meetings in future is going to be a major focus. I am particularly excited about the meeting we will be holding in Australia from 29 September to 2 October this year, and am looking forward to sharing more about this in the coming days.

Yet we are also looking beyond, and will be calling on you to help us develop the model for our World Library and Information Congresses in the years to come. Look out for more, and meanwhile, do not forget our 31 January deadline for candidates for our 2025 Congress!

Later on this year, we will also start our preparations for our 2025 nominations and elections cycle, looking to learn lessons from experience, and enhance our efforts to ensure that our structures reflect the full expertise , diversity and energy of our field. We will also be gathering feedback on our governance structures with a view to informing any future proposals for change, as well as continuing our work to support regional and national library fields. I am particularly happy that we have now officially launched our Regional Office for the Middle East and North Africa, alongside those for Asia-Oceania, Sub-Saharan Africa, and Latin America and the Caribbean.

A key output this year will be our new Strategy. We’ve just launched the next phase of consultations with you on this, in order to check if the Governing Board has got its priorities right, before preparing a draft for your inputs in April. I’m looking forward to joining a series of townhall meetings with you to hear what you want and need from this.

Beyond this, we will continue to support and celebrate our volunteer units as essential spaces for bringing together ideas and experience, and generating both insights and tools to support the field, and will be looking to share key knowledge and skills in order to maximise libraries’ positive impacts on the communities we serve.

The second major area of focus is on working together with our partners and stakeholders, as an essential step both in increasing the impact of what we are doing, as well as building our long-term sustainability.

A priority for me is to ensure that our partnership with Stichting IFLA Global Libraries delivers on its promise to strengthen our field. This is a unique relationship, but one that should enable us to move up a gear both in the way libraries serve communities, and work with governments, funders and others in order to make change happen. IFLA will also be making sure it delivers on other projects, in particular in the area of copyright and media literacy, notably supported by the Arcadia Fund.

I am also excited to share the results of work we have commissioned to understand the landscape of partnerships for library work internationally, and to start building strategies at global and regional levels to ensure that potential funders across a wide range of policy areas see libraries as essential partners. To support this, we are looking hard at what needs to change within IFLA itself to ensure that we are ready and able not only to secure support at all levels.

Our work to advocate for libraries more broadly continues, and I hope that more and more of you will become engaged in this, working through your own networks and contacts to secure good outcomes for libraries at the international level. Across the sustainable development, digital, and climate action agendas, there is much to do, especially with the UN’s Summit of the Future in September.

A key tool in our work with partners, I believe, will be our Trend Report 2024, which will focus on the factors and forces shaping the future of information. Work is already underway, and I am placing a priority on making our members and volunteers part of this, but it will also be a chance to cross perspectives and ideas with colleagues and friends from other sectors, learn from each other, and build connections.

In closing, it is always useful to think yourself into the future, and describe the success you want to see. For me, jumping ahead to 31 December 2024, it is that IFLA’s members and volunteers around the world feel better informed and engaged in our work than ever, and that we have secured a stronger reputation amongst more partners internationally as an able and effective player in achieving sustainable development.

To achieve this, it will need to be a busy year. I hope you are ready to work together with me and the Governing Board to achieve it.

Vicki McDonald
IFLA President 2023-2025