NOTE: a version of this message was sent by the IFLA President on 10 October 2023 directly to all IFLA Members, including directors and presidents of library associations. It was also sent to all IFLA volunteers.

On 3 October 2023, the Secretary General and I advised the IFLA membership and community that the Emirates Library and Information Association had withdrawn their invitation to hold the 2024 World Library and Information Congress in Dubai.

As there were no viable options for WLIC 2024 and the limited time available, this decision means that there will not be a World Library and Information Congress (WLIC) in 2024.

I know that the opportunity for our Federation to come together every year is an important milestone for our members, committees, and volunteers. It enables us to share our expertise and knowledge, plan the work we will undertake together, and acknowledge our achievements. The absence of a WLIC will be felt by all.

The last couple of years have been challenging for IFLA and painful for many individuals. Each of us has our own views on what could have been done differently – these views will be important to consider as we move forward.

The IFLA Governing Board is determined to reflect and learn from the past. It is recognised that we need to do better for our Federation to truly be the global voice of libraries. To move forward, healing needs to be a priority.

As I said at the closing ceremony in Rotterdam, I am privileged to be working with a talented Governing Board that has rich diversity in experience in the library and information sector and within IFLA. In our first meeting, we committed to honest and authentic communication, engaging in rigorous and frank debate, actively seeking the perspectives of our members. We recognised that we need to build trust with our members and volunteers.

Review of WLIC model

At our second meeting, held on 5 October, we considered the context of no WLIC in 2024. We have affirmed our commitment to progress a review of the WLIC model. Our immediate priority is to explore options for 2025. As no bids were received in the open call earlier this year, we will adopt a targeted approach. Bids will be considered against a new set of criteria and objectives. President-elect Leslie Weir will lead this process. We need to get back on track to having a forward plan of our congresses – this provides certainty to our members and groups, but also supports our financial planning.

Simultaneously, we will progress a comprehensive review of the WLIC model. The Governing Board will task a Working Group, with Governing Board and stakeholder representation, to explore options. Terms of Reference for this working group will be considered at our December meeting and we will form the working group as an urgent action. The Review, to start in 2024, will include wider discussion and consultation with associations, the wider membership and volunteers.

Review of IFLA Strategy

The renewal of the IFLA Strategy provides an opportunity for all IFLA members and stakeholders to be involved in setting the priorities for IFLA. The new IFLA Strategy will provide the framework for our future work – for IFLA staff, our professional and regional committees, the advisory committees, and our advocacy work. In the coming weeks, consultation with members will commence through a series of pulse surveys. In 2024, we will provide further opportunities to the Federation to provide input feedback.

The Governing Board has a two-year term in which to rebuild our relationship with our members and stakeholders. Our December meeting in The Hague will provide our first opportunity to come together as a board to workshop our plans in detail and develop a detailed approach to achieving our ambitions.

As President, I am aware that my term will be judged by the legacy provided to the Federation and the incoming 2025-2027 Governing Board.

I seek your support in working with me and the Governing Board to help build a stronger and inclusive Federation. I encourage you to write to me at [email protected] with your feedback and views – these can then be considered as we move forward.

Vicki McDonald
IFLA President 2023-2025