THE HAGUE, Netherlands, 22 September 2020

In a first for IFLA, the 2021 World Library and Information Congress (WLIC) will be held online, as part of an accelerated drive to develop a new, more inclusive format for the most international event in the library calendar.

The COVID-19 pandemic has caused, and continues to cause, major disruption to societies and economies around the world.

Faced with this, libraries have shown extraordinary resilience and inventiveness in order to continue to serve users. IFLA is working to do the same, with enhanced online support to our Members and volunteers.

The pandemic also challenges us to think again about how we work, both individually and collectively, into the future.

This is particularly true in our planning for the World Library and Information Congress – the most international event in the library calendar. Faced with continued uncertainty about the health, economic and travel situation into 2021, it already seems clear that business-as-usual is not an option.

This is not, however, a reason to stop, but rather to accelerate our work to create a new model for our Congress, in line with the IFLA Strategy.

In doing so, we can also address the increasingly pressing issues of the carbon footprint associated with Congress participation, and the difficulty we know that many face in attending in person, even in normal times.

As a result, we are happy to announce that our 2021 Congress will take place virtually, with the welcome support of the Dutch National Committee.

The physical conference previously planned in Rotterdam, the Netherlands, will move to 2023, and take place in a hybrid online/in-person format. We continue to plan for an in-person conference in Dublin, Ireland in 2022, with a strengthened online element.

These are exciting times – we are building a new type of WLIC, following the same principles of transformation and inclusion that have shaped our Vision and Strategy, and are shaping our Governance Review.   

Our goal is to develop a programme and format that combines the best aspects of our traditional conferences with the possibilities that digital tools bring to include all members of our field, all around the world, meaningfully.

Achieving success will require the best of our creativity and experience. We look forward to working with Members, volunteers and participants to deliver this.

Gerald Leitner
IFLA Secretary General