Work to update IFLA’s structures in order to deliver on our Strategy and our wider goal to be a more inclusive, effective organisation is continuing. IFLA Secretary General Gerald Leitner has sent the following message, setting out progress and plans.

Dear All,

I am very pleased to share with you an update on the IFLA Governance Review.

As you know, we are undertaking this review to continue IFLA’s transformation and to help ensure IFLA is organised optimally to deliver on our ambitious 2019-2024 IFLA Strategy. You have already provided valuable input and so many good ideas at every step of the way. Thank you. But this work is not over.

When the Governing Board met in December, we were united in our understanding, and excitement, that we are in a unique position to create more opportunities for all IFLA members and volunteers to contribute to our work. Your engagement is essential to achieving the vision of a strong and united library field powering literate, informed and participatory societies. 

Each member left that meeting ready to work further on exploring solutions to challenges faced by the structures of the Governing Board, Professional Units, and Strategic Committees through focused working groups, guided by the following Key Principles:

  • IFLA’s Strategy marks a new start for our organisation
  • New times need new structures
  • There need to be new and varied opportunities to be involved
  • We need to widen participation across all world regions, and all career stages
  • We need structures that allow us to intensify support to our members and professional units
  • No decisions about you without you

The working groups have now submitted their proposals and our Steering Committee – comprised of the President, President-Elect, Professional Committee Chair, Parliamentarian, and Secretary General – has just finished three days of meetings here at IFLA HQ, carefully considering and aligning these ideas.

We are well on the way to finalising a single proposal that we’re looking forward to share with you. Emerging highlights include:

  • Clarity: at every level of governance, your feedback underlined how important it was for you as IFLA volunteers to understand how you can engage. We have found many opportunities to remove ambiguities.
  • The Right People for the Right Jobs: In every part of IFLA, we need structures that facilitate efficiency and effectiveness, and ways of ensuring that talented volunteers can best contribute through these. In the Governing Board in particular, we have identified ways to align roles clearly with governance needs, and to create opportunities to ensure a more diverse range  of members and experiences, including through covering more of the costs of serving on the Board. 
  • Representation: Diversity and representation were priority issues, not only in the composition of the Governing Board, but also in our wider membership and among members of our Professional Units. We have found multiple opportunities to improve our performance here.
  • Ambitious and Innovative, but Realistic: Our Standing Committees have bold ideas, and it has not always been easy to give them the support they deserve. We have therefore focused on new ways to reorganise our committees in a way that allows for more involvement and better communication and support from Headquarters.

No Decisions About You Without You!

The Governing Board is looking forward to sharing substantive details about the future governance of our Federation with all IFLA members and Professional Units. This information will come in May, after the Governing Board meeting at the end of April, with an invitation to share your views on how we’re doing in responding to the challenges and opportunities you’ve told us are most important, through a survey.

With your feedback we will be able to finalise a draft – and a set of relevant changes to the IFLA Statutes – for WLIC in Dublin. We will be asking for final approval from Members in a voting process which will start in September and be completed by mid-November.

In advance of this crucial vote, and in order to reflect our goal to be a truly inclusive organisation, we will also be asking you – our Members – for your views on a specific change to the IFLA Statutes so that the vote later this year is run in a way where every vote truly does count. Our current rules, by leaving final decisions only to those represented at our General Assembly, do not meet the standard of inclusiveness we want. You will receive further information on this next week.

As always, you do not need to wait for our survey to share your thoughts: I welcome your ideas at any time.

Kind regards,

Gerald Leitner
IFLA Secretary General

2 March 2020

See previous stories about IFLA’s Governance Review.