IFLA Governing Board 2019-2021

Drawing on contributions from a survey of members and consultations with Professional Units, IFLA’s Governing Board made important progress towards updating IFLA’s structures in order to provide new opportunities for IFLA’s members to engage in its work.

With the launch of IFLA’s Strategy 2019-24, the Federation has a new focus in the substance of its work. The Governance Review is the next key step in our transformation, aiming to create the structures necessary to deliver on our ambitions.

In particular, there is a clear need to create more opportunities for all IFLA members and volunteers to participate in our work. Their engagement will be essential to achieving the vision of a strong and united library field powering literate, informed and participatory societies.

The Governance Review is therefore strongly focused on updating the structures and processes by which IFLA operates, in order to improve efficiency, effectiveness and participation.  

On 10-11 December 2019, IFLA’s Governing Board held a workshop in The Hague in order to advance the process. Benefitting from the response of members to a survey in October 2019, consultations with key stakeholders, and the experience of Board members, the two days of intense discussions brought new clarity about priorities and options for reform.

Over the coming months, Board members will refine ideas further, and then hold a further survey of Members in March 2020. Contributions from IFLA’s professional units and others are of course welcome at any time.

Closing the week, the Governing Board underlined that the Governance Review, as it continues, would be characterised by the following principles:

Creating Opportunities for Engagement: Developing New Structures for IFLA

Key Principles in the IFLA Governance Review

IFLA’s Strategy Marks a New Start for our Organisation: IFLA’s Strategy 2019-24 is the basis of a new phase in the development of IFLA, and of the global library field as a whole. Building on an unprecedented engagement through the Global Vision, we have a document that truly represents the priorities and interests of library and information workers around the world. It is not only a guiding star for our organisation, but also a key reference for anyone focused on building a strong and united library field.

New Times Need New Structures: the focus on inclusion that was at the heart of the Global Vision process was not a one-off, but rather has become a core characteristic of the new IFLA. Yet as the survey of our members has shown, we need structures that make IFLA more open and more engaging. In parallel, we want to make our current governance more efficient, more effective and more transparent so that it makes sense for all of our members.

There Need to be New and Varied Opportunities to Be Involved: we need to offer many different ways for you to contribute to achieving IFLA’s goals. We need to provide flexible opportunities for engagement so that everyone can find something that works for them. In doing so, we want to be sure that our structures allow for those who contribute for the benefit of our field to be properly recognised for their work.

We Need to Widen Participation across All World Regions, and All Career Stages: a particular finding of our survey is that for IFLA to realise its potential as the truly global library organisation, we need to work on the representation and engagement of library and information workers of all ages, around the world. This question is at the heart of our discussions about how all parts of IFLA will work in future.

We Need Structures that Allow Us to Intensify Support to Our Members and Professional Units: IFLA’s strength lies in its members and volunteers who give up their time both to exchange ideas and evidence, prepare documents, and share the benefits of being part of IFLA more widely. The new Strategy recognises this role, and both this – and the governance review – will look to enhance the level of support that IFLA offers to them.

No Decisions About You Without You: the spirit of inclusion and consultation that marks the organisation we are trying to build is also at work in the discussions about IFLA’s structures. We believe that we can only succeed in this by engaging you from the beginning. Your Governing Board Members are there at all points of the process to listen to your priorities. Through our survey of members in October 2019, and a further consultation in March 2020, you can share your views directly. On the basis of this feedback, we will prepare a draft of any necessary amendments to IFLA’s Statues. Once this is ready, we will be asking all of our members, through a postal and online ballot, for your agreement. 

Gerald Leitner

Secretary General

16 December 2019