The IFLA Library and Research Services for Parliaments Section (IFLAPARL) has published a report of its 2021 survey on library & research services of parliaments response in the COVID-19 pandemic. The survey is a follow-up to the 2020 survey of pandemic impact and responses in parliamentary library and research services. The report shares the experiences of more than 50 respondents worldwide.

The report’s author, Iain Watt, Chair of IFLAPARL 2019-21, picks out ten features of a new environment based on his reading of the survey responses.

  1. Three-quarters of the services responding are working to a hybrid model, and almost half of services have decided to make it permanent or are considering it.
  2. There is an emergent new approach to onsite (library) services.
  3. In some cases, Members and selected parliamentary staff are meeting in person, while library/research service staff can only work at distance – asymmetric change.
  4. If anyone doubted before, mental health has definitely become a mainstream work issue and a management responsibility.
  5. There has been a rise in curatorial enterprise.
  6. There are ‘digital divides’, and they have been deepened by the pandemic.
  7. Enterprise has been shown in using ‘free’ online and remote service tools but could there eventually be some hidden costs and consequences?
  8. Interest in inter-parliamentary cooperation has grown.
  9. A health crisis is a crisis made for a service based on evidence. There have been some positive consequences for many parliamentary library & research services.
  10. Opinion on long-term consequences is divided: Conservatives, progressives and revolutionaries

“The impression from reading and analysing the responses is of a sector that is showing resilience and achieving quite some success in the face of a massively changed environment” Iain Watt.

The report will be presented as part of a session in the IFLAPARL-IPU conference on Wednesday – it is not too late to register!