While we have been fortunate to be able to put the restrictions associated with the COVID-19 Pandemic behind us, not all is the same as before. IFLA’s Regional Council, which brings together representatives of each world region, has produced a new report which looks in particular at how the way governments, communities and libraries themselves saw libraries before the Pandemic and now.

A key role of IFLA’s Regional Council is to bring together and share the perspectives and voices of libraries in different parts of the world. This enables building an  understanding of global common factors and differences. It also has an important part to play in IFLA’s advocacy work, which focuses on how to shape perceptions of libraries as a means of securing support and partnerships.

This report brings together these two aspects, exploring how perceptions of libraries – among governments, communities, and libraries themselves – have evolved over the period since the COVID-19 pandemic. It is based on a paper presented and discussed at the Council’s March 2024 meeting, which in turn drew together the results of a short questionnaire shared among IFLA’s Regional Division Committees. Their answers, converted into text format where necessary, are in annex.

In terms of high-level messages, the report underlines that often the biggest differences are within regions, rather than between them. In every part of the world, it is clear that it is possible for governments to develop a new appreciation of libraries as centres for digital inclusion, education and more. Similarly, in each region, there are communities that discovered a new side to libraries as places not just for reading, but also for learning and connecting.

Finally, the report confirms a point already hinted at in previous IFLA works, that the pandemic saw many librarians make peace with technology, and see themselves not just as digital actors but also as innovators and key partners for development. This report contains a summary, and then longer responses per region, including references to which countries contributed responses.

Access the report on our repository.