IFLA’s Regional Division Committee for Latin America and the Caribbean has been active in supporting the Ecuadorian librarians’ association in fighting back against a proposal to close down library degree programmes in the country.

Libraries often need to face and challenge assumptions and stereotypes about what we do and why it matters, including from politicians who may not have used a library in decades.

These assumptions can be particularly dangerous when they are held by the people who take crucial decisions about our field.

This is what was threatened in Ecuador, where the Secretary of State for Higher Education, Science, Research and Innovation claimed last year that there was no need to teach library and information science any more, and so that relevant degree programmes could be closed.

The Ecuadorian National Librarians’ Association “Eugenio Espejo” reacted quickly, preparing a formal response, developing messaging, and mobilising their membership under the slogan “#SiALaBibliotecologia” (#YesToLibrarianship).

In order to increase the impact of their efforts, they reached out to other IFLA members – associations and institutions – across the region, including the Regional Division Committee for Latin America and the Caribbean.

Colleagues internationally, including the Chair and Vice-Chair of the Committee, Alejandro Lorenzo César Santa and Georgina Araceli Torres Vargas, responded, sending letters, amplifying messages on social media, and sharing advice and ideas.

Faced with such a strong reaction, the government of Ecuador invited the Association to a meeting, where they came to new agreements around professionalisation and promotion of librarianship, and to launch discussions about how to open up new training places in institutes of technology.

Being an IFLA member, and so belonging fully to an international organisation and network, added weight to the claims of the Ecuadorian Association in their work with the government, as well as energising the local team.

With advocacy like this an important part of IFLA’s missions, globally and regionally, this is a great example of the value for associations and institution alike to be part of our global Federation.