As outlined in its Action Plans from 2019 the SIG Library History has embarked on what some might think are a very ambitious set of projects on the oral histories of our librarians past and present.  As the project develops a number of streams reveal themselves and those we can report activity on are:

  • Recording the oral histories of IFLA’s Past Presidents, Secretaries General and Personalities.  The goal of these three aspects is to get as many recordings as possible done for IFLA’s centenary in 2027 and through negotiation and support from IFLA the projects have now commenced.  And how fortunate the SIG is to have a convenor for each component, with the Section on Preservation and Conservation volunteering to look after the IFLA Presidents aspect; and SIG “Committee” members Peter Lor and Polly Boruff-Jones putting their hand up to convene the other two.    The IFLA personalities component is an interesting one and some IFLA colleagues have emailed me with suggestions.  If you have a suggestion then please email me so that I can check the list we have to see if they have been included.
  • Oral histories of library educators: what has been done and what needs to be done?  This project is in its infancy and progress will be reported as it happens.
  • Oral histories of librarians from around the world.  This is an aspect that I took on as I dream of having an IFLA Map of the World showing which countries have made and/or are making oral histories of their librarians.  After a post on the Library History e-list I did hear from some countries, but there remain many gaps.  So please get in touch with me if you have not already done so, if you have such collection/s in your country so that they can be recorded on the list that I am preparing.
  • In addition, the SIG is preparing its thoughts for possible session on librarian oral histories for the online IFLA 2021 conference, on which more soon.


Dr Kerry Smith, FALIA, AM

Convenor IFLA Library History SIG