Following the recent publication of a series of key IFLA standards by the IFLA Chinese Language Centre, we’re happy to share a conversation between the Centre coordinator and Victoria Owen, Chair of the IFLA Advisory Committee on Standards, to understand more about the impact of translated IFLA materials.

The Advisory Committee on Standards (CoS) coordinates IFLA’s work to develop and maintain professional standards and guidelines for information professionals across the globe, and provides advice to the Governing Board.

As the central hub for IFLA’s work on standards and professional practice guidelines, the COS manages their development, revision, and publication, working closely with IFLA’s committees.

The COS also aims to raise the visibility of IFLA standards within and beyond IFLA’s membership by providing document maintenance, storage and open access. It liaises with external standards-issuing bodies such as ISO, CEN and the ISBN International Board.

The mission of the IFLA’s Language Centres is to contribute to more effective communication within their language communities and with any involved IFLA bodies. These activities include the publication and/or translation of key IFLA documents, such as IFLA Standards, press releases, statements, and news releases and selected papers prepared for IFLA’s World Library and Information Congress.

To make clearer this connection, the Chair of the Advisory Committee on Standards interviewed Jinmin Hao, the coordinator of the IFLA Chinese Language Centre, located in the National Library of China.

1. The Language Center is housed in the beautiful National Library of China, located in Beijing.  How long has the language centre been located in the National Library?

Based on the mutual agreement between IFLA HQ and the National Library of China, the Chinese Language Center was set up in the National Library of China in 2009. It has a history of 15 years.

2. We’ve just received several IFLA standards, translated into Chinese by the Language Centre. Approximately how many IFLA materials are translated into Chinese each year?

According to the agreement between IFLA HQ and the National Library of China, five categories of activities are performed and No. 4 is to contribute to more effective communication within the Chinese language community and with the IFLA bodies involved. These activities include the publication of newsletters and translations of IFLA key documents and publications.

In the past years, we have had close contact with colleagues from IFLA HQ, to complete the translation of requested materials, for example, IFLA News, strategies and questionnaires, trend reports, etc. It is hard to give a number for the translated materials.

In 2023, the Chinese Language Center began cooperating with the Library Society of China, to launch a translation and publishing project. That is to choose certain subjects of IFLA Guidelines, which we believe are needed most by the local community and to translate these into Chinese for publication. In the first book, five guidelines are included. I have to say, it is an ongoing project, and we would like to work together with IFLA HQ and Committee on Standards on this.

3. Once translated, how are the standards used by Chinese-language librarians and information professionals and what is the impact of these materials on the Chinese-speaking library and information field?

Before starting this project, we saw that there was a gap, or language barrier between IFLA standards and the local community. Our team has a wide range of members. Some of them are from the Chinese Language Center, some of them are Chinese librarians who are members or used to be members of IFLA-relevant bodies, some of them are professionals of certain expertise in the library field, some of them are professors of LIS education and some of them are from colleagues from the National Library of China and Library Society of China. They got deeply involved in the translation and proofreading in order to guarantee the quality of the translation.

I believe that this project will help bridge the gap, or language barrier, and help make IFLA more visible in the Chinese language community. It will also be a reference for librarians to carry out projects and will be a source of materials for LIS students.

4. What feedback do you receive from librarians and information professionals who have used the translated IFLA standards materials?

The first book was published in December 2023, and I noticed that there was some discussion in the library field about this book. There are mainly two kinds of feedback – one is that it makes IFLA standards easily accessible; the other is that more standards of IFLA should be included in this project.

I would like to add that when we work on this project, we should consider the feedback from the community, but we shall not only consider the feedback. As we believe it is a meaningful project, we should carry on.

5. What does IFLA mean to information professionals working practically in China?

As we all know, IFLA is the global voice of libraries, representing the interests of the profession and working to improve services worldwide.

Besides, I think IFLA is a network and open platform for professionals to exchange ideas and share experiences, and that is why many colleagues are willing to attend the WLIC every year.

It is a source of expertise. When they carry out certain kinds of work and feel confused, they might turn to IFLA to find reference, answers or solutions.

It is an inspiration. In the past years, many libraries in China have participated in the awards of IFLA, like Green Library Award, Management and Marketing Award, etc. If awarded or even listed, it will be of a great courage to them to continue.