What do the three have in common? At WLIC in Rotterdam, during an impromptu meeting facilitated by Braindate, a group of WLIC attendees came together to discuss their shared interest in accessibility metadata. Accessibility metadata is information recorded about the accessibility features and hazards that are important for users with disabilities or special needs. This metadata allows a user to know how accessible a resource is before they borrow, download, or buy a resource.

As 18 of us squeezed around a table in the Braindate lounge, we shared our concerns and frustrations about the lack of guidance and standards related to the recording and discoverability of accessibility metadata in library catalogues. Many were members of a wide range of IFLA committees and groups, others were attendees from external organizations. IFLA seemed the perfect venue to collaborate on international guidelines or best practices, to promote the visibility of this metadata, as well as consistency of practices across the globe to support metadata interoperability. It also would support the implementation of the Marrakesh Treaty by making works in accessible formats more easily discoverable.

A suggestion was made that we should explore the possibility of creating a IFLA network (IFLA Handbook, pages 72-73). This is a new type of group that promotes collaboration among IFLA committees as well as involving outside experts. Accessibility metadata requires metadata expertise as well as expertise in understanding the needs of library users with disabilities or special needs. So, a network seems well suited to the work of this group.

Right now, over thirty people, from both IFLA bodies and external organizations, have expressed their interest in staying connected and moving ahead. There are three next steps that are happening in parallel: 1) preparing to apply for approval as an official IFLA network and enlisting the support of IFLA committees as sponsoring bodies; 2) beginning the exchange of information and engaging those who did not have the chance to attend the Braindate meeting; 3) developing a preliminary plan.

Are you interested in joining this initiative? We are still adding people to our space in Basecamp, so please contact me, Chris Oliver, interim organizer (christine.oliver@uottawa.ca).