5 August 2016

Building Strong Library Associations Programme successfully completes current round of activities

The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation Global Libraries Initiative partnered with IFLA to support the Building Strong Library Associations programme over three years from 2013-2016. At the conclusion of this grant in August 2016, the programme has achieved or exceeded its objectives. The programme will continue in 2017.

The Building Strong Library Associations programme has been implemented in a variety of models since 2009. The programme is a flagship activity for IFLA, and has reached more than 80 countries since it began through a range of meetings, regional activities, projects and trainer development. The long-term goal of the programme is to build the platform for library associations, representing the interests of library users, to tell the story of libraries and gain policymaker support and partnership, and be a force for change in providing equitable public access to information.

The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation Global Libraries Initiative partnered with IFLA to support the Building Strong Library Associations programme over three years from 2013-2016. At the conclusion of this grant in August 2016, the programme has achieved or exceeded its objectives. The programme will continue in 2017.

BSLA session at IFLA WLIC 2016

Delegates attending the World Library and Information Congress in Columbus are invited to participate in the ALP session to hear stories from participants in the programme, and updates on plans for the future:

Answering the call to action – Action for Development through Libraries
16:00 – 18:00 Monday 15 August, Session 111
Union Station Ballroom

Delegates will have the opportunity to hear directly from the United Nations, IFLA and countries around the world working to achieve the UN 2030 Agenda, and the results of Building Strong Library Associations projects held at the regional level since 2013. Insights into how to get involved in ALP and IFLA programmes will be shared together with an opportunity to ask questions of programme participants and IFLA staff. Presentations will be made in English, Spanish and Arabic with Simultaneous Interpretation.

Objectives 2013-2016

This three-year project aimed to strengthen the capacity and voice of the library sectors in the Africa, Asia and Oceania and Latin America and Caribbean regions. The project had two additional components that further enriched the experience of BSLA:

  1. Working at the regional level where participants were encouraged to think strategically about needs across the region, how these should be prioritized, and what is needed for delivery. Trainers nurtured other new trainers to build capacity within the region. Countries were encouraged to work collaboratively and support others across the project;
  2. Engagement with Management of Library Associations Section (MLAS) for example through a satellite meeting at the 2014 WLIC and the Panama regional project in 2016, meetings at the WLICs, involvement of regional standing committee members and regional offices, Leaders Associates, and where appropriate IFLA partner organisations such as AfLIA.

Regional activities

A series of regional convenings (workshops) held in Kumasi (Ghana), Jakarta (Indonesia) and Sao Paolo (Brazil) in 2014 kicked off implementation in the current model, and brought together representatives from national associations in a region to participate in training and practical activities. Representatives from completed BSLA country projects, core trainers, and regional experts also participated and the convenings served as important opportunities to train new trainers who were ‘alumni’ of previous BSLA country projects who had gained the knowledge of the programme and developed their own associations, and were ready to share this experience with others.

A Global Meeting was held in Manila, Philippines 30 May-2 June 2016 with a selection of the most active associations who had participated in BSLA since 2014, as well as core trainers, representatives from past country projects including Botswana, Peru, Ukraine, Cameroon. Associations participated in activities to develop sustainability and action plans for their associations to continue development after participating in BSLA, and sessions on the role of associations in IFLA’s global advocacy work.

Implementation: Small projects and cascade

Following the 2014 convenings, IFLA issued three calls for proposals beginning in late 2014 for project funding and implementation in the three IFLA regions. Using the draft proposals prepared during the convenings, associations further developed these with their boards and gained advice from the Regional Offices, ALP members and IFLA Headquarters to revise their proposals. projects have thematic strands such as ethics, leadership or advocacy which build on the BSLA workshops and provide a source of professional development offerings for the association to its members.

Funds and support could be used in a variety of ways depending on the needs and capacity of each participating association:

  • To implement co-sponsored BSLA workshops and other activities at existing events eg national library association conferences, regional meetings
  • Small projects in-country, consisting of a series of workshops and other activities utilizing modules from the BSLA training package; advocacy capacity building eg utilizing the Libraries on the Agenda module
  • Cross-country projects bringing together a smaller number of countries in the region to form alliances or partnerships in pursuit of advocacy goals.

The three rounds of calls for applications for implementation funds gave associations the opportunity to develop proposals in each round as their own needs change, to build on activities as implementation rolls out, and ensure that funds are allocated across the whole implementation period, not just at the start. Several associations including Colombia, Zimbabwe and Uganda took advantage of this structure to implement projects in more than one round, as they were able to successfully implement one project and identified further development needs.

24 country-level and regional projects were implemented from 2013-2016.

Further details about these projects can be found on our BSLA Country Reports webpage.

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