10 May 2018

IFLA Presidential Meeting and IFLA Global Vision Workshop in Barcelona:

By Sanjay K Bihani and Tina Yang

IFLA Presidential Meeting and IFLA Global Vision Workshop in Barcelona:

By: Sanjay K Bihani and Tina Yang

Sanjay K Bihani and Tina Yang, RSCAO Chair and Secretary participated at the IFLA Presidential Meeting and a two-day workshop on IFLA Global Vision in Barcelona. The event was attended by 143 participants from 35 countries.



In line with the Presidential theme “Libraries as Motors of Change”, IFLA began its Global Vision discussion in 2017 aiming to create the library future as a united library field. As a result of six regional workshops, hundreds of discussions and 22, 000 responses to the online voting from 213 countries, IFLA was ready to launch the Global Vision report at the President’s meeting.  At the following workshop, IFLA engaged a professional trainer to facilitate participants’ understanding and discussion of the Global Vision report. This kick-off event offered a unique opportunity to hear how the leading players in and beyond library field responded to the challenges and opportunities facing the library future.  A series of meetings and regional workshops will be further organized afterwards. The concerted effort will eventually lead to the development of a concrete plan to translate the Global Vision into global action.

President’s meeting

Inspiring talks were given by the leading experts outside the library field. Rafael Ramirez from the University of Oxford shared his insights on how to use scenario planning in TUNA (Turbulent-Uncertain-Novel-Ambiguous) context to reshape strategy and create the future of an organization. Iskra Mihaylova, Member of the European Parliament (MEP) and a former librarian emphasized the library’ role of attracting young and old people to use library information resources and create a forum to present their opinions. In her presentation “The library as a demonstrator of public value, social infrastructure and digital ethics”, Cassie Robinson shed light on such impact of technology on society as the digital inequality, lack of digital understanding and technology accountability. She pointed out that these challenges could be opportunities for library to change the Internet dynamics and be a centre for public engagement and empowerment on internet-related issues.  Both Matthew Finch and Roger Baig Viñas showcased different collaborations and partnerships between libraries and other stakeholders. In Dark Ages 2.0, journalist Glyn Moody described the Dark Age enveloping us where key facets of our world such as truth, expertise, knowledge, sharing and privacy are under attack. Facing the extreme situations, Moddy advocated that libraries should adopt extreme remedies to fight back. Gerald Leitner, the IFLA Secretary General concluded the meeting with the launch of the long-awaited Global Vision report.




Global Vision Workshop

The Global Vision report summary reveals the insights into the views of over 31,000 participants from 190 UN Member States across all seven continents. The key finding is the consensus that libraries are globally united in our goals and values and we must connect locally and globally to address the common challenges.  The report summarized 10 top highlights and opportunities.

  1. Dedicated to providing equal and free access to information and knowledge
  2. Deeply committed to core roles in supporting literacy, learning and reading
  3. Focused on our communities
  4. Embracing digital innovation
  5. Strong advocates for libraries at national and regional leader level
  6. Aware that funding is our biggest challenge
  7. Eager to work more collaboratively and develop strong partnerships 
  8. Desiring to be less bureaucratic and resistant to change
  9. Proud to be guardians of the memory of the world
  10. Attracting young professionals deeply committed and eager to lead

Correspondingly, the ten opportunities for action are the need to:

  1. be champions of intellectual freedom
  2. update our traditional roles in the digital age
  3. update our traditional roles in the digital age
  4. keep up with ongoing technological changes
  5. be more and better advocates at all levels
  6. ensure stakeholders understand our value and impact
  7. develop a spirit of collaboration
  8. challenge current structures and behaviours
  9. maximize access to the world’s documentary heritage
  10. give young professionals effective opportunities to learn, develop and lead

The workshop was the starting point for IFLA to create an idea store gathering the input from all regions and different library types. Some key findings were introduced and discussed by the IFLA Headquarter where participants raised questions and with the help of a facilitator gained a preliminary understanding of the issues and opportunities.  Participants in groups engaged in a series of interactive activities in order to deepen their understanding of the ten highlights and opportunities and shared thoughts and contributed ideas. Focusing on an assigned highlight, each group was required in Gallery Walk to visualize the present and future of library and the path to fulfil the opportunity, and then to brainstorm the top five priorities for IFLA to do in this respect. Open sharing and discussions with other groups were carried out and additional comments were taken into consideration to enrich the original idea store. Other vehicles such as online or offline voting were also employed to gauge participants’ opinions. The collected ideas and final conclusions would be consolidated and presented at the IFLA Congress in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia in August 2018.





With the event, IFLA Global Vision has entered its 2nd phrase which asks the library field to build a vibrant 'ideas store' and explore how we can turn ideas into actions. The IFLA Regional Standing Committee of Asia and Oceania discussed how to respond to IFLA’s call for ideas at its mid-term meeting in Seoul in April 2018.  The Committee will actively engage our member countries in this participatory process to ensure our voices will be heard.

(Photos from:https://www.flickr.com/photos/ifla/sets/72157688843489050/ https://www.flickr.com/photos/ifla/sets/72157664968060067/ )

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