Congress theme: “Libraries Now! - Inspiring, Surprising, Empowering”

Building strong library associations: Results from the first six countries’ projects

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BSLALibrary associations are key institutions in the library and information sector around the world. For the benefit of the countries where a library association is underdeveloped, the IFLA Action for Development through Libraries Programme (ALP) launched in 2010 a new programme called Building Strong Library Associations (BSLA). The BSLA programme is a comprehensive method for offering a strategic approach to capacity building and sustainability of library associations. During Tuesday’s session, associations shared how they have used BSLA in practice to advocate on behalf of the profession, increase membership, improve communication and work towards stronger library communities.

Buhle Mbambo-Thata, ALP Committee Chair, gave a short introduction to the work of BSLA, followed by Fiona Bradley, IFLA ALP Programme Coordinator, who went on to the programme’s methodology and described the impact evaluation.  See the just released BSLA Impact Report 2012.

Since its initiation, the programme has been successfully carried out in six preliminary countries, with a number of workshops and outreach activities taking place. The programme consists of:

  • Training package and case studies on library association development
  • Mentoring and advice on forming partnerships
  • Cross-association activities
  • An online platform for interactive learning and materials.

Promising achievements

A representative from each of the six preliminary countries—Botswana, Cameroon, Lebanon, Lithuania, Peru and Ukraine—gave a short summary of the results and perspectives on further developments. The impact had been enormous on the strategic and educational levels as well as on a practical level.

Future of the BSLA Programme

After just a few years, the first six countries are underway with strong progress towards their goals; it is clear that each association has the knowledge and experience of the programme to carry it forward within their country and region. Since 2010, new library associations in other countries as well have implemented the BSLA methodology on their own needs, such as Nepal, Argentina, Kazakhstan, Madagascar, Russia, Samoa, countries in South Eastern Europe and Vietnam.

“You ain’t seen nothing, it’s gonna get even better! We are going to see a huge benefit of the BSLA programme in the near future.”
Buhle Mbambo-Thata

“The hard work has just begun…expectations have raised…the challenge is to keep working to really have a great impact in the future of the libraries in each country.”
Fiona Bradley


The session ended in a very enthusiastic spirit that reminded me of the beginning of the 20th century—when the idea of librarianship was experienced as a calling.