Our Annual Report records our achievements and progress in relation to our Action Plan for the last year.

Read our Action Plan for the past year to see what we set out to achieve.

If you have questions about our work, suggestions about what you would like us to work on, or you would like to help us, please contact one of the members of the Standing Committee.


These are the activities that were completed during the year:

  1. Sponsored a 1-day satellite conference at the University of Cape Town on the theme: “Managing and promoting special collections in Africa: The Bleek-Lloyd collection and beyond.” Five speakers addressed the wide-ranging impact of the Bleek-Lloyd collection on research in a number of disciplines. Four speakers addressed more practical issues around managing African collections. The day ended with a panel discussion talking about issues around providing access to African collections. The papers are available on the section’s website.
    The session increased awareness of African special collections and pointed out challenges still faced in managing those collections, such as lack of financial support and lack of trained professionals to carry out the work.
  2. Sponsored Session 206 at the Cape Town World Congress on the theme “Fostering collaboration to build and preserve African cultural heritage.” Topics included documenting the 1994 genocide in Rwanda, building a union database of African resources, and the past, present, and future of the Timbuktu manuscripts.
    The papers are available in the IFLA Library.  A summary of the session, with photos, was published on the section’s blog. The session demonstrated successful examples of how international collaboration has assisted in preserving and disseminating African cultural heritage.  The Timbuktu manuscripts, however, remain at grave risk.
  3. Start a blog for the section. The blog launched in November 2015 under the title “Rare and Special.” The blog is hosted by Hypotheses.org. New blog postings are regularly highlighted on the section’s Facebook page.
  4. Commission translations of the IFLA Standard, “Guidelines for Planning the Digitization of Rare Books and Special Collections.”      
    Completed and published: Turkish, Spanish, Italian, Korean, Chinese, and Portuguese.  In-progress: Arabic, Croatian, Hindi.
    New translations are announced as News items on the section’s website between January and August 2015, and on the section’s Facebook page. The standard and translations are available on the publication’s website. We have received many positive comments about the importance of the standard and its availability in many languages. Unfortunately, we have no measurable evidence of its impact.

Work still in progress

The following objectives and activities are still in progress and feature on our Action Plan for 2016:

  1. To increase the visibility of special collections and to increase the attention of library to their special collections

    • Initiate discussions about how the section can best support IFLA’s new strategic plan.
    • Write to IFLA HQ to propose increased section involvement in new initiatives to preserve cultural heritage.
    • Plan a conference session for the 2016 world congress in Columbus.          
  2. To increase the visibility of special collections and to increase the attention of library to their special collections

    • planning for a 2-day satellite conference in Chicago in 2016;
  3. To encourage networking for special collections and associations around the world          

    • Appointed a committee to study current communication mechanisms and make recommendations.            
    • The committee recommended ceasing the newsletter and starting a blog. The blog launched in November with Daryl Green as editor. The section also maintains a Facebook page and posts photographs of section events on Flickr.
  4. To encourage networking for special collections and associations around the world          

    • Update the section webpage “International Organizations and Projects related to Rare Books and Manuscripts”;
    • convert the printed brochures into webpages.           
  5. To re-invigorate the section’s participation in issues of around cataloguing and description of rare books and special collections.

    • Organized a one-day seminar on cataloguing for the 2016 midyear meeting in Lisbon.
  6. To help specialists face new problems and adapt to the evolution of the profession

    • Continue to commission new translations for the IFLA Standard: “Guidelines for Planning the Digitization of Rare Books and Special Collections”
    • Translations in-progress: Arabic, Croatian, Hindi.

Standing Committee Meetings

Members of the Standing Committee met during the following times:

  • 12 March 2015: Physical midterm meeting hosted by the Warburg Institute in London.
  • 15 and 19 August 2015: Physical business meetings at the 2015 World Congress
  • Monthly: Section officers met monthly via GoToMeeting, Skype, or conference call to discuss ongoing business and program planning.

Minutes of the meetings were distributed to Section Members by email and posted on the section’s website.