International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions

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International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions (IFLA)
IFLA org logo.svg
Established1927; 94 years ago (1927)
TypeInternational nongovernmental organization
Christine Mackenzie
Secretary General
Gerald Leitner

The International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions (IFLA) is the leading international body representing the interests of people who rely on libraries and information professionals. An independent, non-governmental, not-for-profit organization, IFLA was founded in Scotland in 1927 and maintains headquarters at the National Library of the Netherlands in The Hague. IFLA sponsors the annual IFLA World Library and Information Congress, promoting universal and equitable access to information, ideas, and works of imagination for social, educational, cultural, democratic, and economic empowerment.

IFLA closely partners with UNESCO, with several IFLA manifestos recognized as UNESCO manifestos.[1] IFLA is a founding member of the Blue Shield, which works to protect the world's cultural heritage threatened by wars and natural disaster.


IFLA was founded in Edinburgh, Scotland, on September 30, 1927 when library associations from 14 European countries and the United States signed a resolution at the celebration of the 50th anniversary of the Library Association of the United Kingdom. Isak Collijn, head of the National Library of Sweden, was elected the first president. The first constitution was approved in Rome in 1929 during the World Congress of Librarianship and Bibliography.[2]

During the 1930s the first library associations from outside Europe and the US joined, these being China, India, Japan, Mexico and the Philippines. By 1958 membership had grown to 64 associations from 42 countries. A permanent secretariat was established in 1962. By 1970 there were 250 members from 52 countries. The secretariat was moved to The Hague in 1971. By 1974 IFLA membership had become virtually global with 600 members in 100 countries.[2]

Membership criteria were expanded beyond library associations in 1976 to include institutions, i.e. libraries, library schools and bibliographic institutes. At this time, the word Institutions was added to the organisation's name. Since then further new categories of membership have been created, including personal affiliates.[2]

IFLA has now grown to over 1,400 members in approximately 140 countries. It is headquartered in the Koninklijke Bibliotheek, the National Library of the Netherlands, in The Hague.


"A strong and united library field powering literate, informed and participative societies."[3]

IFLA's objectives are:

  • To represent librarianship in matters of international interest
  • To promote the continuing education of library personnel
  • To develop, maintain and promote guidelines for library services

Core values[edit]

The objectives are informed by the following core values:

  • The endorsement of the principles of freedom of expression embodied in Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights
  • The belief that people, communities and organizations need universal and equitable access to information, ideas and works of imagination for their social, educational, cultural, democratic and economic well-being
  • The conviction that delivery of high quality library and information services helps guarantee that access
  • The commitment to enable all Members of the Federation to engage in, and benefit from, its activities without regard to citizenship, disability, ethnic origin, gender, geographical location, language, political philosophy, race or religion.

Strategic Programmes[edit]

Action for Development through Libraries Programme (ALP)[edit]

Launched in 1984 and initially known as Advancement of Librarianship in the Third World before changing name in the 1990s, the programme supports capacity building through a series of small grants and projects in developing and transition countries and advocacy for access to information[4] Its main activities include:

  • Building Strong Library Associations Programme
  • International Leaders Programme
  • Advocacy for the role of access to information and libraries in the UN 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development

Committee on Copyright and other Legal Matters (CLM)[edit]

Copyright and intellectual property issues and laws have long been recognized important to the library profession.[5] A volunteer-driven committee, the CLM was created to advise and represent the IFLA on matters of international copyright law.

The CLM produces legal briefs and is the representative for the IFLA at meetings of the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO).[6] The CLM's activities for the WIPO involve:

  • Copyright limitations and exceptions for libraries and archives
  • Copyright limitations and exceptions for visually impaired persons
  • Relations with WIPO Secretariat
  • Opposition to the Broadcast Treaty at WIPO
  • Development Agenda at WIPO
  • Preservation of Traditional Knowledge at WIPO[7]

Committee on Free Access to Information and Freedom of Expression (FAIFE)[edit]

One of the core activities of IFLA is the Committee on Free Access to Information and Freedom of Expression,[8] which monitors the state of intellectual freedom within the library community worldwide, supports IFLA policy development and co-operation with other international human rights organisations, and responds to violations of free access to information and freedom of expression.[9] FAIFE provides guidance and leadership on issues of intellectual freedom around the world through the publication of annual reports, guidelines, manifestos, special reports, and statements.[10]

The mission of FAIFE is to:

  • Raise awareness of the essential correlation between the library concept and the values of freedom of expression.
  • Collect and disseminate documentation and aim to stimulate a dialog both within and outside the library world.
  • Act as a focal point on the issue of freedom of expression, libraries and librarianship.[11]

IFLA/FAIFE is a member of the International Freedom of Expression Exchange, a global network of non-governmental organisations that monitors freedom of expression worldwide.[12] It is also a member of the Tunisia Monitoring Group, a coalition of 16 free expression organisations that lobbies the Tunisian government to improve its human rights record.

Strategic Programme on Preservation and Conservation (PAC)[edit]

Established in 1984, the Strategic Programme on Preservation and Conservation (PAC) focuses on efforts to preserve library and archive materials, in any form, around the world.[13] Unlike other IFLA Strategic Programmes, PAC features a decentralised approach, with global strategies implemented by a Focal Point and activities managed by Regional Centres.

PAC aims to ensure that both published and unpublished library and archive materials are preserved in an accessible form. In doing so, the programme follows three main guiding principles:

  • preservation is essential to the survival and development of culture and scholarship;
  • international cooperation is a key principle;
  • each country must accept responsibility for the preservation of its own publications.[14]

IFLA Trend report[edit]

The first IFLA Trend commissioned report entitled "Caught in the waves or caught in the tide? Insights from the IFLA Trend Report,"[15] was published in January 2013 and launched at the World Library and Information Congress in Singapore on 19 August 2013.[15] The IFLA trend report resulted in the identification of high level societal emerging trends which may affect the global information environment. The research consists of a number of documents—including an overview, annotated bibliography and research papers—is intended as a web platform for ongoing consultation.[15]:3 In this first stage of the review from November 2012 through 2013, "social scientists, economists, business leaders, education specialists, legal experts and technologists"—who were mainly outside the library sphere—were consulted.[15]:3

One of the key focal points of the report was the inundation of the archives with a tidal wave of information. By 2010 this represented more than 1 zettabytes of data or 1.8 trillion gigabytes.[15]:3[16]

The report listed "five key trends" which will change the "information environment...New technologies will both expand and limit who has access to information... Online education will democratise and disrupt global learning ...The boundaries of privacy and data protection will be redefined... Hyper-connected societies will listen to and empower new voices and groups... The global information economy will be transformed by new technologies..."[15]:4


Manifesto for Libraries Serving Persons with a Print Disability (LPD)[edit]

Endorsed by the Governing Board of the IFLA in April 2012, the first draft of the Manifesto for Libraries Serving Persons with a Print Disability was intended to support the Marrakesh VIP Treaty. After further drafts, the LPD Manifesto was passed in November 2013 at the 37th UNESCO General Conference in Paris.[17] The LPD Manifesto encourages libraries to provide more accessible library and information services for blind and visually impaired patrons. According to the IFLA, lack of access to information is the biggest barrier for persons with a print disability to fully and effectively participate in all aspects of society.[18]

The six statements of the LPD Manifesto are as follows:[18]

  1. IFLA recommends that all library and information providers, as part of their core services, put in place services, collections, equipment and facilities, which will assist individual users with a print disability to access and use resources that meet their particular needs for information.
  2. IFLA encourages library and information service providers to consult individuals with a disability, and groups representing them, in the planning, development and ongoing delivery of services.
  3. IFLA acknowledges that the best services are provided by professionals who are aware of the needs of, and service options for, people with a print disability. Therefore, IFLA encourages all library and information services to ensure that staff are adequately trained and available to work with users with a print disability, and supports career-long professional development and formal library and information studies programs, which will facilitate the strengthening of equitable library and information services to people with a print disability.
  4. IFLA supports efforts to improve access to resources by people with a print disability through service agreements, referrals and sharing of resources between library and information services; and between these and other organisations specialising in services targeted for people with a print disability. Therefore, IFLA encourages the establishment and development of an international network of libraries of accessible materials.
  5. IFLA supports efforts to ensure that copyright legislation enables equal access by people with a print disability to information from all libraries and information providers.
  6. In addition to meeting legislative requirements, IFLA encourages the observation of universal design principles, guidelines and standards to ensure that library and information services, collections, technologies, equipment and facilities meet the identified needs of users with a print disability.

Jay Jordan IFLA/OCLC Early Career Development Fellowship Program[edit]

Sponsored by the IFLA and OCLC, the Jay Jordan IFLA/OCLC Early Career Development Fellowship Program "provides early career development and continuing education for library and information science professionals from countries with developing economies."[19] Each year, the four-week program provides up to five individuals with the opportunity to interact with important information practitioners in the field. Additionally, the Fellows deliver presentations that grapple with libraries' challenges and formulate development plans that benefit their personal career growth.

2017 IFLA/OCLC Fellows[edit]

Announced in August 2016, the five selected 2017 IFLA/OCLC Fellows are:[20]

How to spot fake news
IFLA publication (2017)


According to IFLA "The most important work in IFLA happens in the various groups that make up the organisation".

More than 60 sections and special interest groups are organized in five divisions to carry out a variety of IFLA's activities and programs.


The current president of the IFLA is Christine Mackenzie.[21]

IFLA Presidents in time.
In yellow the presidents with a Wikipedia article, in gray without a Wikipedia article. In red female presidents and in green male presidents. Data from August 2019.[22]
List of presidents of the International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions[23]
Name Tenure
Isak Collijn 1927 to 1931
William Warner Bishop 1931 to 1936
Marcel Godet 1936 to 1947
Wilhelm Munthe 1947 to 1951
Pierre Bourgeois 1951 to 1958
Gustav Hofmann 1958 to 1963
Sir Frank Francis 1963 to 1969
Herman Liebaers 1969 to 1974
Preben Kirkegaard 1974 to 1979
Else Granheim 1979 to 1985
Hans-Peter Geh 1985 to 1991
Robert Wedgeworth 1991 to 1997
Christine Deschamps 1997 to 2003
Kay Raseroka 2003 to 2005
Alex Byrne 2005 to 2007
Claudia Lux 2007 to 2009
Ellen Tise 2009 to 2011
Ingrid Parent 2011 to 2013
Sinikka Sipilä 2013 to 2015
Donna Scheeder 2015 to 2017
Gloria Pérez-Salmerón 2017 to 2019
Christine Mackenzie 2019 to present


See also[edit]


  1. ^ "IFLA: The International Federation of Libraries". Retrieved 8 May 2013.
  2. ^ a b c Henry, Carol. "International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions", World Encyclopedia of Library and Information Services ed. Wedgeworth, Robert. 3rd ed. 1993. Pages 378–382. ISBN 0-8389-0609-5, ISBN 978-0-8389-0609-5.
  3. ^ "IFLA Global Vision". IFLA. 3 March 2021.
  4. ^ "Action for Development through Libraries Programme".
  5. ^ Rubin, Richard (2010). Foundations of Library and Information Science (3 ed.). New York: Neal-Schuman. p. 343. ISBN 978-1-55570-690-6.
  6. ^ "Committee on Copyright and other Legal Matters (CLM)". International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions.
  7. ^ "Activities". IFLA. 24 March 2014. Retrieved 11 November 2014.
  8. ^ FAIFE website
  9. ^ "About FAIFE". International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions.
  10. ^ "Publications from FAIFE". International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions.
  11. ^ "FAIFE Mission". International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions.
  12. ^ IFEX website
  13. ^ "About the Preservation and Conservation Strategic Programme". International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions.
  14. ^ "About the Preservation and Conservation Strategic Programme". IFLA. 22 September 2014. Retrieved 11 November 2014.
  15. ^ John Gantz; David Reinsel (June 2011), "The Digital Universe Study: Extracting Value from Chaos" (PDF), International Data Corporation, Framingham, MA, retrieved 9 February 2016
  16. ^ Marlin, Mike (November–December 2014). "Promoting Access for Blind and Visually Impaired Patrons". American Libraries. American Library Association. 45 (11/12): 21–22. Retrieved 4 November 2014.
  17. ^ a b "IFLA Manifesto for libraries serving persons with a print disability". International Federation of Library Associations. 7 May 2014. Retrieved 4 November 2014.
  18. ^ "Jordan IFLA/OCLC Fellowship Program". Retrieved 2 September 2014.
  19. ^ "Five librarians selected as 2017 IFLA/OCLC Fellows". 16 August 2016. Retrieved 22 August 2016.
  20. ^ "President 2019-2021". International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions. Retrieved 2 May 2020.
  21. ^ Ramírez-Ordóñez, David. "Gender gap, Wikipedia and libraries (in Spanish: Brecha de género, Wikipedia y bibliotecas)". Nomono. Retrieved 26 May 2020.
  22. ^ "IFLA Presidents". International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions. Retrieved 2 May 2020.

External links[edit]