Stichting IFLA Global Libraries (SIGL), an independent public benefit foundation, was established in 2016 to support the work of the International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions (IFLA) as a legacy partner of Global Libraries. This report will focus on the activities undertaken by IFLA in support on the legacy initiative. SIGL provides financial and programmatic oversight ensuring the work that IFLA undertakes with funding from Global Libraries is in accordance with the wind-down strategy.
In its original Legacy Grant Proposal Narrative, IFLA stated a desire to transform public libraries, the library field and itself through concerted and coordinated efforts at the global, regional and local level. We believe that the last 18 months has seen the organisation develop and implement a first set of efforts that have established a foundation based on collaboration and a mindset of doing things differently. As a global organisation with a tradition of leading and setting direction, the past year has challenged all involved in IFLA to work in a more inclusive style.
The first phase of the Legacy Grant was called “Discover and Launch” and this ties to one of IFLA’s aims; to engage openly and transparently with IFLA members and synchronize the activities of IFLA’s professional units. Never before has IFLA attempted to work with the library profession across all sectors and all nations at the same time. The many meetings of the past year have not been meetings for meetings sake, but an attempt to gain involvement and commitment to a shared future. IFLA has been open about what it is hoping to achieve and has responded to feedback with active listening, sharing and trust. IFLA has not been able to achieve all it set out to do in the first phase and some activities have been postponed. We have learnt about the capacity and effort required to work quickly across all areas of the globe and understood the iterative nature of developing programmes and materials leading to final versions supplied to the field. We have stumbled over the perfect plan, rewritten and reworked activities as we went.
This journey has increased our organisation’s understanding of how to work with others. IFLA can be justifiably proud of the achievements of this phase: the engagement of over 30,000 librarians from 190 UN member states in a global vote and 185 workshops, all discussing a Global Vision that addresses the challenges and opportunities for the library field; over 100 countries contributing library statistical data to the Library Map of the World; 1,300 responses to IFLA’s first membership survey providing feedback that will push the organisation forward; and the DA2I report which broadened and strengthened IFLA’s ability to provide an evidence base to global organisations such as the UN and the World Bank.
IFLA’s learnings from Phase 1 are already influencing how we go forward. We have adjusted strategies from last year to improve on similar actions this year. While the path IFLA laid down in the Proposal Narrative leads towards a transformation, we have realised that the metamorphosis we are seeking requires not only actions but the mindset that is willing to collaborate with others, to recognise and improve on flaws, and seek solutions. Our aim is to continue this approach, to utilise the Legacy Framework Values and Principles, and embrace adaptive design of the processes and effective communication of priorities to engage leaders across library types to support both national and global efforts.
Within the Phase 1 of Discover and Launch, IFLA aimed to (1) establish a collective global vision among IFLA members and the Library field; (2) engage with IFLA’s professional units and members in synchronized planning to achieve the vision; (3) build a strong foundation and operational capacity for subsequent phases; (4) raise awareness of the need for community engagement and evidence-based decision making among libraries; and (5) develop strong library metrics that can be used for advocacy.
To create a global vision of an aligned and connected library field, able to fulfill the potential of libraries to meet individual and community needs, IFLA undertook a massive effort to create the first Global Vision discussion. By using our links to library associations in countries worldwide, IFLA was able to gain buy-in from all sectors of the profession and from librarians at all levels. IFLA’s professional units committed to participate in the process and felt more included in the creation of IFLA’s future than ever before. This was not a conversation aimed only at leaders, every single librarian could have their say by contributing their thoughts on the challenges facing the library field. In the online vote, 37% of votes came from librarians with 1-10 years of experience. This is incredibly encouraging and indicates the willingness of young professionals to become involved. Aimed at ultimately producing a united library roadmap for the future, interest in the discussions exceeded expectations. This was the first time that many librarians had heard of, or engaged with, an IFLA activity and our organisation benefited from the awareness raising that this discussion engendered. The extent of participation has provided IFLA with a mandate for the next steps of the process. Following analysis of over 600,000 data points, IFLA produced a summary report outlining key findings, highlights and opportunities. Work in 2018 involves re-engaging with the field to consider the opportunities and have them contribute to a store of bold ideas for action which will influence the development of a more united library field; enthuse national associations to implement change relevant to their needs; and provide the foundation for a new strategic plan for IFLA.
Questions were asked at all stages of the activity and key areas of learning that have informed our efforts included establishing a feedback and refinement process to improve from meeting to meeting; optimizing our engagement with the IFLA Governing Board and Professional Units; and establishing a methodology for synthesizing and analyzing input
To grow as a membership organisation, IFLA needs to understand how members perceive its current services and activities. IFLA undertook its first membership survey with the goal of establishing a baseline of what IFLA members value in the organisation and in their participation and involvement. The survey targeted all members (associations, institutions and individuals); committee members from IFLA’s many standing committees who feel themselves highly engaged with the federation; lapsed members; and the library field in general. Extending the survey to the library field allowed a larger external group to provide their viewpoints on IFLA and provide valuable feedback on how IFLA is perceived by non-members and those who may be on the fringes of the federation but not yet fully engaged.
Preparations for the survey resulted in a major update of member data. The level of engagement with IFLA members rose and members responded positively to receiving the invitation to participate in the survey. Around 1300 responses have provided IFLA with a wealth of feedback and suggestions for improvement. Given our worldwide membership, it was satisfying to see the results and comments received in all of IFLA’s seven languages. Some of the suggestions will be acted on immediately while others require further discussion as part of strategic planning over the coming year. This first survey has established a baseline against which IFLA can measure its improvement over coming years.
The purpose of the Library Map of the World (LMW) project is to address a critical and unmet need of IFLA and the library field to accurately collect and share basic information about the library landscape in each country. The activity aims to collect a set of basic library performance indicators as well as stories on how libraries contribute to the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) from as many countries as possible and to utilise the process of discussion, collection and visualisation of the data and SDG stories to encourage advocacy based on statistics and impact.
The Library Map of the World forms the initial steps in IFLA’s future efforts towards community engagement and impact measurement. These first, basic, national level performance indicators and statistics provided by countries allow us to understand and assess their “data readiness” – the level and sophistication of statistical awareness of the field in a particular country. By working through library associations and national libraries, IFLA offers them the opportunity to better understand the sectors of librarianship within their country and to strengthen liaison among themselves to provide national level data. We have learnt that the level of statistical collection and understanding differs greatly and that even the most developed country may lack data for a particular sector.
The activities of the Library Map of the World and Global Vision have contributed significantly to our understanding of how IFLA can approach community engagement and impact measurement with an international perspective. IFLA’s journey in moving the field towards impact measurement must involve a continuum of learning points from understanding the basics of statistics to higher level development of relevant programmes and more sophisticated and longitudinal measurement of impact.
The call for libraries to contribute stories of their programmes and services that demonstrate impact on society has highlighted the inability of many to describe and evidence what they do in a way that would be compelling to stakeholders. We learnt from the Global Vision information that when lacking statistics, compounded often with limited advocacy skills, libraries find themselves in a vicious circle of decreasing funding and stakeholders unaware of the potential of library programmes for their community. IFLA realises that changing the mindset of librarians and building capacity in this area is a long-term proposition and will develop a plan for Phase 2 that encompasses concrete actions to drive progress.
In conjunction with the statistics and stories of the Library Map of the World, IFLA requires evidence that can be used for advocacy purposes at the highest international fora. To this end, IFLA launched the first Development and Access to Information (DA2I) Report in July 2017 in New York on the occasion of the UN High Level Political Forum. The report sets out the contribution that meaningful access to information can make to development and establishes a set of indicators and a baseline for this purpose. It aims to show how access to information can drive progress, empowering people and communities and providing a foundation for equality, sustainability and prosperity. The report received very positive feedback from experts at the UN itself, and has provided a strong evidence base for subsequent engagement at the World Bank, the Internet Governance Forum, and elsewhere. The power of a research output, as a basis for advocacy, is clear.
The report was our first joint activity with Legacy partner TASCHA who contributed their research experience of evaluating library initiatives on the ground, and data analytical capacity. Despite a successful outcome, we realised that for a joint activity, the level of coordination was insufficient, resulting in differing expectations and some tension. For fruitful future partnership activities, we have learnt that it is important to spend the time beforehand ensuring agreement regarding expectations, processes and outcomes. Another learning from this activity was that data in international indicators does not change dramatically from year to year and a decision was made to wait until 2019 for the next edition. In 2019, the UN has asked countries to report on their achievements related to the SDGs including education, employment and access to information, all areas particularly relevant to the programmes and services provided by libraries.
For IFLA, this report is a foundation and an evidence base for future efforts. It is not a one-off activity but a document to be updated every two years until 2030, thereby showing the influence of access to information on sustainable development. We believe that meaningful access to information can help to build sustainable communities and the DA2I report will align with the SDG stories gathered via the Library Map of the World.
IFLA’s staffing capacity increased dramatically during Phase 1 with four new staff brought on board to assist specifically with new activities. With these staff came new skill sets, particularly in the areas of data analytics, communications and logistics. While IFLA has had experience in operating across borders and languages over many years, Phase 1 of the Legacy Grant has pushed us to improve our communication, translation processes and liaison with the field. We have called on members to assist us in the Global Vision workshops and found generous and willing partners in all regions of the world who hosted IFLA and provided over €69,000 of in-kind contributions. Improving IFLA’s engagement with countries and regions is a long-term proposition and Phase 1 has reignited a spirit of collaboration. Members and non-members wish to be part of our activities and discussions and one of IFLA’s challenges will be to maintain the level of enthusiasm and involvement over future years.
The milestone was completed in December 2016. Following a kick-off event in Athens, Greece in April 2017, that gathered more than 300 librarians from around the world and from different library specialisations, IFLA organised a series of six high-level regional meetings involving 335 participants from 140 countries who engaged in the discussions held in Washington D.C., Yaoundé, Alexandria, Buenos Aires, Singapore and Madrid.
Between April and October, IFLA’s Professional Units organised 50 meetings engaging even more participants. We received reports from 116 self-facilitated meetings led by national associations and other library institutions and leaders. In total, together with meetings organised by IFLA, 185 Global Vision physical meetings took place, involving over 9,200 participants.
An online voting platform launched in August 2017 asked similar questions to those used in the other meetings and was available in more than 20 languages. IFLA received around 22,000 votes from 213 countries and areas of the world, from 190 out of 193 UN Member States. An analysis of the feedback from self-facilitated meetings and the online platform resulted in the Global Vision Summary Report which will drive activities during 2018. The analysis of over 600,000 pieces of data was at a scale not previously attempted by IFLA staff. With advice from data analysis specialists in the USA, we undertook a coding activity to categorise all data. Staff then developed a methodology which could be explained to anyone wishing to know how the Global Vision results were produced. We purchased the Tableau software and developed skills in-house to manipulate the data and produce relevant analysis and charts. The flow-on from this has been a huge increase in our capacity to deal with, and manipulate, large data sets. We feel this will assist IFLA in future activities as we move on to Phase 2 and Phase 3.
The Global Vision discussion and the bold ideas for actions that we are creating and collecting in 2018 will influence IFLA’s Strategic Plan for 2019 – 2023. Indeed, the learning from all activities over the past year have given the leadership of the organisation a greater depth of understanding of the library field in all its global permutations. This is essential for the development of strategies where IFLA can make the most impact over the coming years.
The milestone was completed in August 2017. The plan for the survey including outline and timeframe was endorsed by the IFLA Governing Board at its meeting in August 2017. The IFLA membership survey was IFLA’s first systematic attempt to understand how the organisation and its activities are perceived by members and the library field. The information provided by the survey will form a valuable basis for future strategic and operational planning. Combined with the analysis of the Global Vision discussions, a picture may emerge for the role of IFLA as an international catalyst within the library field. The survey aims to understand what institutions and associations value in their IFLA membership as well as what is valued by individuals who volunteer their time and expertise to IFLA efforts. The in-depth interviews provided additional insights into what motivates people to participate in IFLA’s work, what they value in their IFLA engagement, and what they would want to be able to contribute in their future engagement. Working in all IFLA languages, the survey captured informed and wide-ranging responses across all member types, the field in general and all geographies.
IFLA contracted a company with market research and membership survey experience to administer and analyse the survey. The development process included consultation with a range of IFLA staff and members of the Governing Board who have provided advice throughout. The online survey was launched in December 2017 and was available in all IFLA languages. It was supplemented with a sample of in-depth interviews across member types, geographies and length of involvement. Questions in the survey cover membership, involvement with IFLA, awareness of IFLA activities, communication preferences and views of IFLA. The survey closed in January and a full report was provided to IFLA in March 2018.
Highlights of the survey included a high satisfaction rate in general with IFLA and the networking opportunities it represents. Members valued its role as the global representative of the profession and committee members felt highly engaged in the organisation. Values selected by participants as representing IFLA included the terms “participatory” and “visionary”. Opportunities for improvement applied particularly with IFLA’s institutional members who requested better and more frequent communications and additional resources such as learning modules or toolkits that could be used by their staff. Institutional members in Europe and North America saw IFLA as less relevant and we need to improve our communication regarding the policy and advocacy work undertaken by the Federation on their behalf. For individuals there is an opportunity to improve the member value proposition for early career members. Without the survey, IFLA’s membership strategies were based on assumptions and hearsay. The organisation is now better placed to implement impactful measures and increase member satisfaction and retention.
The milestone was completed in March 2017.
Milestone 3 was intended to show the collaborative effort between the Legacy partners to provide input and feedback on (a) definitions, (b) survey instruments, and (c) FAQ & website text for the Library Map of the World. IFLA staff leading the Library Map of the World project worked with staff from TASCHA and the Public Library Association (PLA) to identify indicators and metrics that we believed the majority of countries could supply. IFLA was able to benefit from the previous experience of TASCHA and PLA in statistics gathering and their understanding of the capacity of the field to supply specific indicators. Definitions for each metric were designed based on existing ISO and library standards. IFLA also utilised its Statistics and Evaluation Section to advise in this area. The survey instrument used for gathering the statistics was reviewed along with supporting text in the FAQ. These formed parts of the package in the initial call for countries to use when contributing their national level data.
The Library Map of the World went live in August 2017 at IFLA’s World Library and Information Congress containing national level library statistics for 63 countries and the first stories of how libraries support the UN SDGs.
IFLA’s ability to advocate on behalf of libraries has to be informed by an understanding of the situation of libraries present around the world. An additional underlying purpose of this activity was to increase engagement with national associations or national libraries in countries with little existing relationship with IFLA. IFLA’s World Congress in 2017 involved over 3,000 attendees from 113 different countries. When confronted at the launch of the Library Map of the World with the visualisation of their country as a blank data space, many participants returned home to prompt their library organisations to provide data. A learning from the first cycle of data collection has been the difficulty for some countries to provide basic statistics. This can be due to lack of cooperation across sectors, government bureaucracy, and the lack of a data culture within individual libraries. As data and measurement is often key to impact and advocacy success, and as a major focus of IFLA will be on improving the advocacy skills of librarians, IFLA must look to how it can work with legacy partners and others in building capacity in statistics and measurement across the field.
An evaluation of each country’s data readiness, based on the extent to which they could provide statistics prompted IFLA to put the addition of new metrics on hold and to continue work on getting statistics for this core set of metrics across each major library sector.
IFLA also began a section of the website to display high quality stories demonstrating how libraries can serve as partners to help meet local development needs and address the UN SDGs. Originally, we hoped to build on examples submitted to IFLA as part of its International Advocacy Programme. However, it became clear that many of the examples lacked detail and substance in terms of describing the impact of the library activities on individuals or their communities. This experience has confirmed the need for training resources that develop skills in measuring the outcomes and impact of library programmes as a future requirement for the field. It is an area where IFLA can see possibilities for work particularly with PLA as they already have substantial experience in this field.
The first stories received needed a high level of curation and editing and showed that library staff find it very difficult to measure the impact of their services and programmes and also to describe that impact in a way that speaks compellingly to stakeholders. Utilising content compiled and written by Associates (young professional leaders) in IFLA’s International Leaders Programme, a storytelling manual has been developed to assist librarians in writing their story in a way that acts as an advocacy tool. This activity was a successful example of IFLA utilising the skills of a different group of librarians within its pool of experts and volunteers to develop necessary resources for use by the field. The manual will be provided to participants invited to an IAP convening in June 2018 who will be asked as a condition of attendance to bring with them one possible story from their country which could be added to the SDG Stories section of the site.
IFLA is heartened by the buy-in to the Library Map of the World from so many countries. While some who were approached were originally too busy to provide data, the visual nature of the project has proven to be a great encouragement for countries to be involved at some level. It has also provided many contacts in countries with whom we previously had little communication and thus has increased their interest in IFLA and IFLA’s understanding of them. It is enhancing the perception that IFLA is working on behalf of libraries and their interests in all areas of the world.
A call for updated national level data is being undertaken annually and the 2018 invitation to contribute has just been issued. Developments to optimise the site for users in 2018 include a country comparison tool and a country page outlining the library environment and stakeholders in each country. These will contribute to providing stakeholders and others with a more complete overview of libraries and their activities in a particular country and a better showcase for libraries to utilise in advocacy work.
Consultations, discussions and research on candidates have been undertaken. Two additional members, Inge Lunden and Vesna Vuksan were endorsed at the SIGL Board meeting on 23 March 2018.
Our work over the last year has provided us with many opportunities to learn and reflect, placing us in a strong position for the years ahead. These learning opportunities cut across internally and externally as IFLA continues to move towards being a more collaborative, inclusive and transparent organisation. The Legacy Partnership and the Legacy-related activities are key in this transition. For example, the Legacy Partnership Values have been incorporated in the IFLA Staff performance review. Alignment of IFLA’s efforts ensures our work is joined-up and connected. For example, the IFLA Trend Report, a selection of resources to help understand where libraries fit into a changing society, was incorporated in the Global Vision workshop methodology, while the Global Vision toolkit for self-facilitated meetings was used in the IFLA Trend Report 2016 update as a practical implementation for the discussion about social trends impacting the library and information service environment.
We have developed our integration of multilingualism throughout our activities. The Global Vision discussion was an opportunity to translate extensive material to make it a truly global conversation. In addition to the seven official IFLA languages used in the Global Vision voting, we were able to offer, through the mobilisation of the library community, translations in a further 13 additional languages thereby increasing the ability to participate in the Global Vision discussion. Outside of the Vision process, the translation of our Fake News infographic into over 35 languages shows the potential of crowdsourcing translations from a wider range of countries. Following the results of our open survey in which we asked our community their opinion on the importance of multilingual content on IFLA’s new website, we will invest in quality translations via our Language Centres and explore other methods such as automatic translations to ensure our content is accessible to as many of our global family as possible.
As we continue to reach out to our global community through Library Map of the World and Global Vision, we have developed new contacts and renewed existing ones. This has led to an updated and aligned database, identified new influencers and reached countries that have previously not been involved in IFLA before. The Legacy has provided an opportunity to intensify collaboration with external partners and develop our ability to reflect on respective strengths in order to make most progress towards common goals. With Legacy partners, we have learnt to adapt and combine IFLA’s natural representative and leadership role with the expertise of others. In strategically placed external partners, such as libraries in UN institutions or development banks, the Global Vision has caught the imagination, and opened doors into the international system. The Global Vision work has also strengthened collaboration between teams at IFLA, with work on data, programmes, and policy and advocacy coming together ever more strongly. The DA2I Report serves in large part to empower those associations and members involved in the International Advocacy Programme (IAP). The Library Map of the World will feed strongly into advocacy work, and in turn Development and Access to Information will contribute to the value of the Library Map. IFLA’s Policy and Advocacy Team’s engagement in external events should provide a possibility to take the messages of the Library Map to external users, and in drawing on the expertise of the IAP participants, we can strengthen our impact at the national and regional level. The single focus has helped build a stronger sense of a common direction of travel. The Legacy Project has also empowered IFLA’s communications abilities, with dividends for all teams. Staff across IFLA have made progress towards understanding clearly the potential of effective communications and adapting their work and practices accordingly.
The activities carried out in 2017 have also proven the importance of networking. Through IFLA’s Regional Offices, Language Centres, regional workshops under the IAP and Global Vision, IFLA’s relations with the larger connected library field have been strengthened. IFLA has been cascading this experience to the library field. For example, library leaders participating in the Regional IAP workshops were trained in role-playing and elevator pitches. The training content was very well received and put into practice after the workshops by many participants, who reported their successes in the IAP Updates regularly published by IFLA. The Associates from IFLA International Leadership Programme are another example of the importance of a network. They have been working together on several topics and have learned to step up and speak out in many international meetings like the Internet Governance Forum, World Intellectual Property Organisation, the High Level Political Forum of the UN and many more to make the voice of libraries heard. The Associates are gaining experience on presenting and advocating for libraries that is then used by the library field on the local level. Along with the network of Core Trainers, they are included on a list created by IFLA to answer one of our Members’ needs of helping them identify a trainer on a specific topic and by specific language.
The advocacy work carried out at the national level moves us towards a situation where our work internationally is strongly complemented by local efforts. A long-term goal will be the closer integration of activities at all levels, for example to ensure that the messages governments hear in capitals and in international institutions is the same. Such an approach will help us better realise our potential as a truly global network of actors.
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