Wednesday, August 26, 2015

IFLA and Medlibs


IFLA and Medlibs #medlibs chat
Thursday, August 27, 2015
9pm Eastern/6pm Pacific
Led by Michelle Kraft (Krafty)

Last week the International Federation of Library Associations (IFLA) held their World Library and Information Congress 2015 (WLIC) in Cape Town, South Africa. As the President of the Medical Library Association I attended the congress. While IFLA offers personal memberships, it is an association of associations and its focus (and its name) really indicate that.  For example, only member associations and institutions have voting rights, individual members do not. From my observations and experience, IFLA works to get all library associations together as a group of organizations to address issues that are impacting librarians within their associations. I recall one of the IFLA staff members saying to the meeting of member association presidents something like, "We want to help you help your members."
The WLIC meeting was interesting in that it was like a regular librarian meeting but most of the people who participated were participating as members through their association.  It was also a very diverse conference representing many professions of librarians. There were 3,000 librarians at this meeting. Those who attended were from law librarians, art libraries, and a lot of people from public and school libraries attended.  There were a few medical/health science librarians. To me it was like a giant international ALA meeting, that tends to focus on three areas public librarianship, general academic librarianship, and school librarianship.  
The IFLA leaders spoke a lot about the success of the Lyon Declaration, on access to information and development. 

We, the undersigned, believe that increasing access to information and knowledge across society, assisted by the availability of information and communications technologies (ICTs), supports sustainable development and improves people’s lives. We therefore call upon the Member States of the United Nations to make an international commitment to use the post-2015 development agenda to ensure that everyone has access to, and is able to understand, use and share the information that is necessary to promote sustainable development and democratic societies.

IFLA has been doing a lot to improve access to information around the world. In the Association Membership meeting I saw a lot of different associations discussing the importance of access to information. I don't think anyone at MLA can disagree with this being important, but I did note that there was no mention of health information, just information in general.  If you take a look at their sections and groups, there is only one small section within IFLA that medical librarians naturally fit into.  It is the Health and Biosciences Section.  In order for MLA to be members of IFLA, it costs $11,000 a year. As a member of MLA and as President, I am thinking long and hard about MLA's international presence and what that means to us as an organization, our members, our groups (International Cooperation Sections, Librarians without Borders, the Cunningham Fellowship, and our bilateral agreements with other countries' medical library associations.) 

For this chat please look at
From IFLA:

From MLA:

So we can discuss

  1. MLA's international role as a whole and where you would like us to go and grow and how would that impact our role to our members?
  2. Is IFLA membership necessary to get us where we want to go and grow internationally?
    • If yes then how do we as medical librarians 
      • Improve our presence within IFLA because honestly it is a small group that is easily overshadowed.
      • Get a better return on our $11,000 investment? 
      • How would our members get funded to go to IFLA? We have a lot of trouble getting our members to our own meeting.
  3. If no then what ways do you see MLA attracting new international medical librarians who could add to the diversity of the MLA membership? (This question isn't intended to grow membership but to to get a diverse group of medical librarians from around the world to participate within MLA so that we ALL can learn from each other globally.)
Lots of heady things to talk about. I hope you plan to join us in the discussion.  

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