IFLA Dialogue: Opening statement from the IFLADIAL working group


On Saturday, August 11, at the very start of the IFLA World Library and Information Congress 2012 in Helsinki, all Section officers – including Special Interest Groups’ Convenors – were invited to the Leadership Brief arranged by the Professional Committee (PC). There was great interest in this meeting – the room was full at 8AM.

The formal agenda had four information items; the final point was devoted to “questions and discussion”. Many of the participants clearly wanted a more participatory meeting, and said so during the debate. Debates and decisions ought to be more transparent to newcomers and the library world outside IFLA. People want much more dialogue and mutual learning, rather than a steady stream of guidelines, deadlines and reports. Ann Okerson, who heads the PC, was later interviewed by IFLA Express and expressed her strong interest in innovation.

At the Division IV Leadership Brief on Sunday, August 12, we had a lively discussion about communication within IFLA, ably led by Division Chair Anna Maria Tammaro. As a result, Division IV decided to set up a small Working Group, coordinated by NPSIG Convenor Sebastian Wilke, to address the communication issue and to develop proposals for the PC. The Working Group had its first meeting on Tuesday, August 14.

IFLA as an organisation is definitely moving towards greater openness, participation and web awareness. We recognise and appreciate this development. At the same time we – like many others – feel that IFLA needs to speed up the process.

IFLA is changing, but the world is changing faster. As an institution IFLA is still five to ten years behind the “best cases” of open, participatory, web oriented organisations.

The IFLA language is forward looking. It stresses inspiration, participation, empowerment and the need for change. But much of the organisational practice is rather bureaucratic. The real decision processes are not transparent, and there is very little open debate about contested issues.

We want IFLA to “walk the talk”. The best way to change this situation is to combine initiatives from the top – Governing Board, Professional Committee, IFLA HQ – with initiatives from below. This means:

  • more dialogue, speaking together on a basis of equality;
  • more transparency, so that we can understand and participate in IFLA decision making processes on an informal basis;
  • personal visibility on the web, so that we can get to know people, their positions and their interests without going to lots of meetings.

In order to help us drafting a paper on communications, we would like to start a conversation on these issues on the open web, which we invite all friends of IFLA to join. Please let us have your suggestions and ideas on how to improve the current situation regarding communications within IFLA by Saturday September 15.

As members of the Working Group, we will be active in presenting our own views in open fora. We will also do our best to follow and collect contributions from you that we will incorporate to the paper on communications to be presented by Anna Maria Tammaro for discussion at the PC meeting in December 2012.

To make this process easier, we will use existing blogs, the IFLA mailing list and other online platforms; please use #ifladial for any posts, tweets and other contributions.

We have also created a short online survey which we would be grateful if you could complete to give us your views. The survey, available in English at: http://www.surveymonkey.com/s/M8W7FZR will close at the end of Saturday September 15.

Additionally, we will have two #ifladial chats on Twitter on Saturday September 1 and Saturday September 8 to give you further possibilities to join the discussion. The twitter chats will last for one hour and the starting times are as follows:

1st of September:

Vancouver (Canada – British Columbia) Saturday, 1 September 2012, 02:00:00 PDT UTC-7 hours
Chicago (U.S.A. – Illinois) Saturday, 1 September 2012, 04:00:00 CDT UTC-5 hours
New York (U.S.A. – New York) Saturday, 1 September 2012, 05:00:00 EDT UTC-4 hours
Buenos Aires (Argentina) Saturday, 1 September 2012, 06:00:00 ART UTC-3 hours
London (United Kingdom – England) Saturday, 1 September 2012, 10:00:00 BST UTC+1 hour
Berlin (Germany – Berlin) Saturday, 1 September 2012, 11:00:00 CEST UTC+2 hours
Cape Town (South Africa) Saturday, 1 September 2012, 11:00:00 SAST UTC+2 hours
Moscow (Russia) Saturday, 1 September 2012, 13:00:00 MSK UTC+4 hours
Bangkok (Thailand) Saturday, 1 September 2012, 16:00:00 ICT UTC+7 hours
Singapore (Singapore) Saturday, 1 September 2012, 17:00:00 SGT UTC+8 hours
Tokyo (Japan) Saturday, 1 September 2012, 18:00:00 JST UTC+9 hours
Sydney (Australia – New South Wales) Saturday, 1 September 2012, 19:00:00 EST UTC+10 hours
Corresponding UTC (GMT) Saturday, 1 September 2012, 09:00:00

8th of September:

Vancouver (Canada – British Columbia) Saturday, 8 September 2012, 10:00:00 PDT UTC-7 hours
Chicago (U.S.A. – Illinois) Saturday, 8 September 2012, 12:00:00 CDT UTC-5 hours
New York (U.S.A. – New York) Saturday, 8 September 2012, 13:00:00 EDT UTC-4 hours
Buenos Aires (Argentina) Saturday, 8 September 2012, 14:00:00 ART UTC-3 hours
London (United Kingdom – England) Saturday, 8 September 2012, 18:00:00 BST UTC+1 hour
Berlin (Germany – Berlin) Saturday, 8 September 2012, 19:00:00 CEST UTC+2 hours
Cape Town (South Africa) Saturday, 8 September 2012, 19:00:00 SAST UTC+2 hours
Moscow (Russia) Saturday, 8 September 2012, 21:00:00 MSK UTC+4 hours
Bangkok (Thailand) Sunday, 9 September 2012, 00:00:00 ICT UTC+7 hours
Singapore (Singapore) Sunday, 9 September 2012, 01:00:00 SGT UTC+8 hours
Tokyo (Japan) Sunday, 9 September 2012, 02:00:00 JST UTC+9 hours
Sydney (Australia – New South Wales) Sunday, 9 September 2012, 03:00:00 EST UTC+10 hours
Corresponding UTC (GMT) Saturday, 8 September 2012, 17:00:00

In October we will make the draft paper available for comments and suggestions.

We look forward to hearing from you!

Thanks in advance for your contributions,

Sebastian Wilke, Convenor of the New Professionals Special Interest Group (NPSIG)
Maria Cotera, Convenor of the Women, Information and Libraries Special Interest Group (WILSIG)
Tord Høivik, Secretary of Statistics and Evaluation Section
Ulrike Lang, Co-Chair of the Continuing Professional Development and Workplace Learning Section (CPDWL)
Dace Udre, NPSIG activist
Sanita Maleja, NPSIG activist
Dierk Eichel, Information Coordinator of NPSIG
Catharina Isberg, Information Coordinator of the CPDWL Section
Silvia Cecilia Anselmi, Web Editor of the Latin America and the Caribbean Section (LAC)

(the announcement was also posted on the GLOSSA blog, the CPDWL blog, the NPSIG blog, and the IFLA website; a Spanish version was posted on the LAC blog)

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