IFLANET home - International Federation of Library Associations and InstitutionsAnnual ConferenceSearchContacts

61st IFLA General Conference - Conference Proceedings - August 20-25, 1995

UAP: Where theory becomes practice

Graham P Cornish, Programme Officer, UAP Core Programme, British Library, Boston Spa, UK


UAP is such a fundamental principle of the whole concept of library services that it is often difficult to pinpoint the most interesting and exciting things that the Programme has been doing or is pl anning. However, I shall try to highlight some of the more important elements in our continuing programme.

Conferences and meetings

A vital part of spreading he message of UAP is meeting and teaching colleagues throughout the world. During the year a UAP workshop was held in Bangkok to bring together colleagues from a number of c ountries. The workshop was very successful and enabled many common problems to be discussed and introduced colleagues from the participating countries to each other to enable them to build professio nal links across national boundaries. The workshop was organised by the Thai Library Association and mixed intensive professional discussions with teaching and social events with considerable effici ency. If funding can be found a further workshop is planned for Latin America in 1996 or 1997. A further major event was the 4th. Interlending & Document Supply International Conference which was he ld in Calgary in June. About 200 colleagues were given the opportunity to hear about a wide range of issues and developments and discuss these. The high quality of these conferences is now a well e stablished tradition and was more than continued by the hard work of the Canadian Library Association and the National Library of Canada. The 5th. Such conference is already on the drawing board and will be held in Arhus in Denmark just before the 1997 IFLA General Conference. The Programme staff have also participate in a number of conferences, notably one on libraries in the democratic proce ss which was held in Moscow in December and which served colleagues from the CIS and former Socialist states of Europe and another on Resourcing Academic Libraries which was primarily an Anglo German discussion in Munster in February. The German theme will be continued when one of the staff presents the latest work on the Voucher Scheme during an international study tour of German libraries in September. The work the programme is doing in the field of improv8ng availability and access to the handicapped was the focus of a conference in Madrid in November to conclude the EXLIB project whic h looked at using technological innovation to improve public library services for the visually handicapped. The voucher scheme will be given further exposure when a staff member presents it once gain during a NRODINFO conference on Interlibrary co operation at Elision in October.


The Programme is always willing to offer advice in the fields in which it specialises. The Programme Officer visited Moscow in December at the invitation of Unesco to advise on the document supply ne twork for the Russian Federation and the role of the Russian State Library. Although the invitation was personal rather than for IFLA, the expertise of the Programme staff was of considerable value.


Sometimes it is necessary to find out just what is going on in the library world and UAP undertakes some of this kind of work. One example is the recent study on the use of ISBNs for library co ope ration purposes. Plans are now underway to carry out a similar investigation to find out how ISSNs are used and this will be done jointly with the ISSN International Centre in Paris and the Section on Serial Publications.

Practical solutions to real problems

The Programme has both a long term approach to the issues that concern it and also a pragmatic approach to find real solutions to existing problems. Two examples are the Voucher Scheme and the Fax guidelines. The Voucher Scheme was first suggested in 1989 during the Paris Conference and is designed to take some of the expense and bureaucracy out of international interlending and document supp ly. However, some countries also see it as a way of improving their own internal systems as well. With support from CDNL, Unesco and the British Library considerable research has been carried out b y Programme staff into the possibilities of such a scheme and it is a delight to be able to say that a pilot project has now begun and we shall evaluate this carefully and analyse any problems it hig hlights before deciding whether to make the scheme generally available or treat it as just an experiment. More details of the voucher scheme can be obtained from the UAP Office. Similarly the Offic e has put together guidelines of the use of fax for making interlibrary loan requests and these have now been approved and will be published in major library journals world wide in an attempt to brin g some kind of standard practice into existence. On a much bigger scale, and longer timespan, is a project being designed with colleagues in Norway and Denmark to consider the possibilities of impro ving document supply in Africa using high quality telecommunications and Electronic mail systems. The idea is to assist colleagues in Africa to build systems which enable them to become more interde pendent within their own region rather than relying solely on external supply sources which are too expensive and may not meet their basic needs. As this a also part of the basic philosophy behind t he voucher scheme, the two initiatives will be closely linked in the next few years as funding is sought and methodologies applied. The idea of interdependence is carried further by the idea of Twin ning of libraries. The Programme has a contract with Unesco to design and implement a database for library twinning especially for public libraries. It is hoped this will improve the present rather ad hoc systems and reduce unnecessary bureaucracy and frustration. As an essential element in the achievement of UAP is good interlibrary co operation, the Programme is pleased to be discussing wit h the Section on Serial Publications, the Section on Document Delivery & Interlending and the Section on Bibliography the possibility of a project to identify union catalogues throughout the world. Rather than being an exhaustive listing this would be a survey of union catalogues in each country of region, thus creating a sort of union catalogue of union catalogues in the Bestermann tradition! One of the Programme's most important publications over the years as been the Guide to Centres of interlending & Copying. Because these two activities are not necessarily undertaken by the same org anisation any more it has been decided to split the Guide into two parts: one for lending and one for copying, the latter to include centres such as INIST and commercial document suppliers. The first volume, a Guide to Centres of International Lending, is now available and a sample can be viewed at this conference, hot off the press!


UAP is really about making information of all kinds available through published media so it is reasonable for the Programme to offer information itself. We continue to build a database on document supply and interlibrary loan throughout the world and this can be searched for anyone by topic, country or author. Inquiries welcome!! The Programme also produced a printed booklet entitled National Libraries of the World. This information is now kept on disk and updated as new information becomes available. Paper copies can be supplied as and when required and are the most up to date informa tion available. The text can also be sent through Email systems or specific information requested.


The Programme has a on going programme of publications which are produced fairly cheaply but to good standards using camera ready copy in most cases. Examples are papers from UAP workshops, the Inter lending & Document Supply International Conferences and other meetings. A publications leaflet is available from the Programme Office.

Links with publishers

Because the one of the basic requirements of library services is using published materials the Programme places considerable emphasis on working with publishers. Now that IFLA has established a Pub lishers Liaison Committee, of which the Programme Officer is Chair, it is hoped to pursue this strand in the Programme's work more energetically. As is well known the Programme has a strong interes t in copyright law and the solutions to the problems which this poses especially in the electronic environment. The PLC link will enhance this work The PLC will have a major role to play in the Pre session seminar on copyright to be held in China in 1996. .


Copyright is often seen as a rather boring subject but it is central to UAP objectives. For some time the staff in the UAP Office have been involved in projects, on behalf of the British Library rath er than IFLA, on solutions to the complex issues of copyright management in the electronic world. This has now borne fruit for IFLA itself and the Office is a partner in a major European Union proje ct, called COPEARMS, to implement certain technical solutions across the whole Union. The funding is for three years and will take up virtually the whole of the time for one officer. Meanwhile work continues on projects with such intriguing names as CITED, COPICAT, IMPRIMATUR and MURIEL.

Co operation

The foundation of the Programme is to cooperate. We work with Unesco, the European Commission, different IFLA Sections, national libraries in general, CDNL and individual governments and agencies. We are always keen to share our insights, skills and knowledge with anyone who feels they can use us or them. We welcome suggestions and approaches from anywhere in the world so do not wait for us to call you you can call us!