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

Section of Parliamentary Libraries

Annual Report 1994

William H. Robinson
Congressional Research Service
Library of Congress
Room LM-203
Washington DC 20540
Fax:(1-202) 7072615
e-mail: wrob@seq1.loc.gov
is Chair of the Section of Parliamentary Libraries.

Brit Floistad

Library of the Norwegian Parliament
Karl Johanssgate 22
N-0026 Oslo
Fax: (47-2) 2313859
is Secretary.


The Parliamentary Libraries Section is a cohesive group that enjoys meeting and sharing ideas on how to improve services to our respective legislatures. The Section was created in 1966, by separatin g from a combined Section of Parliamentary and Administrative Libraries during the meetings in The Hague. Much of the history of the Section can be traced through its leadership, starting with the ef forts of three German Chairs: Wernicke, 1967-71; Dietz, 1979-83; and Kohl, 1989-92, who is the editor of the distinguished series entitled World Directory of National Parliamentary Libraries, and the recently published World Directory of Parliamentary Libraries of Federated States and Autonomous Territories (1993), and who will continue to serve on the Standing Committee until 1995 .

A unique and sustaining role has also been played by Erik Spicer of Canada, who became associated with the work of the Section in 1961, attended his first IFLA Conference in 1966, chaired the Section for a record period of eight years (from 1972-79) and was responsible for much of its early growth, and continues to be a source of ideas from his current role on the Standing Committee. Dermot Eng lefield (UK) also served effectively as Chair (1985-88) and edited two volumes of distinction and great utility to the Section: Parliamentary Libraries and Information Services (1990) and the long-planned Guidelines for Parliamentary Libraries (1993). The other two Chairs have come from the USA, with Gilbert Gude (1983-85), and William Robinson (1993-to the present).


The Parliamentary Libraries Section of IFLA had 88 members as of August, 1994. Of the total, 47 were parliamentary libraries, and the balance were associations, individual members, and some that wer e both national libraries and parliamentary libraries. The total number of members represents a net increase of six over the previous year, with 10 new additions, and four terminations. Since 1990, the section has grown by 49%. The potential for growth is still quite large, since there are 139 known parliamentary libraries in the world.

Officers and Standing Committee

William Robinson is the Chair of the Section. Brit Floistad serves as Secretary of the Section, as well as Secretary of the Coordinating Board on General Research Libraries. Rosa Marie Fernandez de Zamora (Parliamentary Library of Mexico) served as the coordinator of special projects. The Section continues to function with a full complement of 20 members on its Standing Committee, as well as three corresponding members.

Regional Associations

One of the most effective ways to share practical information and technology is through conferences and personal visits to the libraries of neighboring countries. This is the pattern followed by the Parliamentary Libraries Section of IFLA, which gathers once each year to share ideas to improve parliamentary information practices in their respective legislatures. However, the cost of travel to international conferences has become increasingly difficult to manage for many libraries, particularly in light of the fiscal squeeze on legislatures generally. As a result, there has been a trend t oward the encouragement and creation of regional associations of parliamentary libraries to lessen the distances and costs involved in these exchange activities. The oldest regional association is A PLA (Association of Parliamentary Libraries of Australasia), which was created in 1972. It includes the nations in Australia and Oceania. Europe created the second regional grouping, ECRPD (Europea n Centre for Parliamentary Research and Documentation) in 1977. In Asia and the entire Pacific Rim, there is APLAP (Association of Parliamentary Libraries of Asia and the Pacific founded in 1990. T he newest regional group is APLESA (Association of Parliamentary Libraries of Eastern and Southern Africa) begun in October 1994. Under consideration are regional associations for Latin America, fol lowing the first conference of Ibero-American Parliamentary Libraries in Mexico City in 1993, and some early thoughts are being given to a grouping in Central and Eastern Europe.

Projects and Publications

The fifth edition of the World Directory of National Parliamentary Libraries was completed and published in autumn, 1994. The editor, Ernst Kohl, expanded and improved the questionnaire for t he sixth edition, which was sent to respondents in autumn, 1994.

Progress was made on the proposed book on the Parliamentary Libraries of Latin America. The book will combine the presentations made at the First Encuentra of Parliamentary Libraries of Ibero -America in Mexico City in October 1993, and the 10th International Conference of Parliamentary Libraries in San Jose, Costa Rica in August 1994 (held just prior to the 60th IFLA Conference in Havana , Cuba). The principal paper was presented by Guillermo Molinelli, who is recognized internationally as one of the leading comparative political scientists specializing in legislatures. His paper w ill become the introduction to the book. Other presentations made in San Jose will also be used to complete material for the book, which will be published in both English and Spanish in early 1996.

Work is beginning on a volume covering the Parliamentary Libraries of Central and Eastern Europe and the Former Soviet Union. This project was discussed at IFLA in Cuba, as well as at a speci al meeting of the Parliamentary Libraries of the region in Budapest sponsored by a special US Congressional Task Force on Parliamentary Development in that region. An outline for the book and its co mponent country chapters will be discussed at a follow-up meeting to the Budapest conference to be held in Prague in May 1995. The book will be completed and published by the end of 1996.

A new project was proposed in 1994 (and subsequently approved in early 1995). The highly successful volume Guidelines for Parliamentary Libraries (published in 1993, and already out of print by 1994) will be translated into Spanish, French, and Russian. The hope is to reprint the English version in 1995, along with versions in these three additional languages, which will help promote pa rliamentary librarianship in many regions of the world. We hope to have the work done in 1995, with publication in late 1995 or early 1996.

Two editions of the Section Newsletter were published in June and December of 1994.

Revisions to the Medium-Term Programme

Much of the work plan for the Section of Parliamentary Libraries has been accomplished or is currently on target as of August 1994. Therefore, the section amended its work plan by adding two new ini tiatives and by increasing its emphasis on two existing directions.

New initiatives:

Foster and encourage the development of regional associations of parliamentary libraries
Special emphasis will be given to encouraging organizational efforts in the following three regions: Africa, where APLESA was subsequently established to serve the Parliamentary Libraries of Eastern and Southern Africa in late 1994; Latin America; and Central and Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union. Continuing encouragement will be provided to the two existing regional associations APLA (Association of Parliamentary Libraries of Australasia) and APLAP (Association of Parliamentary Libraries of Asia and the Pacific).
Launch an integrated series of publications
Launch an integrated series of publications analyzing the development of parliamentary libraries in various areas of the world, particularly in Latin America, Africa, and in Central and Eastern Europ e and the former Soviet Union where the pace of change has been most dramatic.
Additional emphasis:
Give additional emphasis to promoting greater understanding of developments in automation as they affect the work of parliamentary libraries. This will take the form of regular presentations at appr opriate IFLA and Section forums (open meetings, workshops, annual conferences of Parliamentary Libraries preceding IFLA annual meetings, etc.), regular articles in the Section Newsletter, periodic su rveys, and appropriate publications.

Promote greater attention to multilingual and multicultural dimensions of parliamentary library work. The Section will continue to ensure that its Standing Committee reflects the rich multilingual a nd multicultural makeup of the world's parliamentary libraries. Special efforts will be made to encourage greater participation by francophone countries and by Arabic nations, and to continue the re cent progress with Spanish-speaking countries.

New Directions for the Section

Parliamentary libraries must respond to a very dynamic environment. Thus, change has become an important force and a common theme in the lives of these institutions. Many of these changes are incre mental in nature, but some of the more important ones have reached nearly revolutionary dimensions. Their combined impacts have been and will continue to be profound.

The universal pinch of resource constraints has had a more incremental effect on parliamentary libraries. We have become more conscious of the need for finding more cost-effective ways to conduct ou r business, and to stay in closer touch with the needs of our "market", the legislatures. One result has been an interest in developing new ways to gauge the response of the legislature to the produ cts and services of parliamentary libraries. The revival of interest in creating regional organizations is another response to the cost-effective imperative. Regional meetings offer the opportunity of maintaining more frequent contacts with colleagues to share ideas on improved services for legislatures and for more effective ways of operation, while at the same time keeping the costs within r eason.

The democratic revolutions begun in Central and Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union in late 1989 and carried into the 1990s worked a profound change in world politics and in the makeup of the Parliamentary Libraries Section. We have added dynamic new colleagues from this region of the world, who have drawn our enthusiastic response to their request for more information and ideas from som e of the older, more established parliamentary libraries. The key to effective legislatures in today's complex world is the knowledge and information that will facilitate wise decisions and enhance the role of the legislature in the policymaking process of the nation. The parliamentary library is central to this effort, especially in Central and Eastern Europe. The result of responding to the needs of our new colleagues has been to add new perspective and dynamism to the ongoing work for the legislatures of the older democracies, and to bring new interest to creating or strengthening res earch capabilities for the parliament.

The twin revolutions in automation and telecommunications will have profound meaning for the work of parliaments and parliamentary libraries today and for the next several decades. Special attention will be given to tracing the implications of these changes for our work over the next several years, and to sharing ideas about how to make effective use of these powerful new tools. In keeping wit h this focus, the theme of the Section's Open Meeting in Istanbul will be "Parliamentary Libraries of the Future."

Future Conferences

The 11th International Conference of Parliamentary Librarians will be held in Ankara, Turkey from 16-19 August 1995, preceding the 61st IFLA Council and General Conference. The Section will focus on "Parliamentary Libraries in the Eastern Mediterranean-Black Sea Crescent". Plans are being made for the meetings in Beijing in 1996.


Costa Rica, 18-19 August

In conjunction with the IFLA Conference in Cuba, the Section held its 10th International Conference of Parliamentary Libraries in neighboring Costa Rica. The Conference carried the theme "Parliament ary Libraries of Latin America and the Caribbean." There were 43 participants from 24 different countries in attendance at the conference that was held in the "Asamblea Legislativa de Costa Rica". We lcoming remarks and analytical reports on the Costa Rican Assembly were presented by: Thejos Salas Gerardo, a Member of the Costa Rican Assembly; Olmedo Castro Rojas, executive director of the Asambl ea; Ms Gloria Valerin Rodriguez on the structure, organization and legislative process of the Asamblea Legislativa de Costa Rica; Ivan Wong, Director of Department of Information and Technology on au tomation; Ms Julieta Volio Guevara, head of the Parliamentary Library, on the parliamentary library, its organization and services; Ms Rhina Mayorga Paredes, Director of the Parliamentary Library of Nicaragua, presented an overview of parliamentary libraries in Central America; Bill Robinson gave a comparative overview of parliamentary libraries around the world; and the plenary address was made by Guillermo Molinelli on "The Role of Information in a Democratic Legislature: A Latin American Perspective."

Havana Meetings

During the IFLA Conference, the Section held two meetings of its Standing Committee, an open meeting, its second annual informal meeting, and a full-day workshop.


The workshop was held in the conference centre, which is also where the National Assembly of People's Power has its meetings. There were four presentations, of which two papers are available. Ernesto Suarez Mandez, Clerk of the Assembly, gave a brief introduction to the Cuban Parliament, its characteristics, organizations, and duties. According to Mr Suarez, the main task for the Assembly at the moment is to handle the difficult political and economic situation Cuba is in. A paper was given by Rita Pages Hernandez, Director of the Library, who stressed the need to exchange books with librar ies in other countries as there is no hard currency. Rosa Torrens Valdes, Director of the Documentation Center of the Provincial Assembly of People's Power, City of Havana, gave a paper on the inform ation and documentation service on the provincial and municipal level. She was followed by Ramon de la Cruz Ochoa, Deputy of the National Assembly of Cuba, who spoke on the process of preparation of laws.

Papers presented

Servicos bibliotecarios y de informacion brindados a los integrantes de los organos de bas del poder popular

The paper provides an overview of the Documentation Center of the Government and the Administrative Council of the province and city of Havana; historical background; analysis of the current situatio n (policy adopted, incorporation of subject matter on local governments, emergence of the parliamentary information need, parliamentary information demand, and the Center's links with the National Sc ientific-Technical Information System (SNICT). The project to redesign services and duties, the information system for provincial and municipal operations and the documentary bibliographical informat ion, network creation utilizing SNICT, the internal structure of the Center, human resources and equipment are covered.

Biblioteca y servicio de informacion a los parlamentarios cubanos

The paper endeavors to provide an overview of the duties performed by the Library and Documentation Center of the National Assembly of People's Power, as part of the information system for Cuban parl iamentarians. It begins with a brief historical description, the current situation, description of clients, services provided, national and international exchange and publications. Emphasis is placed on the link that exists with the National Scientific-Technical Information System. An automated parliamentary information system plan, which is under study for adoption, is presented.

Open Meeting

The open meeting was attended by 45 people, representing many different nations.

Papers presented:

Building Member Understanding and Support for the Parliamentary Library

Parliamentary libraries do not exist as discrete entities. Their raison d'etre is to provide information service to the organ of government which funds them. Striving for, and actually delivering an excellent information service must be the primary goal of the Library's chief executive, but it is almost equally important to convince the Library's major clients, the Members, whether they access s ervices directly or through their aides and assistants, of the quality and dependability of the services they are receiving. As public scrutiny of administrative costs becomes more intense, funding f or the Library is ever more dependent on the perception that it is performing effectively and delivering good value for the money outlaid for its upkeep. Hence it is essential that as many Members as possible have a clear understanding of the positive value to them individually of the Library's services, in the expectation that this will engender continuing support for the Library. This paper di scusses a number of ways in which this may be achieved in libraries both large and small.

User Oriented Services: A Feedback Strategy for Gaining Understanding and Support for the Parliamentary Library

The paper considers a shift of emphasis in the services offered by the Chilean Library of Congress to emphasize user needs and demands rather than what the Library perceives as necessary. This user e mphasis has become the backbone for the development of services (it could eventually mean creating new services, restructuring old services, or even dropping services). The need for user feedback has led to creation of an explicit feedback strategy, which incorporates some important Library concerns such as characteristics of users (cultural behavior, personal attitudes), structured and unstruct ured feedback tools, intelligence gathering, impact assessment, and development of top-quality services and Library image as a means of building Library understanding and support.

The Importance of Advertising: The Use of Brochures and Highly Visible Services to Attract Members' Attention and Encourage Use of the Library

As Poland's upper house, the Senat completes its fifth year in its new existence, the nation's emerging democracy requires an increasing volume of knowledge and constantly updated information. The Re search and Analysis Office of the Senat Chancellery facilitates access to this knowledge and information. Routine and individual procedures are used to attract the Parliamentarian's interest to the s ervices of the Research and Analysis Office. Routine procedures include succinctness and reliability. Materials such as original and uniform graphics and colorful covers are provided. A uniform timef rame and location have been established for the distribution of materials, some of which are sent to a mailing list that is broader than the confines of the Senat. Individualized procedures encompass tailored services such as personalized requester searchers, well-developed contacts for specific information, exhibitions on specific topics of interest and seminars on potentially "hot issues", cla rification of user needs to build demand for research and analysis services (market building). and ongoing analyses of demand (market research).

Using Automation and Electronic Services to Build Support for the Parliamentary Library

Technology has added new dimensions to every aspect of life. Parliamentary libraries are no exception. Use of technological innovations in the field of information though computers has opened new hor izons to libraries and made new automated and electronic services available to users. This paper discusses automation services that contribute to parliamentary information systems in general and desc ribes how such services can assist Members of Parliament by expanding the range of information available, selecting information, improving the speed and accuracy of transmission, creating information networks, and enabling information sharing among institutions. These and other new uses of automation have increased Member interest in and support for parliamentary libraries.