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

Section of Public Libraries

Annual Report 1994

Sissel Nilsen
Norwegian Library Association
Malerhaugveien 20
N-0661 Oslo
Fax: (47-22) 672368
is Chair of the Section of Public Libraries, and Chair of the Division of Libraries Serving the General Public.

Peter Borchardt

D-10961 Berlin
Fax (49-30) 6905173
is Secretary.

Standing Committee and Section Membership

The Section has 221 registered members. Its Standing Committee totals 17 members from 15 countries, plus five corresponding members and two observers. The Standing Committee held a mid-conference mee ting in Copenhagen, 23-27 April with 13 members in attendance. It also is planning a mid-conference meeting in Bratislava, 10-14 February 1995. The Standing Committee and the Coordinating Board of th e Division recommended in April 1994 to the Professional Board, and through it to the Executive Board, that IFLA establish a Core Programme on Literacy. Its supporting arguments were the following: t hrough this programme IFLA should expand and develop its strategies to support literacy and reading promotion, and consider in what practical ways support for literacy and reading can be developed th roughout the world. The Programme is important for the following reasons:


UNESCO Public Library Manifesto

The main project of the Section during the report period was the draft of the UNESCO Public Library Manifesto, discussed by the Coordinating Board and approved by the Professional Board. The draft w as translated into French by Thierry Giappiconi. However, this version of the Manifesto was not accepted by UNESCO's PGI Division which wanted another revision. Therefore the text presented in Havana was not the official UNESCO/IFLA text. [During November 1994 Hellen Niegaard, SC member from Denmark, had intensive discussions at UNESCO PGI in Paris and a final version was prepared and accepted b y PGI Council in November.] Now that the final version has been approved and available in English and French, all SC members were asked to introduce the Manifesto in their national professional journ als. This task will be carried out in 1995. The Manifesto, meant for decision-makers and librarians, will also be introduced during a world summit in Copenhagen in March 1995.

Guidelines for Public Libraries Promoting Literacy

An English version was published in August 1993, but has not yet been widely dispersed. Barbro Thomas (Sweden) will prepare an article for IFLA Journal on the topic during the course of 1995.

Measuring the Performance of Public Libraries

The second stage of this project was to test the Nick Moore manual on the same topic (prepared under UNESCO contract PGI-89/WS/3). The feedback from different countries on experiences with Nick Moore 's manual was not very encouraging. The SC decided to continue to receive comments on the manual, while at the same time preparing to hold a conference in Germany in 1997 on this topic with the suppo rt of the Bertesmann Foundation. This conference will be held just before the IFLA Council and General Conference in Copenhagen, thus enabling participants from the Third World to attend both events.

Business Information Service

This project was quite difficult to realize because it involved many different approaches and convictions throughout the world. The SC agreed that the project would be concluded with a brief paper by Dick Scheepstra (Netherlands) on experiences with business information services in the Netherlands.

Reading Promotion

The SC agreed that the Section should become involved with this subject. The Round Table on Research in Reading will be contacted to see what the Round Table is doing in this field, and whether it co uld be possible to work together jointly on a project.

National Information Policy

SC members have begun by collecting documents on national information policy. Further work will continue at the spring meeting of the SC in Bratislava in February 1995.

Pilot/Model Libraries - The Delhi Survey

The SC was contacted by colleagues in Delhi announcing their interest in continuing to work on the project. To prepare the work, guidelines for evaluation were established. During an informal discuss ion in Havana, Abdeliziz Abid of UNESCO/PGI recommended extending the project to two other UNESCO pilot/model libraries in Colombia and Nigeria. Evaluators have been contacted, and when work plans ar e established, UNESCO will be contacted for funding.


Section Newsletter

Philip Gill (UK) is the new editor of Public Library News, the newsletter of the Section. Issue No. 11 was prepared and distributed in June 1994.


The Norwegian Library Bureau has sponsored a brochure about the Section to attract new members. The brochure is available in English and Spanish and was widely distributed during the Havana Conferenc e.

Future Conferences

Satellite Meeting in Thessaloniki

The Greek Library Association contacted the Section with an offer to organize a satellite meeting on public library policy in Thessaloniki. The meeting will be held 14-17 August 1995 just before the Istanbul Conference.

Havana Meetings

Pre-Session Seminar

The Section, in cooperation with the Division of Regional Activities, was responsible for the content and organization of the Pre-Session Seminar held in Matanzas on "Libraries for Literacy in Geogra phically and Socially Isolated Communities". Barbro Thomas, former Chair of the Section, was Chair of the planning committee.

The Section also held an open meeting, a workshop jointly with the Sections of Libraries Serving Multicultural Populations and Children's Libraries on "Library Services for Young Adults: An Internati onal and Multicultural Perspective", and its own workshop on "Public Libraries against Illiteracy".

Papers presented

UNESCO's 1994 Public Library Manifesto: An Introduction

Public libraries all over the world are facing the same difficult problems. One is the tendency for governments to consider public libraries a matter of minor relevance to the development of society and consequently to withdraw from funding them and from supporting their development. A second problem is the change in demands for services relating to the following general conditions. There is mor e information on more subjects than ever before. Libraries in all parts of the world seem to experience a distinct growth in educational demands. Problems of literacy are more actual than ever. The t hird problem is that new technologies are rapidly changing the possibilities, the means and the tools of public libraries. New media, new systems and new ways of communication are influencing public library services. To meet such new demands IFLA's Section of Public Libraries examined the most important global document on public libraries: UNESCO's Public Library Manifesto, first issued in 1949 and revised in 1972. Since the document was last revised, political systems, economic structures and technology have changed and altered the scene of action and made a new revision relevant. The auth or concentrates on major themes reflecting the problem areas, and introduces the process of promoting the 1994 Manifesto, starting with the revision process.

Missions de la bibliothèque publique

Influencia del "Manifesto de la UNESCO sobre la Biblioteca Publica" en Colombia

Why Is It Important for Public Libraries to Care for the Specific Needs of Young Adults?

The paper is intended more as a political statement than as a report of activities. Its aim is to show why services for young adults or teenagers, those between the ages of 14 to 19, are not only a s pecific subject for children's librarians, but affect public library planning and the future of public libraries as a whole. The paper is written from a Western European perspective, based on insight s gained in Germany.

Young Adult Services in Johannesburg: Addressing the Needs of Teenagers in a Multi-cultural Society in Transition

Library Services for Young Adults: Norwegian Cooperation Projects between Public and School Libraries

The paper summarizes the successful experiences from three cooperative projects between public and school libraries carried out in Norway. An overview of the school and public library system is also given.

Series of Regional Reports on Young Adult Services with a Focus on Services to Young Adults from Cultural/Linguistic Minorities

Young Adult Library Services

Illiteracy and Public Libraries: An Introduction to Guidelines for Public Libraries Promoting Literacy

The mission of the public library is, among other things, to promote reading. The subject of illiteracy has been dealt with for a long time within the Section of Public Libraries. In 1987 the United Nations decided to proclaim 1990 the International Literacy Year. UNESCO was invited to assume the role of lead organization. In 1990 the Section received financial support from UNESCO to establish g uidelines for public libraries working with illiteracy. Guidelines were prepared on the basis of reports and papers presented at seminars organized by the Section. The principal problem in establishi ng guidelines for libraries combating illiteracy is the tremendous gap between Third World countries and industrialized countries. Libraries that face the extreme rates of basic illiteracy also face a lack of books and reading materials. It is hoped that the guidelines will encourage further discussion in order to promote library services in support of literacy work.

Literacy in Canadian Public Libraries: The Alpha Project

The paper concentrates on the situation of public libraries and literacy in Ontario, one of the ten provinces and two territories that comprise Canada. A profile of an innovative, province-wide, libr ary literacy project that is being coordinated by the Metropolitan Toronto Reference Library, "Alpha Ontario - The Literacy and Language Training Resource Centre" is given. Alpha Ontario is a provinc ial resource centre that responds to the information needs of service providers in the fields of adult literacy and immigrant language training, both in English and French. It is a pioneering project , the first of its kind in Canada.