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IFLA 2005:
Report of Achievements

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14 December 2005

Dear Colleagues

This year, 2005, was an exciting and productive year for IFLA. Dominated by engagement with the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS - http://www.itu.int/wsis), it was also a most successful year in many other respects including professional work, membership services and addressing the governance and administration of the Federation.

The Three Pillars, adopted by the Governing Board in December 2004, provides a powerful framework for both the presentation and the reconsideration of IFLA's activities and priorities. Its elements - Society, Profession, Members - identify the domains of IFLA's work for libraries and information services world wide, which are supported by IFLANET, IFLA HQ, the regional and core activity offices, and the Governing Board. A number of initiatives have been taken to strengthen the alignment between IFLA's operations and its priorities including the re-presentation of the budget in terms of the three pillars and the initiation of a strategic plan which will be considered by the GB at its March meeting. The Board has also established the Working Party on Governance to review the operation of IFLA's statutes, which were approved in 2000. Some ideas from the Working Party will be circulated for comment early in 2006. This may result in some changes to the Statutes being put to the members this year and others being considered at a later date.

The Society Pillar recognises the vital role of libraries and information services in building strong and healthy communities, nations and organisations. Our WSIS advocacy, over the last four years through the Geneva phase and to this November's Summit meeting in Tunis, highlighted the important role that libraries play in creating an information society for all (a report will shortly appear on IFLANET). We must now hold the governments to the commitments they made in the WSIS process.

Our success in this process, including our very successful pre Summit conference at the Bibliotheca Alexandrina, Egypt, is the result of coordinated work by many colleagues including national associations, individuals and those who were able to join national WSIS delegations. It has been a demonstration of the strength and importance of our Members Pillar - which we have also strengthened this year by implementing the new national association fee structure and by introducing the new "other associations" category. And, to encourage rejuvenation of the profession and IFLA, the December Governing Board meeting confirmed the continuation of the Student Affiliate category.

IFLA's commitment to societal issues was also demonstrated in the continuing work of FAIFE, which included an investigation and two statements on the human rights situation in Tunisia (the host of WSIS), and the dedicated advocacy of CLM, which extended its work on IP policy from WIPO to the WTO ministerial meeting this month. These core activities project our professional interests in regard to society, tackling many of the contextual issues which affect the operations of libraries and information services around the world.

In addition, IFLA responded to the dreadful Tsunami, which hit several nations around the Indian Ocean twelve months ago, and to the following disasters in other regions. We drew attention to the importance of libraries and information services, offered support to our colleagues in difficulty and established the IFLA Relief and Development Partnership (IRDP) together with several major national library associations. IRDP will enable us to provide some assistance in response to future disasters, mainly to help the assessment of the damage and planning for the future but also to promote disaster preparedness.

Through this initiative we help to build, and rebuild when necessary, the strong professional structures which are the emphasis of the Profession Pillar. Other professional activities this year have included: the very successful World Library and Information Congress in Oslo; the programs of IFLA's sections and divisions; and three very important meetings, the Interlending Conference in Tallinn in September, the High Level Colloquium on Information Literacy and Lifelong Learning at the Bibliotheca Alexandrina last month and the IFLA Meeting of Experts on an International Cataloguing Code (IME ICC3) in Cairo this month. These and the work of PAC, ALP, ICABS and UNIMARC contribute to the vitality and relevance of our global profession. Their programs often result in publications, such as the very timely Preparing for the Worst, Planning for the Best: Protecting our Cultural Heritage from Disaster (ed Nancy Gwinn and Johanna Wellheiser, IFLA Publications no. 111, Munich, Saur, 2005), as well as articles in IFLA Journal which moved to Sage Publications in 2005, laying the foundation for a higher quality and more attractive journal.

In February, we welcomed Dr Peter Lor as our Secretary General, launching him into a very busy program of work with the Governing Board, the Professional Committee, the staff and other colleagues to streamline the operations of IFLA. Peter commissioned an external review of IFLA's business processes which was considered by the GB in December resulting in the implementation of some of its recommendations and further consideration of others. It is clear that the highest priority is to renew IFLA's IT systems, both IFLANET and the 'back end' business systems, so as to make the organisation more responsive and efficient. The 2006 budget makes provision for the first stage of this renewal, the detailed project planning, but it is evident that additional resources will be needed to complete the project without delay.

Support from members for this enhancement and for the continuing work of IFLA, and especially the core activities, will be essential if we are to fulfil our mission fully. To that end, the GB approved the creation of an IFLA Fund, which has already raised some money to assist our advocacy efforts. The membership renewal form will include opportunities for members to contribute further to advocacy and the core activities. We encourage you and your organisations to contribute so that IFLA can continue to be the strong global voice for libraries and information services.

Our heartfelt thanks to all who have contributed so much to our success this year: members, officers, staff and supporters.

We wish you all the best for 2006 - Happy New Year!

Alex Byrne
Claudia Lux
Peter Lor
Secretary General