International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions

International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions (IFLA)
Established1927; 95 years ago (1927)
TypeInternational nongovernmental organization
Barbara Lison
Secretary General
Halo Locher (interim)

The International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions (IFLA) is the leading international body representing the interests of people who rely on libraries and information professionals. An independent, non-governmental, not-for-profit organization, IFLA was founded in Scotland in 1927 and maintains headquarters at the National Library of the Netherlands in The Hague. IFLA sponsors the annual IFLA World Library and Information Congress, promoting universal and equitable access to information, ideas, and works of imagination for social, educational, cultural, democratic, and economic empowerment. IFLA also produces several publications, including IFLA Journal.

IFLA closely partners with UNESCO, resulting in several jointly produced manifestos. IFLA is also a founding member of Blue Shield, which works to protect the world's cultural heritage when threatened by wars and natural disaster.


2011 IFLA meeting in KB in the Hague

IFLA was founded in Edinburgh, Scotland, on 30 September 1927, when library associations from 14 European countries and the United States signed a resolution at the celebration of the 50th anniversary of the Library Association of the United Kingdom. Isak Collijn, head of the National Library of Sweden, was elected the first president. The first constitution was approved in Rome in 1929 during the World Congress of Librarianship and Bibliography.

During the 1930s the first library associations from outside Europe and the US joined, these being China, India, Japan, Mexico and the Philippines. By 1958 membership had grown to 64 associations from 42 countries. A permanent secretariat was established in 1962. By 1970 there were 250 members from 52 countries. The secretariat was moved to The Hague in 1971. By 1974 IFLA membership had become virtually global with 600 members in 100 countries.

Membership criteria were expanded beyond library associations in 1976 to include institutions, i.e. libraries, library schools and bibliographic institutes. At this time, the word Institutions was added to the organisation's name. Since then further new categories of membership have been created, including personal affiliates.

IFLA has now grown to over 1,700 members in approximately 155 countries. It is headquartered in the Koninklijke Bibliotheek, the National Library of the Netherlands, in The Hague.

In 2021 for the first time, IFLA held World Library and Information Congress (WLIC) online because of the continuing global pandemic. On 17–19 August, the virtual conference drew thousands of attendees from around the world to more than 150 sessions with topics that ranged from digital controlled lending to new skill sets for school librarians to climate impact on libraries.


"A strong and united library field powering literate, informed and participative societies."

IFLA's objectives are:

  • To represent librarianship in matters of international interest
  • To promote the continuing education of library personnel
  • To develop, maintain and promote guidelines for library services

Core values

The objectives are informed by the following core values:

  • The endorsement of the principles of freedom of expression embodied in Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights
  • The belief that people, communities and organizations need universal and equitable access to information, ideas and works of imagination for their social, educational, cultural, democratic and economic well-being
  • The conviction that delivery of high quality library and information services helps guarantee that access
  • The commitment to enable all Members of the Federation to engage in, and benefit from, its activities without regard to citizenship, disability, ethnic origin, gender, geographical location, language, political philosophy, race or religion.


How to spot fake news
IFLA publication (2017)

According to IFLA, their "most important work ... happens in the various groups that make up the organisation".

More than 60 sections, strategic programmes, and special interest groups are organized in five divisions to carry out a variety of IFLA's activities and programs.

These divisions are:

  • Library Types (Division I) - includes sections focused on academic, research, public, special, and school libraries; a strategic programme for Committee on Standards; and special interest groups, including Evidence for Global and Disaster Health (E4GDH) group.
  • Library Collections (Division II) - includes sections on acquisitions and collection development, rare books and special collections, and news media; strategic programmes on Preservation and Conservation (PAC) and the Committee on Standards; and special interest groups on LGBTQ users and on library publishing.
  • Library Services (Division III) - includes sections on Bibliography, Cataloguing, and Indigenous Matters; strategic programmes on UNIMARC and the Committee on Standards; and special interest groups on big data and Digital Humanities.
  • Support of the Profession (Division IV) - includes sections on library buildings and equipment, theory and research, and statistics and evaluation; strategic programmes for the Committee on Freedom of Access to Information and Freedom of Expression (FAIFE), Committee on Copyright and other Legal Matters (CLM), and the Committee on Standards; and special interest groups including Women, Information and Libraries Special Interest Group and LIS Education in Developing Countries.
  • Regions (Division V) - includes sections on Africa, Asia and Oceania, Latin America and the Caribbean; strategic programmes for the Library Development Programme (LDP) and the Committee on Standards; and special interest group for Access to Information Network – Africa (ATINA).

Strategic programmes

IFLA operates six strategic programmes:

  • Committee on Standards
  • Copyright and other Legal Matters (CLM) Advisory Committee
  • Freedom of Access to Information and Freedom of Expression (FAIFE) Advisory Committee
  • Library Development Programme (LDP)
  • Strategic Programme on Preservation and Conservation (PAC)
  • UNIMARC Strategic Programme.

Committee on Copyright and other Legal Matters (CLM)

Copyright and intellectual property issues and laws have long been recognized important to the library profession. A volunteer-driven committee, the CLM was created to advise and represent IFLA on matters of international copyright law.

The CLM produces legal briefs and is the representative for IFLA at meetings of the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO). The CLM's activities for the WIPO involve:

  • Copyright limitations and exceptions for libraries and archives
  • Copyright limitations and exceptions for visually impaired persons
  • Relations with WIPO Secretariat
  • Opposition to the Broadcast Treaty at WIPO
  • Development Agenda at WIPO
  • Preservation of Traditional Knowledge at WIPO

Committee on Free Access to Information and Freedom of Expression (FAIFE)

One of the core activities of IFLA is the Committee on Free Access to Information and Freedom of Expression, which monitors the state of intellectual freedom within the library community worldwide, supports IFLA policy development and co-operation with other international human rights organisations, and responds to violations of free access to information and freedom of expression. FAIFE provides guidance and leadership on issues of intellectual freedom around the world through the publication of annual reports, guidelines, manifestos, special reports, and statements.

The mission of FAIFE is to:

  • Raise awareness of the essential correlation between the library concept and the values of freedom of expression.
  • Collect and disseminate documentation and aim to stimulate a dialog both within and outside the library world.
  • Act as a focal point on the issue of freedom of expression, libraries and librarianship.

IFLA/FAIFE is a member of the International Freedom of Expression Exchange, a global network of non-governmental organisations that monitors freedom of expression worldwide. It is also a member of the Tunisia Monitoring Group, a coalition of 16 free expression organisations that lobbies the Tunisian government to improve its human rights record.

Library Development Program (LDP)

Launched in 1984 and initially known as Advancement of Librarianship in the Third World, the programme has supported capacity building through a series of small grants and projects in developing and transition countries and advocacy for access to information. This program focuses predominantly on three main programs under its umbrella:

  • Building Strong Library Associations Programme
  • International Advocacy Programme (IAP), focusing on advocacy for the role of access to information and libraries in the UN 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development
  • International Leader's Programme.

Strategic Programme on Preservation and Conservation (PAC)

Established in 1984, the Strategic Programme on Preservation and Conservation (PAC) focuses on efforts to preserve library and archive materials, in any form, around the world. Unlike other IFLA Strategic Programmes, PAC features a decentralised approach, with global strategies implemented by a Focal Point and activities managed by Regional Centres.

PAC aims to ensure that both published and unpublished library and archive materials are preserved in an accessible form. In doing so, the programme follows three main guiding principles:

  • preservation is essential to the survival and development of culture and scholarship;
  • international cooperation is a key principle;
  • each country must accept responsibility for the preservation of its own publications.

IFLA Trend Report

The first commissioned IFLA Trend Report, entitled "Caught in the waves or caught in the tide? Insights from the IFLA Trend Report", was published in January 2013 and launched at the World Library and Information Congress in Singapore on 19 August 2013. The IFLA Trend Report resulted in the identification of emerging high-level societal trends which may affect the global information environment. The Trend Report consists of a number of documents—including an overview, annotated bibliography and research papers—and is also intended as a web platform for ongoing consultation.: 3  In the first stage of the review from November 2012 through 2013, "social scientists, economists, business leaders, education specialists, legal experts and technologists"—mainly from outside the library field—were consulted.: 3  One of the key focal points of the report was the inundation of the archives with a tidal wave of information. By 2010 this represented more than 1 zettabytes of data or 1.8 trillion gigabytes.: 3 

The report listed five key trends predicted to impact how societies and individuals "access, use, and benefit from information in an increasingly hyper-connected world":

  • new technologies that "will both expand and limit who has access to information"
  • online education that "will democratise and disrupt global learning"
  • redefinition of the boundaries of privacy and data protection
  • hyper-connected societies that "will listen to and empower new voices and groups:
  • transformation of the global information economy through new technologies: 4 

The IFLA Trend Report continues to publish annual updates on these five key trends, as well as compiling and creating further resources.


IFLA has endorsed and collaborated on several manifestos that cover a wide range of issues related to libraries. These manifestos include:

  • IFLA/UNESCO Public Library Manifesto 1994 (1994)
  • IFLA/UNESCO School Library Manifesto 1999 (1999)
  • Alexandria Manifesto on Libraries, the Information Society in Action (2005)
  • IFLA Manifesto on Transparency, Good Governance and Freedom from Corruption (2008)
  • IFLA/UNESCO Multicultural Library Manifesto (2009)
  • IFLA Library Statistics Manifesto (2010)
  • IFLA/UNESCO Manifesto for Digital Libraries (2010)
  • IFLA Manifesto for libraries serving persons with a print disability (2012)
  • Internet Manifesto 2014 (2014)
  • A Library Manifesto for Europe (2019)
  • IFLA School Library Manifesto (2021)—forthcoming

Manifesto for Libraries Serving Persons with a Print Disability (LPD)

Endorsed by IFLA's Governing Board in April 2012, the first draft of the Manifesto for Libraries Serving Persons with a Print Disability was intended to support the Marrakesh VIP Treaty. After further drafts, the LPD Manifesto was passed in November 2013 at the 37th UNESCO General Conference in Paris. The LPD Manifesto encourages libraries to provide more accessible library and information services for blind and visually impaired patrons. According to the IFLA, lack of access to information is the biggest barrier for persons with a print disability to fully and effectively participate in all aspects of society.

The six statements of the LPD Manifesto are as follows:

  1. IFLA recommends that all library and information providers, as part of their core services, put in place services, collections, equipment and facilities, which will assist individual users with a print disability to access and use resources that meet their particular needs for information.
  2. IFLA encourages library and information service providers to consult individuals with a disability, and groups representing them, in the planning, development and ongoing delivery of services.
  3. IFLA acknowledges that the best services are provided by professionals who are aware of the needs of, and service options for, people with a print disability. Therefore, IFLA encourages all library and information services to ensure that staff are adequately trained and available to work with users with a print disability, and supports career-long professional development and formal library and information studies programs, which will facilitate the strengthening of equitable library and information services to people with a print disability.
  4. IFLA supports efforts to improve access to resources by people with a print disability through service agreements, referrals and sharing of resources between library and information services; and between these and other organisations specialising in services targeted for people with a print disability. Therefore, IFLA encourages the establishment and development of an international network of libraries of accessible materials.
  5. IFLA supports efforts to ensure that copyright legislation enables equal access by people with a print disability to information from all libraries and information providers.
  6. In addition to meeting legislative requirements, IFLA encourages the observation of universal design principles, guidelines and standards to ensure that library and information services, collections, technologies, equipment and facilities meet the identified needs of users with a print disability.

Jay Jordan IFLA/OCLC Early Career Development Fellowship Program

Sponsored by IFLA and OCLC, the Jay Jordan IFLA/OCLC Early Career Development Fellowship Program "provides early career development and continuing education for library and information science professionals from countries with developing economies." Each year, the four-week program provides up to five individuals with the opportunity to interact with important information practitioners in the field. Additionally, the Fellows deliver presentations that grapple with libraries' challenges and formulate development plans that benefit their personal career growth.

IFLA/OCLC Fellows by Year

IFLA/OCLC Fellows by Year
Year Fellows
2019 John Oluwaseye Adebayo, Chrisland University, Nigeria

Samar Jammoul, Safadi Public Library, Lebanon

Davaasuren Myagmar, National Library of Mongolia

Tracey-Ann Ricketts, National Library of Jamaica

Ramiro Jose Rico Carranza, Universidad Católica Boliviana San Pablo, Bolivia

2018 Alehegn Adane Kinde, University of Gondar, Ethiopia

Arnold Mwanzu, International Centre of Insect Physiology & Ecology (icipe), Kenya

Boris Đenadić, National Library of Serbia, Serbia

Chantelle Richardson, National Library of Jamaica

Chandra Pratama Setiawan, Petra Christian University, Indonesia

2017 Patience Ngizi-Hara, The Copperbelt University, Zambia

Eric Nelson Haumba, YMCA Comprehensive Institute, Uganda

Sharisse Rae Lim, National Library of the Philippines

Jerry Mathema, Masiyephambili College, Zimbabwe

Nguyen Van Kep, Hanoi University, Vietnam

2016 Idowu Adegbilero-Iwari, Nigeria

Željko Dimitrijević, Serbia

Penninah Musangi, Kenya

Rhea Jade Nabusan, Philippines

Shaharima Parvin, Bangladesh

2015 Stanislava Gardaševic, Serbia

Nomsa Mathabela, Swaziland

Masimba Muziringa, Zimbabwe

Martin Julius Perez, Philippines

Sadaf Rafiq, Pakistan

2014 Olufunmilayo Fati, Nigeria

Franklin Flores Urrutia, El Salvador

W. M. Tharanga Dilruk Ranasinghe, Sri Lanka

Leonila Reyes, Philippines

Sonam Wangdi, Bhutan

2013 Dwaymian Brissette, Jamaica

Caroline Nyaga-Kithinji, Kenya

David Ofili, Nigeria

Rozita Petrinska-Labudovikj, Republic of Macedonia

Chona San Pedro, Philippines

2012 Efua Ayiah, Ghana

Gladys Mungai, Kenya

Md. Shafiur Rahman, Bangladesh

Tanzela Shaukat, Pakistan

Ngozi Ukachi, Nigeria

2011 Khumo Dibeela, Botswana

Geanrose Lagumbay, Philippines

Ngwira Fiskani, Malawi

Milan Vasiljevic, Serbia

Tian Xiaodi, China

2010 Sasekea Harris, Jamaica

Mahmoud Khalifa, Egypt

Elchin Mammadov, Azerbaijan

Catherine Muriuki, Kenya

Sidra Shan, Pakistan

Shao Yan, China

2009 John Kiyaga, Uganda

Ani Minasyan, Armenia

Caleb Ouma, Kenya

Saima Qutab, Pakistan

Raymond Sikanyika, Zambia

Vesna Vuksan, Serbia

2008 Hanan Erhif, Morocco

Atanu Garai, India

Kamal Giri, Nepal

Sarah Kaddu, Uganda

Cyrill Walters, South Africa

2007 Kodjo Atiso, Ghana

Alicia Esguerra, Philippines

Pauline Nicholas, Jamaica

Elisangela Silva, Brazil

Nevena Tomić, Serbia

2006 Maria Cherrie, Trinidad & Tobago

Janete Estevão, Brazil

Festus Ngetich, Kenya

Roman Purici, Moldova

Salmubi, Indonesia

2005 Thomas Bello, Malawi

Xiaoqing Cai, China

Edwar Delgado, Colombia

Lela Nanuashvili, Georgia

Rev. Gillian Wilson, Jamaica

2004 Nayana Wijayasundara, Sri Lanka

MacAnthony Cobblah, Ghana

Musa Olaka, Rwanda

Muhammad Rafiq, Pakistan

2003 Anjali Gulati, India

Ibrahim Ramjaun, Mauritius

Vu Thi Nha, Vietnam

Hyekyong Hwang, Korea

Selenay Aytaç, Turkey

2002 Ferry Iranian, Indonesia

Sibongile Madolo, South Africa

Purity Mwagha, Kenya

J.K. Vijayakumar, India

Dayang Zarina Abang Ismail, Malaysia

2001 Andy Igonor, South Africa

Tuba Akbayturk, Turkey

Smita Chandra, India

Rashidah Bolhassan, Malaysia


The current president of IFLA is Barbara Lison.

IFLA Presidents in time.
In yellow the presidents with a Wikipedia article, in gray without a Wikipedia article. In red female presidents and in green male presidents. Data from August 2019.
List of presidents of the International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions
Name Tenure
Isak Collijn 1927 to 1931
William Warner Bishop 1931 to 1936
Marcel Godet 1936 to 1947
Wilhelm Munthe 1947 to 1951
Pierre Bourgeois 1951 to 1958
Gustav Hofmann 1958 to 1963
Sir Frank Francis 1963 to 1969
Herman Liebaers 1969 to 1974
Preben Kirkegaard 1974 to 1979
Else Granheim 1979 to 1985
Hans-Peter Geh 1985 to 1991
Robert Wedgeworth 1991 to 1997
Christine Deschamps 1997 to 2003
Kay Raseroka 2003 to 2005
Alex Byrne 2005 to 2007
Claudia Lux 2007 to 2009
Ellen Tise 2009 to 2011
Ingrid Parent 2011 to 2013
Sinikka Sipilä 2013 to 2015
Donna Scheeder 2015 to 2017
Gloria Pérez-Salmerón 2017 to 2019
Christine Mackenzie 2019 to 2021
Barbara Lison 2021 to 2023


See also

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