The Director of the South African Library for the Blind attended the annual conference of the International Federation of Library Associations (IFLA) Conference in Wroclaw, Poland during August 2017. The conference was attended by more than 3,000 delegates from 122 countries.
The SALB is a member of the IFLA Section for Libraries Serving People with Print Disabilities (LPD) and attended two meetings.
IFLA is planning to develop Guidelines re the Marrakesh Treaty to assist Librarians to understand the contents and implications of the treaty and to guide on how to promote the ratification of it in their countries.
The LPD Section also hosted a session during the official conference program under the title: Marrakesh – The Road to Implementation. 31 countries already ratified with 7 from Africa. In some countries, the thinking is to first address local Copyright Legislation before ratifying the Treaty – South Africa is following this approach.
The big topic during the conference was IFLA’s Global Vision for Libraries. IFLA members were requested to submit their views on what the core values of libraries should be; what the main challenges are to libraries; the characteristics of a united library field, etc. IFLA will consolidate all the inputs received and develop an International strategy in response to all the questions.
The IFLA Conference program covered a vast array of library types, services and initiatives from the level of policy to practice. 247 sessions were on the program during the 6 days of the Conference. Some of the interesting presentations were about reading programs for children in hospitals and how that is assisting the child and parents; the Dutch Tax Authority is using Public Libraries to assist people in person with tax related matter. Polish speakers shared an interesting initiative in Poland to promote the culture of reading where adults read stories to children aloud. A paper on measuring the impact of library services highlighted the importance of engaging with users to determine how essential they are to the community they serve.
The IFLA Conference is the only venue where various Libraries serving blind people meet to discuss joint programs, plans and related initiatives. The opportunity to share thoughts with international counterparts on topics such technology, production, services and various other initiatives are invaluable. Our participation in the meetings is also valued by our international counterparts because of the perspective we add from a developing country.