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CDNLAO Newsletter

No. 86, May 2016

Special topic: CDNLAO Meeting

IFLA Regional Office (Asia & Oceania) – International Collaboration in the Region and How to Contribute

By Ms Tai Ai Cheng, Deputy Chief Executive & Chief Librarian &, National Board of Singapore


1. Introduction

At the Conference of Directors of National Libraries of Asia and Oceania (CDNLAO) annual meeting hosted by the National Library of New Zealand, from 8 to 11 March 2016, Ms. Tay Ai Cheng, Deputy Chief Executive and Chief Librarian of the National Library Board (NLB) of Singapore, presented on the roles of the International Federation of Library Associations (IFLA) Regional Office for Asia & Oceania, with the focus on International Collaboration in the Region.

2. Overview of the roles of IFLA Regional Office for Asia and Oceania – The 3Cs

The IFLA Regional Office for Asia and Oceania serves the largest region with the most number of member countries, with much differing library situations and levels of development. As of Dec 2015, the IFLA membership base is 182 members and 34 member countries in Asia; and 82 members and 5 member countries in Oceania.

The IFLA Regional Office is responsible for three major roles, namely, the 3Cs, which are critical to achieving its overarching mission: to serve and represent the interests of IFLA members in the region:

3Cs Roles of IFLA Regional Office for Asia and Oceania
  • Link IFLA Headquarters (HQ) with strategic key players and events to raise IFLA’s profile and work in the region
  • Work with IFLA Regional Standing Committee for Asia and Oceania (RSCAO), to keep abreast of development and assist with the implementation of activities in the region
  • Assist libraries with any information on the region pertaining to libraries
  • Network with organisations and agencies to assist with IFLA plans e.g. Red Cross, Blue Shield, ASEAN Committee for Culture and Information (COCI), etc.
  • Organise Regional IFLA events to advance IFLA’s strategic initiatives and directions
  • Communicate IFLA plans and initiatives with the region, and vice-versa
  • Evaluate country capability development proposals before submission to IFLA HQ and provide IFLA HQ with intel from Region perspective

3. Recent Activities

In recent years, the IFLA Regional Office for Asia and Oceania has actively planned and implemented a series of activities and programmes that focused on Library Advocacy and Knowledge Exchange and Capability Development in the region.

3.1. Library Advocacy

The following shows a list of library advocacy activities carried out in the past two years, focusing on advocating and lobbying for greater national support for libraries by positioning libraries as an integral part to the sustainable development of economies and countries.

3.1.1. Signatures for Lyon Declaration [Importance of Libraries in Developing Countries]

Advocated for countries to have their local governments and organisations support the declaration as an instrument to lobby for inclusion of libraries in the UN’s 2016 – 2030 Sustainable Development Plan.

3.1.2. Inclusion in World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO) Treaty Statement

Communicated with the Asia and Oceania Countries’ national associations/ organisations to work with their Intellectual Property Offices and provide examples of limitations to copyright for current needs and propose changes to the current WIPO treaty statement. Worked to get inputs and comments from Libraries’ perspective on copyrights and intellectual property policies.

3.1.3. Networking at Asia Pacific Regional Internet Governance Forum

Participation at “The Asia Pacific Regional Internet Governance Forum (APrIGIF) 2014” held in Greater Noida, India. To get updates on topics discussed and networked with relevant parties.

3.1.4. Provided inputs to United Nations 2030 Sustainable Development Goals (UN2030 SDGs) IFLA Toolkit

Provided inputs on areas to feature and also how to help countries carry out advocacy work.

3.1.5. Held discussion with Library Regional Reps on International Advocacy Program (IAP)

The International Advocacy Programme (IAP) was first announced at the IFLA Congress in Lyon in August 2014 and would run until August 2018.

IFLA IAP aims to achieve policy change at national, regional and international levels by building capacity across IFLA and library communities to assess policy needs, create policy recommendations, and advocate policy frameworks that support public access to digital information through public libraries. The IAP programme will continue to benefit the library community beyond the lifespan of the funded project through sustainable projects, research, and contributions to IFLA’s international advocacy agenda.

A discussion on IAP was held at the RSCAO Mid-Term Meeting held in Tokyo, 8-11 February 2015. Members shared what their libraries were doing in the area of IAP and the challenges they faced.

< Photos of the RSCAO Mid-Term Meeting held in Tokyo, 8-11 February 2015. >

The 2016 IFLA RSCAO Mid-term Meeting and Seminar was held in Singapore, hosted by NLB Singapore, from 16 to 18 February 2016. Ms. Helen Mandl, Manager of Member Services, IFLA HQ, briefed RSCAO members on a number of IFLA activities, including an update on UN 2030 Agenda and the call for national level advocacy as well as the use of the national advocacy toolkit.

< Group photo of RSCAO members with Mrs. Elaine Ng, Chief Executive, NLB Singapore,
taken during the mid-term meeting in Feb 2016, Singapore. >

< Photo of RSCAO members at the visit to the library at the
Nanyang Technological University (NTU), Feb 2016, Singapore. >

3.2. Knowledge Exchange and Capability Development

In the pursuit of capability development of librarianship, the IFLA Regional Office for Asia and Oceania has been actively promoting and supporting a number of Building Strong Library Associations (BSLA) workshops and related skills training for librarians in the region. A summary of BSLA projects from 2013-2016 is provided in the following section. More details can be found in this link:

  • Brunei – Leadership Workshop for young promising librarians to build stronger library associations in ASEAN Countries.
  • Indonesia – Strengthening APISI (School Library Association) as a professional organisation by developing its strategic planning in Indonesia’s province.
  • Malaysia – Training librarians to be trainer of information literacy programmes to teacher-librarians.
  • Philippines – ASEAN Integration: Cross Border Mobility of Librarians.
  • Pacific Islands – Developing a three-year strategic plan for the PIALA Association.
  • Sri Lanka – Establishment of professional ethics culture among Library & Information Professionals.

The latest BSLA programme was in Myanmar from 25-27 Jan 2016, Yangon, with the theme of Partnership, Library & Collaboration. Details are available at

< Photo of BLSA workshop participants, with Secretary General of IFLA, Ms Jennefer Nicholson,
in Yangon, Myanmar, 25-27 Jan 2016. >

In addition to advocacy, training and capability building activities, the Regional Office was involved in a number of library development and re-building work. For instance, the Regional Office appealed to Blue Cross (Singapore) to help in re-building libraries in Myanmar and Japan, which were disaster-stricken.

In 2014, together with the Library Association of Singapore, National Library of Myanmar and the Library Association of Myanmar, the Regional Office planned and coordinated the donation of 50,000 library books from Singapore libraries to libraries in Myanmar.

In the following year, the Regional Office aided Jaffna Public Library in Sri Lanka in areas like such as the setting up of a youth corner and the fitting out of a mobile library. There were also workshops on English Language competency for librarians.

4. IFLA Regional Office for Asia and Oceania Workplans for 2016

2016 will be a busy year for the Asia and Oceania IFLA Regional Office as a number of projects and activities have been mapped out, in support of the key initiatives of IFLA. Here’s a highlight of some major projects for 2016.

4.1. Support the Strengthening of IFLA’s regional capacity and leadership

4.1.1. Survey of Library Associations on Capability Development of Library Professionals

Environment Scan and Stocktake of Library Associations (LAs) with the specific purpose of answering the question “Are LAs equipped to lead the profession to advocate for capability development and library development to be future-ready.”

The environment scan will be carried out via a survey which includes a section to find out about the risk levels or preservation efforts for countries’ heritage content/national treasures.

The survey period will be from March to July 2016. The survey findings will be reported to IFLA HQ in August 2016.

4.1.2. BSLA Programme

Manage the BSLA programme which involves tasks such as:

  • Evaluate and value-add to proposals for approval submission
  • Call for new projects and follow-up on existing ones
  • Identify trainers

A BSLA Global Meeting will take place in Philippines from 29 May 2016 to 2 June 2016 so as to:

  • Review and celebrate the outcomes and impact of the programme and projects from 2013 onwards.
  • Support networking between associations and activities to sustain collaboration after participating in BSLA.
  • Raise awareness about trends and factors that will influence the role of associations and potential for advocacy in the future.
  • Review the programme over its lifespan to develop a future strategy and linkages with other IFLA Programmes.

The outcome is to plan for future BSLA projects, focusing on collaboration opportunities between associations, both at the regional and national levels.

4.1.3. Development of Trainers & Training Modules for BSLA and IAP
  • Building a pool of quality trainers
  • Understanding funding availability
  • Developing a train-a-trainer model
  • Marketing and recruitment drive
  • Develop new course wares
  • Create a deployment schedule
  • Develop a trainer benefit scheme

4.2. Increase participation of the public library sector in national, regional and international representation

Develop a marketing plan to inform all countries about the efforts and role of the IFLA Regional Office. The Regional Office will build a comprehensive database and establish good connections with the library network in the region.

Immediate tasks are:
To develop a communications plan, with the introductory note on the Regional Office’s roles and contact points, which will be sent out with the environmental scan survey.

This is followed-up by regular updates and milestone alerts to country members.

There will be regular diplomatic meetings, with a major meeting in August 2016, when the Office will share its communication plans with country members at the Regional Caucus (to be held during the IFLA World Library & Information Congress (WLIC) 2016).

4.3. Support library advocacy efforts

Come August 2016, the Regional Office will discuss with the Congress of Southeast Asian Librarians (CONSAL) members about library programmes and activities to promote and celebrate the 50th Anniversary of ASEAN in 2017.

Examples of work to be coordinated by the Regional Office for greater awareness and promotion of ASEAN (activities, history and heritage) are:

  • Public programmes in libraries
  • Screening of films from ASEAN in libraries

Launch of the ASEAN Digital Library (a metadata sharing and aggregation project undertaken by the National Libraries of ASEAN nations so that the rich online heritage collections of these libraries are discoverable via one single platform).

5. Workshop: How to Contribute?

The presentation was followed by a workshop where CDNLAO meeting members, in their breakout groups, were tasked to answer three questions:

  1. How can you contribute to the region?
  2. How can you contribute to IFLA and the Regional Office?
  3. How can IFLA and the Regional Office help you?

< CDNLAO Annual Meeting at the National Library of New Zealand, 8-11 March 2016, Wellington, New Zealand. >

Through active brainstorming and engaging discussions, the groups came up with good ideas on how they could support library development and be a strong library advocator in the region.

For instance, the National Diet Library of Japan suggested two areas in which it could contribute to library developments in the region: sharing of experiences in disaster recovery and training in preservation techniques through the IFLA/PAC Regional Centre for Asia.

Many CDNLAO members (such as National Library of China and National Library of Vietnam) offered translation services to help translate important IFLA papers, standards or guidelines on libraries (such as the IFLA Trends Report) into the respective country language.

CDNLAO member libraries (such as the National Library of Australia and National Library of New Zealand) with internal experts were keen to share their experience and best practices at IFLA regional meetings or support the Regional Office in training works on national advocacy, information literacy and librarianship, etc. The National Library of Korea identified training in library services for children and young adults as an area it could contribute in.

< Examples of ideas generated during the workshop at CDNLAO meeting. >

As for the final question of “how the Regional Office can contribute to libraries in Asia and Oceania,” the key areas were:

  • Provide funding for library associations’ activities, especially in the area of skills training. Facilitate staff exchange programme and offer sponsorship of membership fees.
  • Provide support to library associations through the BSLA programme.
  • Direct and guide libraries in political engagement so that libraries are seen by the local government as strategic and essential drivers for sustainable development and growth for the individual countries.
  • Risk register – help libraries to document and preserve their rare materials that are at risk due to the local climatic conditions, the lack of proper storage and knowledge to handle such materials and risk of destruction by natural disasters.
  • Help in disaster management and recovery training as the region is a disaster prone area.

In conclusion, the contributions and recommendations made at the CDNLAO meeting served as a preamble to the detailed regional library survey that will be concluded in the coming months. They are valuable insights which would be analysed jointly with the survey findings and presented in the final report to IFLA HQ in August 2016.

< Group photo of members of the CDNLAO Annual Meeting, 8-11 March 2016, Wellington, New Zealand. >

Copyright (C) 2016 National Library Board of Singapore