11 May 2018
Guardians of the memory of the world! Librarians from the Middle East and North Africa discuss their Global Vision
30 leaders from the library field engaged in the IFLA Global Vision Regional Workshop for the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) on 8 – 10 May, hosted at the National Library of Tunisia. They drew inspiration from the findings of the summary report of the first phase of IFLA’s Global Vision for a strong and globally united library field, and developed ideas on what MENA libraries can do to take part.
Guarding the memory of the world
As underlined in the key finding, while our overall goals and values are shared, the actions required can vary from the local to the global. As a result, each Global Vision Workshop is designed to allow the key issues on the ground to be reflected.
Highlight 9 from the Global Vision Report Summary - We are the guardians of the memory of the world – struck a deep chord across the MENA region. Preserving cultural heritage in the wake of conflicts and disasters, and maximising access to the world's documentary heritage, remain current and real challenges. The discussions that followed generated many stories and ideas for actions.
For IFLA's President-elect Christine Mackenzie, the energy and ideas in the room were impressive:
Everyone should be proud of working in a library because this is where it all started. Libraries have a more important role to play in building societies than any other profession.
MENA manifesto progresses
Collaboration is key to the success of the Global Vision. One year ago, participants at the first Global Vision regional workshop for MENA signed a manifesto establishing stronger cooperation among the libraries in the region. It was exciting to see how the declaration had progressed, with stronger, regular links, and ideas for better joint working. There was particular solidarity with Syria, where hundreds of libraries have been destroyed, with a call on all MENA library associations to share journals with their Syrian colleagues.
An enormous breadth of knowledge
The participants at the meeting, coming from 14 different countries, brought with them 595 collective years of library experience. This understanding and knowledge, as well as energy and passion, gives the library field a unique possibility to shape its own future.
Underlining the importance of the IFLA Global Vision to building a united library field, associations from seven new countries declared that they would join IFLA. As members, they will ensure that the voice of more librarians from Arabic-speaking countries is heard, and will benefit from the support and services IFLA can offer.
IFLA Secretary General Gerald Leitner said:
The united library field is growing stronger. Our participants have not only shared ideas that will help and inspire others, but with seven new member countries, the IFLA family is bigger. I am delighted by what we have achieved, and look forward to working for, and with, our new members. We are well on the way to creating a stronger global voice for libraries.
The IFLA Global Vision began in 2017 to tackle the challenges facing the library field from ever-increasing globalisation. There has never been such an initiative before, which gives every single librarian in the world the chance to contribute. Now, in 2018 we're taking the Global Vision around the world once again, this time to collect ideas for actions to turn the vision into reality.
With MENA's ideas carefully recorded, IFLA Global Vision now says "Bonjour!" as it heads to Paris, France on 14 – 16 May for Europe's Regional Workshop.
View all photos from the MENA regional workshop in our Flickr album