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International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions (IFLA)

1. Introduction: The International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions (IFLA) is an independent association that represents libraries and library associations around the world. At an international conference of librarians and booklovers in Prague in 1926 a proposal to set up an international committee with representatives of national library associations was accepted. This was acted upon during the British Library Association conference in Edinburgh, Scotland on 30 September, 1927, when an international library and bibliographic committee was created by the representative associations from fifteen countries. IFLA was registered in the Netherlands in 1971. The name was changed to International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions in 1976. Its headquarter is located at The Royal Library, the National Library of the Netherlands, in The Hague. IFLA’s website, formerly known as IFLANET is available over web at (

2. Aims and Objectives: The federation is an independent non-governmental and non profit making professional organization. In 2004, the Governing Board decided to endorse a new model for IFLA's operations, the three pillars that are supported by the infrastructure offered by the Federation's governance structures, its website and its Headquarters (HQ) in The Hague. These three pillars are- Society Pillar, Professional Pillar, and the Members’ Pillar.

a) The Society Pillar: It focuses on the role and impact of libraries and information services in society and the contextual issues that condition and constrain the environment in which they operate across the world. Those issues are addressed currently through FAIFE, CLM, Blue Shield, and the advocacy in the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) and other arenas.

b) The Profession Pillar: It focuses on the issues covered by the long established Core Activities - ALP, ICADS (webmaster: formerly known as ICABS), PAC, UNIMARC - and the Sections and Divisions. They lie at the core of our professional practice and help libraries and information services to fulfil their purposes and to shape responses to the needs of the clients in a rapidly changing global environment.

c) The Members Pillar: It is of course central to IFLA. It includes the services they offer to members, management of their membership of IFLA, conferences and publications. We must work together to make IFLA more vibrant and attractive and beneficial for members throughout the world.

The aims of IFLA are to:
i) Promote high standards of provision and delivery of library and information services;
ii) Encourage widespread understanding of the value of good library & information services;
iii) Represent the interests of the members throughout the world.

3. Organization: The governing structure of IFLA has been revised and came into force in 2001. The General Council of Members is the supreme governing body, consisting of delegates of voting Members. It normally meets every year during the annual conference. The Governing Board is responsible for the managerial and professional direction of IFLA within guidelines approved by Council. The Governing Board meets at least twice every year, once at the time and place of the annual World Library and Information Congress. The Executive Committee has executive responsibility delegated by the Governing Board to oversee the direction of IFLA between meetings of this Board within the policies established by the Board. It is the duty of the Professional Committee to ensure coordination of the work of all the IFLA units responsible for professional activities, policies and programmes (Sections, Core Activities, Special Interest Groups).

4. Membership: Till 2014, IFLA have 1500 Members approximately in 150 countries around the world. IFLA has two main categories of voting members: Association Members and Institutional Members. Besides these, it has also Honorary Members (Honorary Presidents, Honorary Fellows, IFLA Medal). Over the years the membership has been expanded to include individual libraries, library schools and other appropriate institutions as well as personal affiliates.

5. Functions and Activities: The issues common to library and information services around the world are the concern of the IFLA Core Activities. The objectives and projects of the Core Activities relate to the Federation's Programme and the priorities of the Divisions and Sections are directed by the Professional Committee. Some of the major core programmes are given below.

a) Action for Development through Libraries Programme (ALP): The ALP Programme was launched in 1984 at the IFLA Conference in Nairobi, Kenya, and was the subject of intensive discussion between 1987 and 1989. It was further developed and defined during 1990 and 1991 as a special project and is fully operational ever since. The name of the Programme was originally "Advancement of Librarianship Programme", but in 2004 it was changed to "Action for Development through Libraries Programme". However, the acronym still remains as "ALP". The mission of ALP is to further the library profession, library institutions and library and information services in the developing countries of Africa, Asia and Oceania, Latin America and the Caribbean.

b) Preservation and Conservation (PAC): IFLA Core Activity on Preservation and Conservation (PAC) was officially created during the IFLA annual conference in Nairobi in 1984 to focus efforts on issues of preservation and to initiate worldwide cooperation for the preservation of library materials. The PAC programme was effectively launched in Vienna during the 1986 Conference on the Preservation of Library Materials co-organized by the Conference of the Directors of National Libraries, IFLA and UNESCO.

c) IFLA-CDNL Alliance for Digital Strategies (ICADS): ICADS is a joint alliance of IFLA and the Conference of Directors of National Libraries (CDNL). The alliance was established in August 2008 as a successor to ICABS (IFLA-CDNL Alliance for Bibliographic Standards) which was established as a national libraries initiative in 2003.

d) International Standard Bibliographic Description (ISBD): In 1961, at the International Conference on Cataloguing Principles held in Paris, stress was laid on the need of standardization in bibliographic description. To solve the problem, International Meeting on Cataloguing Expert (ICME) was sponsored by IFLA and held in Copenhagen in 1969. The meeting formed a committee to study the problem of standardization in bibliographic description. The committee submitted its report at a meeting held in Liverpool in 1971 which is known as International Standard Bibliographic Description (Monograph) {ISBD (M)}.

e) Universal Machine Readable Catalogue (UNIMARC): There emerged a number of standard bibliographic record formats such as UKMARC, INTERMARC, USMARC, etc whose paths diverged owing to different national cataloguing practices and requirements. Recognizing that there is a need for the establishment of international format for the exchange of bibliographic data, IFLA, the section on cataloguing and mechanization, took the initiative to develop international MARC format which would accept the record created in any MARC format. As a result, the first version of Universal Machine Readable Catalogue (UNIMARC) appeared for monograph and serial in 1977 to facilitate the international exchange of bibliographic data in machine readable form. UNIMARC follows the ISO communication format ISO-2709 (1981). Succeeding to the IFLA UBCIM Core Activity, the IFLA UNIMARC Core Activity (UCA) was established in 2003 with the responsibility for the maintenance and development of the Universal MARC format (UNIMARC).

f) Standardization: IFLA has standardized international loan request form in 1935 and has been progressively revising it since then. IFLA developed and published in 1974 the International Standard Bibliographic Description for Monographic Publication [ISBD (M)] as the basis for  rules of description of monographic material in AACR-II. In 1975 IFLA and the Joint Steering Committee for the revision of AACR - (JSC/AACR) jointly developed General International Standard Bibliographic Description [ISBD (G)]. It serves as a framework for the description of all types of publication.

g) Seminars, Conference and Workshop: IFLA regularly holds “World Library and Information Congress: IFLA General Conference and Assembly” and Regional Meetings. IFLA’s general conferences are large-scale conference. In 1961 IFLA holds the international conference on cataloguing principles in Paris.

h) Fellowships, Funds and Grants: IFLA administers a number of Grants and Scholarships to enable the aspiring library and information professionals from all over the world to enhance their training and to provide funding for new and exciting projects in the field of librarianship. Such programmes include Guust Van Wesemael Literacy Prize, IFLA International Marketing Award, Jay Jordan IFLA/OCLC Early Career Development Fellowship, Margreet Wijnstroom Fund, Dr Shawky Salem Conference Grant (SSCG), etc.

i) Cooperation: IFLA has Formal Associate Relations with United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), observer status with the United Nations, associate status with the International Council of Scientific Unions (ICSU) and observer status with the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) and the International Organization for Standardization (ISO). In 1999, it established observer status with the World Trade Organization (WTO).  It has also offered consultative status to a number of non-governmental organizations operating in related fields, including the International Publishers Association (IPA). It is also a member of the International Council on Archives (ICA), International Council of Museums (ICOM), the International Council on Monuments and Sites (ICOMOS), and the International Committee of the Blue Shield (ICBS). Again, till 2009 more than 25 corporations in the information industry have formed a working relationship with IFLA under its Corporate Partners scheme.

j) Mailing Lists and Forum: Sympa software provides web access to IFLA’s lot of mailing lists. IFLA also serves as an international forum for librarians and advises international bodies relating to library and information science. It provides expert advice and assistance in the planning and development of library services.

k) Publication: Each issue of IFLA Journal (Quarterly) covers news of current IFLA activities and articles selected to reflect the variety of the international information profession ranging from freedom of information, preservation, services to the visually impaired and intellectual property.
Council Report (biennial) records IFLA's achievements in five key areas: access to information, the electronic environment, preservation and conservation, services and standards and professional development. The IFLA publications series include such titles as Intelligent library buildings, and adapting marketing to libraries in a changing worldwide environment. The IFLA Professional Reports series feature reports of professional meetings and guidelines to best practice. Recent reports include Proceedings of the IFLA/UNESCO pre-conference seminar on public libraries and Guidelines for easy-to-read materials.

Besides the above, many IFLA groups (Divisions, Core Activities, Sections and Special Interest Groups) have their own newsletters. Some are produced regularly, others only appear sporadically. Each year the proceedings of the World Library and Information Congress, IFLA General Conference and Assembly are made available on the IFLA website. It also publishes International Cataloguing and Bibliographic Control (ICBC) Journal, IFLA Directory, International cataloguing, world directory of administrative libraries, world directory of map collection, LIBRI- Library journal.

IFLA’s previous programme includes Universal Bibliographic Control (UBC) launched in 1973, International MARC Programme (IMP) established officially in 1983, Universal Availability of Publication (UAP) taken up in 1973, etc.

6. Conclusion: IFLA advises libraries on matters such as interlibrary loan practices, copyright laws, library building design, and development of legal deposit regulations that entitle national libraries to receive copies of every work registered for copyright in their respective countries. It also stimulates cooperation among writers, scholars, publishers, and libraries, and it assists librarians in promoting literacy and universal access to knowledge. In addition, IFLA advocates the formation of a worldwide information network.

India is represented in the Executive Board of IFLA. In October, 1985 Indian Library Association (ILA) organised the IFLA’s regional seminar on Universal Availability of Publication (UAP) in New Delhi. Indian Library Association (ILA) also hosted 58th General Conference of IFLA in New Delhi from August 30-Septermber 5, 1992.

How to Cite this Article?
APA Citation, 7th Ed.:  Barman, B. (2020). A comprehensive book on Library and Information Science. New Publications.
Chicago 16th Ed.:  Barman, Badan. A Comprehensive Book on Library and Information Science. Guwahati: New Publications, 2020.
MLA Citation 8th Ed:  Barman, Badan. A Comprehensive Book on Library and Information Science. New Publications, 2020.

Badan BarmanDr. Badan Barman at present working as an Assistant Professor in the Department of Library and Information Science, Gauhati University, Guwahati-781014, Assam, India. He is the creator of the LIS Links ( - India’s most popular social networking website for Library and Information Science professionals. He also created the Open Access Journals Search Engine (OAJSE) (, UGC NET Guide (, Assam Archive ( and LIS Study ( website.

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