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It is all about democracy #WLIC

In the next few days I will attend and attend the World Libraries Congress WLIC in Rotterdam. And I will blog a litle from the Congress.

 “A life without books is unlivable.”  Quote Erasmus from Rotterdam.

The congress was opened by Said Kasmi, vice mayor of Rotterdam with this quote from probably the city's most famous philosopher Erasmus. But libraries is much more than books. Thats why the theme for WLIC is "Let's work together, let's library"

I can see that most of the sessions and discussions I will participate in are about democracy and the role of libraries in ensuring free and equal access, developing democracy and ensuring citizens' participation.

We started the conference by meeting the other Nordic countries and their representatives.

A caucus meeting is a meeting of participants from one country or language group (And...in the Nordic countries we speak English together when we are on stage). A range of matters of particular interest to participants from that country or language group will be discussed. Any delegate from a given country or language group may take part in the relevant caucus meeting. 

Panel discussion - The Future of IFLA from a Nordic Perspective
The Presidents of the Nordic library associations in a discussion with Thord Eriksson, editor of Biblioteksbladet, about IFLA and how to address the development after last year's motion "A common basis of values for IFLA", i.e. increased transparency, better communication and a clear standpoint on war and conflict.


Here we participate with one of "our own politicians", the Cultural Mayor from Odense Søren Wendell.

Sources of civic pride. Motors for regeneration and revival. Safety nets for the excluded and unconnected. Gateways to lifelong learning. Civic centres. Palace of the people.

Libraries play a uniquely wide variety of roles in supporting sustainable local development, not least as highlighted in the revised Public Library Manifesto agreed by UNESCO last year.

But what are the hottest topics in local government today, and how can we ensure that libraries maintain or even increase their importance in the eyes of mayors and councils? This session draws on the experience and insights of local government leaders to provide valuable lessons to participants.

There is already a strong understanding in the library field of the importance of engaging with politicians and officials, to ensure that the services we offer are valued and supported. But how is this being received at the national and regional levels? What can we do better?

This session brings together leaders who have underlined their commitment to libraries, and who can offer invaluable insights into how we can make our case most effectively to decision-makers.

Attend this session to hear about the politicians’ perspective on library advocacy, and what opportunities there may be to reach further, more effectively.

Dubai #WLIC2024
The elephant in the room (OR AT THE congress) is Dubai. IFLA announced in June that the World Congress WLIC 2024 will take place in Dubai. After severe criticism of this decision, IFLA decided to held an advisory referendum to know members’ attitude to holding it in Dubai.

The Danish Library Association recommended not to have the congress in Dubai. But the Governing Board has decided to hold next year's congress in Dubai, despite the vote's result, so now we all have to decide whether we want to attend or not. It is a political decision, but there are many indications that Danes will not participate in a congress where the topics are censored.

In principle, DB considers it important for a world organization to hold meetings and congresses in all parts of the world. But it is equally important that IFLA work and meetings should be based on its fundamental values, as they are expressed in the UN Declaration of Human Rights, which are also found in the IFLA’s statutes. It is clearly documented that it does not seem to be possible in the United Arab Emirates.

It is unacceptable if IFLA, the world organization of libraries, holds its annual congress in a country if it means that it prevents the sector from working for goals that defend and work with equal access to information and to promote freedom of expression. It will challenge the debates about gender equality, homosexual rights and democracy in general. It will also be problematic to participate if a democratic conversation on such topics will not be possible, regardless of whether one agrees or disagrees. It will furthermore exclude people with LGBT+ attitudes and backgrounds from participating.

Therefore, we do not find it recommendable to hold WLIC 2024 in Dubai. If IFLA does hold World Congress WLIC 2024 in Dubai, we would strongly urge IFLA and congress organizers to ensure that events and debates are conducted in a way that adheres to IFLA’s founding principles and ensure that no restrictions are placed on topics and debates or who can participate.


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