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IFLA Working Group on the Revision of the Statutes and Rules of Procedure

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65th IFLA Council and General


Bangkok, Thailand, August 20 - August 28, 1999

Item 14 of the Council Agenda

IFLA Working Group on the Revision of the Statutes and Rules of Procedure



More than 20 years have passed since the last time substantial changes to the IFLA Statutes and Rules of Procedure were made. During this time, the world has experienced significant changes in technology, the speed at which changes occur, the need to respond to these changes, and the globalization of the world we live in.

As a result of this new environment and its belief that the International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions retain its effectiveness in such an environment, the IFLA Executive Board established a Working Group on the Revisions of the IFLA Statutes and Rules of Procedure. This was done following the IFLA Conference in Copenhagen in 1997. The Working Group met extensively during the 1998 IFLA Conference, developing both philosophy and recommendations to improve communication and coordination of the Federation's internal and external activities. It presented a draft report to a joint meeting of IFLA's Executive and Professional Boards in early December 1998. Both Boards unanimously supported the direction proposed by the Working Group.

Based on this support, the Working Group is presenting background information and the recommendations to you for discussion at the 1999 IFLA Conference in Bangkok. While formal discussion will occur during a Council meeting, additional opportunities will be provided during the conference for you to share your views with members of the Working Group. By the Conference's conclusion, the Executive Board will ask for a show of the membership's general support of the philosophy and recommendations made by the Working Group. Upon receiving this, the Working Group will continue to develop the recommendations by rewriting the Statutes and Rules of Procedure accordingly.

Warren Horton, Chair
IFLA Working Group on the Revision of the
Statutes and Rules of Procedure

April 1999

  1. Background

    1. The IFLA Working Group on the Revision of the Statutes and Rules of Procedure was established by the Executive Board following the IFLA Copenhagen Conference in 1997.

    2. The membership consists of:
      • Warren Horton, Australia (convenor)
      • Marjorie Bloss, USA
      • Derek Law, United Kingdom
      • Sissel Nilsen, Norway
      • Sally McCallum, USA
      • Carol Henry, IFLA Headquarters

    3. This membership encompasses a wide range of IFLA experience. Warren Horton has been IFLA Treasurer and a member of the Executive Board while also representing the Board at the Professional Board. Marjorie Bloss is a member of the Professional Board. Derek Law is the IFLA Treasurer and a member of the Executive Board, while also representing it at the Professional Board. Sissel Nilsen chairs the Professional Board and as such is ex-officio on the Executive Board. Sally McCallum has also chaired the Professional Board, and as such has been ex-officio on the Executive Board. Carol Henry, Executive Officer, has been on the IFLA Headquarters staff for many years. She brings a wealth of relevant and historical information to the task at hand.

    4. The original intention was that the Working Group report to the Executive Board at the August 1998 IFLA Conference in Amsterdam. However, this would have not allowed the Committee to meet. The timetable was renegotiated to allow a Preliminary Report to be presented at a 1 December 1998 combined meeting of the Executive and Professional Boards.

    5. The opportunity for the Working Group to discuss its thinking with the members of the two Boards was invaluable and appreciated. This Report takes into account the views expressed at the 1 December meeting. The recommendations found in this Report were supported unanimously by members of the Executive and Professional Boards.

    6. There are no specific Terms of Reference for the Working Group's task. Given this, the Group spent some time prior to the Amsterdam Conference considering the nature of the task. It was decided that:
      • The task of revising the Statutes and Rules of Procedure could be as narrow or as broad as the Group wished to make it. From a narrow perspective, it would have embraced technical changes to make the Federation work better while also addressing some known defects in the Statutes and Rules of Procedure. But the Statutes and Rules of Procedure also reflect the philosophical outlook of the Federation and should reflect the realities of the late 1990s. Comments in the various working documents circulated to the Working Group suggest there is a desire to recognize this and take the broadest approach to the task.
      • The present Statutes were adopted in Lausanne in 1976 and the Rules of Procedure in Copenhagen in 1979. Changes since then have been minor and technical in nature. It has been a long time since the Federation looked broadly at them. The Group accepted this as both a challenge and a mandate.
      • The Group thought it also important to take advantage of technological and other opportunities now available to develop the most efficient organization possible and also to maximize opportunities for worldwide participation in the Federation's affairs. It is useful to note the statement in the 'Introduction' to the IFLA Directory 1998-1999 saying in part "Originally, IFLA had a largely European and transatlantic focus as international relations in the world of librarianship tended to be the concern of the Western countries. However, during the years following the Second World War, IFLA progressively broadened its membership base geographically. Today, IFLA is represented in almost 146 countries all over the world."

    7. It was as recently as 1980 in Manila that IFLA first met outside Europe or North America. The present Statutes and Rules of Procedure, adopted in 1976 and 1979, not only predate modern communication technologies but also were based on a Eurocentric perspective.

  2. Who are we, and what do we want to be?

    1. The Working Group decided in the Amsterdam meetings that it should first assess the present state of the organization and what, in principle, it wanted to be. Key issues and priorities can be summarized as follows:
      • The Federation has traditionally seen itself as the worldwide voice of librarianship and open to library associations, institutions and people. The Working Group is unanimously of the view that IFLA should continue to be essentially library-based but also hospitable to information intermediaries. The Group also believes that the combination of associations, institutions and people is central to the future health and growth of the Federation.
      • The Federation is a human organization and the contribution of individuals at all levels is central to its effectiveness and vitality. However its organizational structure does not reflect this and does not give sufficient individuals the opportunity to be involved in its governance and affairs.
      • Nationalism very much inhibits the potential of the Federation to be a truly world wide body, largely due to the present Statutes and Rules of Procedure being based on 1970s thinking. Key issues include:
        • In the present Executive Board provisions, the governing mechanisms make it extremely difficult for people outside the large developed countries who have formed the traditional power blocs in the Federation to be elected. This concentration of power is bad for the organization. It disenfranchises many people who could be of great value in our work. Furthermore, it makes it difficult for the Federation to truly be perceived and operate as a worldwide body;
        • The present voting systems are based upon participation through attendance at biennial Councils and a complex yet narrow proxy system. They, too, act to disenfranchise many of our members. The opportunity exists, through the introduction of new voting systems, which could embrace electronic mechanisms and provisions for controlled campaigning, to democratize the Federation.

    2. The top structure and management of the Federation could be much more effective. This is not to denigrate the remarkable advances that have been made in recent years, especially with the initiative and drive of the last Secretary-General, recent Presidents, and members of the Executive and Professional Boards. Key issues in this include consideration of:
      • The demands upon office bearers in the present structure, especially those in the present four executive offices (President, First Vice-President, Second Vice-President, and Treasurer), and members of the Executive and Professional Boards;
      • The need for dynamism and constant change in leadership, tempered by a balance of experience. This suggests the present six-year cycle for leadership positions is too long;
      • The need to give the members greater opportunity to participate more widely in key leadership positions and to share in the Federation's governance;
      • A clearer definition of the roles and responsibilities of the President as the elected leader of the Federation, and the Secretary-General as its chief executive.

    3. What the Working Group believes has changed and provides the major opportunity for reform of the Federation is the environment in which it lives. Key issues in this include:
      • Opportunities for communication and participation in the Federation's work through the new communications technologies. IFLANET has already done much to improve communication and we have barely begun to explore creative Internet opportunities;
      • The changing and expanding membership of the Federation in recent decades, not only geographically but also culturally;
      • Globalization of many of the issues confronting librarianship;
      • Opportunities for the more effective involvement of people from Asia, Latin America, and Africa, and developing countries.

  3. A new structure for the Federation

    1. The resulting need is for a new structure for the Federation. This should embrace the following principles:
      • The opportunity for wider international involvement from the membership at the policy level;
      • A more democratic electoral system while still recognizing that the Federation rests upon a strong association and institution base;
      • More effective integration of the policy and professional work of the Federation.

  4. The Core Programmes

    The present Core Programmes are an active and valued part of the Federation's activities. Nonetheless, the Working Group identified issues of concern in this mechanism through which we carry out such key responsibilities. In order to determine how best to organize the core concept, a subgroup consisting of four Executive and Professional Board members has been assigned the task. This subgroup consists of:
    • Derek Law, United Kingdom (Executive Board and IFLA Treasurer)
    • Lis Byberg, Norway (Professional Board)
    • Kay Raseroka, Botswana (Executive Board)
    • Winston Tabb, USA (Professional Board)

    They have been advised to base their comments on Recommendations 10 and 11 in this document, and to examine the following concerns when considering the future of the Core Programmes.

    • The changing nature and pace of change in technological and similar activities in the global library infrastructure where ad hoc and task force arrangements may better allow the Federation to handle some key priorities;
    • The opportunity to participate effectively in cross-Government and similar task force arrangements on all continents;
    • The need to establish ongoing mechanisms for regularly reviewing the work of the Core Programmes in terms of their relevance and priorities;
    • More flexible options for Core Programme administrative arrangements, including shared programs between sponsoring national libraries;
    • The need to have active support for Federation activities from national libraries, both individually and through the Conference of Directors of National Libraries (CDNL);
    • The likelihood of little further significant institutional funding support for Core Programme activities as presently structured;
    • The possibility of significant success in attracting funding through participation in government sponsored research programmes, and through sponsorship and other such opportunities, for participation in research activities.

  5. DIVISION 8 (Regional Activities)

    1. Central to the Working Group's discussion has been the future of Division 8 (Regional Activities). This was also the subject of comment in various documents forwarded to the Group. They underlie the importance of the basic philosophical issues the Federation has surrounding Division 8 and its three Regional Activity Centres: the solid support for librarianship in the developing countries.

    2. The Working Group also supports the priority given by the Federation in recent decades to promote libraries and the profession in developing countries. The Group also believes this is seen as being of central importance by the membership at large. It fits well with the ambitions of the Federation to be a truly worldwide professional body. There is much to be proud of in the achievements of recent years, as can be seen by the increased representation from developing countries in the Federation's major leadership bodies.

    3. However, the Working Group strongly believes that Division 8 should be disbanded (see Recommendation 12). The whole thrust of the recommendation for change is for a dynamic and flexible organization that is truly worldwide in its aspirations and governance. The Group stresses that broadened governance mechanisms and new and exciting communication opportunities permit the chance to fully integrate Division 8's activities in the Federation's normal way of working. It can be argued that the existence of Division 8 does not benefit anyone, and the time has passed for such well meant but demeaning special arrangements. The operations of the proposed Governing Board are an important influence in the Working Group's thinking about this matter.
    4. In any case, the present understandings about the regions do not satisfy anyone. There is little in common between them and there are constant disagreements about defining boundaries. It can be argued that the existence of Division 8 often isolates members within a region and diminishes opportunity.

    5. This would not in any way prevent the Federation from continuing to make arrangements to support overall regional objectives and programmes such as offices in various localities. It is also very important that the Federation consciously give priority to encourage wide and geographically balanced representation in the key new governing mechanisms.

  6. Finances

    1. Although the Federation's finances are outside the bounds of the Working Group's mandate, the Group has discussed the consequences in broad terms of what it is proposing. The Group believes that its recommendations are achievable within the boundaries of the Federation's broad financial scope without any major risk.

    2. It is central to the Working Group's thinking that while change has to be balanced with financial realism, the need for change is very important.

    3. We encourage the Federation to work actively with the Conference of Directors of National Libraries (CDNL) to explore new mechanisms for funding support of the Federation's technology and research agenda, including possible new shared funding mechanisms. There are clearly opportunities for new thinking about the ways we work together in the interest of the international community.

  7. Future Action

    1. The Working Group's report largely addresses matters of principle or major governance that would create a more dynamic Federation and better allow it to operate flexibly and as a truly worldwide organization. What the Working Group is suggesting would require some generosity of spirit from many key power blocs in the organization as presently structured. But we believe such goodwill and concern for the Federation's future to be there.

    2. It should be noted that the Working Group considered a whole range of other largely mechanical matters in Amsterdam. Examples are: the number of free Sections as part of association and institutional membership; requirements for nominations by institutions to Standing Committees; terms for officers of Round Tables; the relationship between and among Standing Committees, Round Tables, Discussion Groups, and other groups within the committee structure; and the membership base of Standing Committees. These are not commented on here since they largely affect the next round of tasks.

    3. Assuming there is strong support for these changes in principle at the IFLA Conference in Bangkok, a package of proposals will be prepared for a Council meeting at the IFLA 2000 Conference in Jerusalem. This includes a complete rewrite of the Statutes and Rules of Procedures that would take into account known procedural issues to include those identified in 7.2.


Recommendation 1

That the Council, but meeting annually, continues as the governing body of the Federation.


The annual IFLA Conference is the main opportunity for members of the Federation to meet together and to participate in its affairs. It is therefore appropriate that the Council, but meeting annually, continue as the governing body. Matters of official Council business such as elections or proposed changes to the Statutes and Rules of Procedure will be held every two years. The Executive Board, however, may call for an extraordinary session of the Council "to decide matters which are of extreme importance and on which decision cannot be delayed...". (See Articles 11.3 and 11.4 of the current Statutes and Rules of Procedure.) Hence, the decision to call an extraordinary meeting of the Council next year in Jerusalem.

Recommendation 2

That the present governing mechanisms are replaced by:

  1. A Governing Board of not less than 25 but not more than 30 members responsible for the policy and professional activities of the Federation. That it be elected every two years by the membership by a postal/electronic voting system, with the results declared at the next Council. That the terms of office are for 2 years with the possibility of re-election for one consecutive term of 2 years. That the Governing Board shall meet annually during the IFLA Conference and may meet more frequently as needed;

  2. The Governing Board membership consists of the President and Vice-President (President Elect) who are elected to these positions directly by the membership; a Second Vice-President and Treasurer who are elected by the Governing Board from among its members; 13 Governing Board members elected by the Council; and elected members of the Professional Board representing the IFLA Divisions, and the elected Chair of the Professional Board;

  3. An electoral mechanism based upon a combination of postal/electronic voting, allowing all members of the Federation the opportunity to participate in the electoral process for the Governing Board.

The Governing Board should be actively involved in both the affairs of and policy development for the Federation. Within the current structure, the Executive Board deals more with the administrative affairs of the Federation while the Professional Board deals with the programmatic concerns. There is considerable overlap between the two groups that has been acknowledged during joint Board meetings. Placing the emphasis on one Board dealing with both administrative and programmatic issues will increase the efficiency and effectiveness of the Federation. This in no way eliminates the possible of creating a sub-group responsible for specific programmatic activities (see Recommendation 9). Similarly, a sub-group of the Governing Board will exist as the Federation's Executive Board (see Recommendations 7 and 8).

Increasing the number of members on the Governing Board broadens the effectiveness of the Federation in a number of ways. It provides an opportunity for efficient involvement in the Federation by members from many more countries. It reduces the culture in which "bloc voting" occurs because there are more slots available. It provides the Federation with a more international basis for its concerns and activities.

The Governing Board should be actively involved in the affairs of and policy development for the Federation between meetings through electronic communication and other means. This is the reason for the words "as delegated from the Governing Board" in Recommendation 7.

Recommendation 3

That the present provision for election of a President of the Federation be replaced by a one time only, two-year First Vice-President (President Elect)/two year President model, with the First Vice-President (President Elect) directly elected by the members.


This means that those elected to leadership of the Federation would serve for a maximum of four years, two as First Vice-President followed by two as President, and restricted to one term. This cycle widens opportunities for members to give service to the Federation as President. The flexibility and shorter term will also allow more members to contemplate these senior offices while still balancing work pressures. Such an arrangement also fosters continuity in policy development and leadership.

Recommendation 4

That upon death or resignation in the office of President, the First Vice-President immediately becomes President, and serves out both the President's unexpired term and the term to which he/she has already been elected.

Recommendation 5

That in the case of death or resignation in the office of First-Vice President, the Governing Board shall elect one of its members to fill the unexpired term of office, on the understanding that the person is eligible to stand for First Vice-President in the next election.


These two recommendations are the normal type of transition provisions needed to allow for vacancies resulting from either death while in office or resignation.

Recommendation 6

That all members, including those who have previously served as President or First Vice-President of the Federation, shall be eligible for nomination in the first election under the new Statutes and Rules of Procedure as is found in Recommendation 3. (In other words, current members of the Executive Board, including the current President, are eligible to run for President or First Vice-President in the 2001 election.)

Recommendation 7

That an Executive Committee be established, with executive powers as delegated from the Governing Board, to oversee the operations of the Federation between Board meetings.

Recommendation 8

That membership of the Executive Committee consist of the President, two Vice-Presidents (one of whom would be the President-Elect as voted by the Council), the Treasurer, and two other members of the Governing Board elected every two years by its members.

Recommendation 9

That there be a Professional Committee, a sub-group of the Governing Board for the professional activities of the Federation. A representative from each of IFLA's Divisions and one Chair would be elected as is presently done for the Professional Board. Additional members based on IFLA's core activities would be elected every two years by the Governing Board.


The professional activities of the Federation are central to its vitality and the interests of its members. This recommendation provides for better coordination and communication among those responsible for IFLA's policies and professional activities. It will permit more structured understandings and processes leading to appropriate support for professional activities including those involving developing countries.

The Working Group also noted the establishment in recent years of two strong purpose driven committees of the Federation; the Committee on Copyright and other Legal Matters (CLM); and the Committee on Free Access to Information and Freedom of Expression (FAIFE). Again, these new structured arrangements should better accommodate effective support for their operations.

Recommendation 10

That the Federation should adopt a concept of core activities in redefining key professional priorities, and reviewing the present Core Programmes.

Recommendation 11

That the Governing Board, taking advice from the Professional Committee, should ensure that core activities relate effectively to the Federation's Medium Term Programme (MTP).


See Section 4 for background on Working Group's philosophy for Recommendations 10 and 11.

Recommendation 12

That Division 8 be disbanded as part of the proposed new structural arrangements for the Federation (see Section 5).

Recommendation 13

That the Executive Board should use this Report as the basis for major discussion at the IFLA Conference in Bangkok for reviewing the principles underlying the proposals for major reform in the Federation's Statutes and Rules of Procedure. That the Board take any other action necessary so that the changes can be implemented by the IFLA Annual Conference in Jerusalem in 2000. Such actions may include:

  • Adopting the concept of electronic voting that can go into effect for the 2001 election;
  • Drafting new Statutes and Rules of Procedure reflecting the organizational structure described in this document as well as IFLA's committee structure;
  • Adopting the new structure so that elections for the IFLA President, First Vice-President, and Governing Board can take place during the 2001 IFLA Conference.

6 April 1999


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