ALIA Blog Article

ALIA Blog: Clare Thorpe at the IFLA Regional Workshop 

Earlier this month, ALIA Vice-President Clare Thorpe attended the IFLA Regional Workshop for Asia Oceania held at the National Library of Thailand in Bangkok. Funding for the trip was provided by IFLA.

Almost 50 delegates representing IFLA Members across the region, members of our Asia-Oceania Regional Division Committee and Preservation and Conservation (PAC) Centres met for three days. Delegates came from 28 countries across Central, East, South and South-East Asia, and Oceania, from Iran, Uzbekistan, and Kazakhstan in the west to Pacific island nations including Fiji, Vanuatu, Guam and the Mariana Islands in the east. Australia was represented by three delegates, Clare representing ALIA, Tanya Riviere from National Library of Australia as the PAC lead, and Jayshree Mamtora who is a member of IFLA’s Regional Division committee for Asia Oceania. The event was also attended by IFLA’s President, Barbara Lison (Germany), IFLA Regional Council Chair Nthabiseng Kotsokoane (South Africa) and IFLA staff from The Netherlands.

The workshop topics included defining and building a sustainable library field in the region, developing advocacy skills to use when meeting with government agencies and funders, and evaluating and demonstrating the impact of libraries. The workshop also provided time for networking and building connections between library leaders across the region.


On day 2, we attended a session at the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia-Pacific (UN ESCAP) headquarters in Bangkok, meeting with and hearing from UNESCO and UNESCAP staff about the UN’s priorities to accelerate development towards the 2020 agenda and Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). I was invited to speak about ALIA’s work progressing the SDGs in Australia, including our 10 stretch targets and national advocacy partnerships with the National Early Language and Literacy Coalition and the Australian Media Literacy Alliance.

The workshop was a valuable opportunity to learn about the sustainable development initiatives being led by libraries and library associations throughout the Asia Oceania region. Delegates shared insights and ideas about opportunities for cross-country collaboration. Delegates also shared common challenges, for example, the challenges of attracting and retaining skilled staff in libraries and the need to provide more training opportunities and career development for para-professional and professional staff.

The workshop provided a reminder that libraries are great running mates for government and non-government funding agencies. We can package information in a way that is accessible to many and makes sense to our communities. However, “library” is not the answer regardless of the question. We need to understand our stakeholders’ problems first then demonstrate how partnering with libraries can contribute to the desired outcomes. We need to get better at understanding the difference between outputs and outcomes and gather evidence to demonstrate how our work changes people’s knowledge, skills, attitudes, behaviours and quality of life.  


Presentations from the event are available from the IFLA repository

Photos from the event are available from IFLA’s Flickr stream.

Read more about the workshop on IFLA news site



Image descriptions:

1: IFLA at UN – photo of all delegates at the UNESCAP headquarters in Bangkok (Photo from IFLA Flickr)

2: IFLA Clare UN – photo of Clare and colleagues speaking at the UN (Photo from IFLA Flickr)

3: IFLA Working group – photo of Clare, IFLA President Barbara Lison and delegates from Indonesia and Malaysia (Photo supplied by Muhammad Irsyad Alfatih)