During the 73rd annual conference of IFLA in Durban, South Africa in 2007, the BA signed an agreement with the federation to establish a new center for Arabic Speaking Libraries and Information Institutions at the Bibliotheca Alexandrina. The Center represents IFLA in the Arabic language community and aims to become the bridge between IFLA and all Arab libraries.
We hope the new center will be an effective link between all participating IFLA libraries and the Arab world and a voice for the Arabic speaking library community in this international association. The center aims to find the ways and means for Arabic Speaking librarians to become more visible not only in their own organizations, but also in their communities, states and on the international level.
Libraries are not only learning organizations, but also social organizations that include all people in our communities, and play a major role in social movement and the advancement of our society. Some of the most profound changes in our world have come about as a result of efforts in the form of social movements. These movements often germinated in the minds of a few people who rose up for a cause, then blossomed into mass mobilizations that have ended up bringing major changes in the world. This is the power of the movements - what people without access to power cannot accomplish alone, they can accomplish together through collective action. The idea behind this center is to motivate and mobilize collective professional thoughts that would eventually lead to the transformation of the libraries throughout the Arabic speaking world and, in turn, pass on this transformation to their societies.
All the library professionals are encouraged to become members and to join IFLA and the center’s professional activities to voice their opinion, give suggestions, and to become active citizens in our world.
The center started its activities in October 2007 by developing a database of Arab libraries and librarians and has been working on publicizing IFLA activities. The tasks performed to reach the aims of this center cover translating important documents, declarations, standards and calls for papers for annual conferences, thus keeping Arab libraries updated with the latest news and trends in libraries and the information profession, and bringing Arab speaking librarians together through conferences and workshops to discuss issues of specific interest to the region.
In October 2008, the new center will host its first conference for Arabic Speaking Libraries, entitled Role of Libraries in Freedom of Expression, Tolerance, and Access to Information.
In order to increase the access and participation of Arab speaking librarians, we took the initiative to provide Simultaneous Interpreters at the IFLA conference to be held in Quebec, Canada during the period of 10-14 August 2008. Furthermore, we shall have our on-site translators who will translate some of the presentations delivered during the conference, including the IFLA Express which will be updated regularly with all announcements and news concerning the conference.
Though the center is quite new, it has been receiving numerous inquiries from Arab librarians requesting information on a variety of technical and professional information. The staff of the center will spare no effort in assisting our colleagues in a prompt and efficient manner.
We hope to offer through The IFLA Center for Arabic Speaking Libraries a platform that facilitates the development of libraries across different sectors throughout the region and benefit our communities and humanity at large.