ALA International Relations Planning Document 2000-2005

August 31, 2001

The American Library Association's International Relations Planning Document reflects the association's commitment to the development of libraries everywhere and guides its work in global librarianship. With transborder cooperation to improve services in local library communities steadily increasing, it is clear that open access to information worldwide must be one of the ALA's fundamental values. A strong record of achievement in the United States positions the association to expand its commitments and its influence by cooperating with organizations and librarians everywhere. This is a living document that is updated and revised as needed.

Guiding Principles

Among guiding principles in establishing an international agenda are:

Information is a public good and international trends towards increased privatization and restrictions impact access to information worldwide.

Local economies are increasingly international.

Regional and international agreements are decreasing the visibility of political borders.

Technology has diminished problems of distance and has significantly reduced the impact of differences in time but there is a growing gap between populations with access to information and technology and those without such access, within countries and between countries.

The world is shrinking and international cooperation is an important aspect of many professions.

International agreements and actions increasingly affect U.S. laws, regulations, legislative actions, information policy, and information access.

Library problems have great commonality across nations.

The role of the library in connecting individuals to information is a value widely held throughout the world.

The library's role in promoting the education of society, preserving its cultures, supporting economic growth and advancement, safeguarding and disseminating the world's information heritage and protecting free access to information and freedom of expression is essential for the global, transborder, multicultural society of the 21st century.

U.S. libraries serve clienteles that grow more diverse each year.

An International Relations Planning Document 2001-2005

In keeping with these principles and in pursuance of the key areas identified in ALAction 2005, the American Library Association will pursue greater communication, understanding, cooperation, and involvement in the global library and information community by emphasizing international awareness in the organization and among its members and by improving its effectiveness and reach in the international arena.

1) An Internationally Aware Organization

·Understands the importance of participating in international library activities and emphasizes to its divisions and units the significance and relevance of doing so.

· Develops programs and services with an international audience in mind, and generates materials, publications, and products that reflect a global approach to librarianship.

· Makes cross-cultural awareness training available to its leadership and staff.

· Maintains a history of its international involvement and programmatic activity.

· Stresses the underlying professional content of international issues and addresses geopolitical considerations in a framework of ALA policy and with a spirit of cooperation and with local organizations and individuals.

· Promotes involvement by all types of libraries in international activity.

·Pursues internationally focused partnerships with other U.S. library associations and with those in Canada and Mexico.

· Leads in the planning for the IFLA 2001 conference.

· Seeks funding for international activities from corporate, governmental, foundation, non-governmental organization, international agency, and private sources, and through member contributions.

· Promotes the value and benefit to a library's program of participation by its staff in internationally related events and encourages institutional support for librarians involved in international activities.

· Solicits increased membership from abroad and enables a greater international presence at conferences and meetings.

2) An Effective and Far Reaching International Library Program

· Implements a framework for establishing priorities and for guiding association decision-making regarding international issues.

· Provides leadership in the international arena in those areas where U.S. librarianship is particularly strong such as freedom of access to information and equity of access, information technology, reference service, and bibliography.

· Makes available to countries interested in assistance, the professional expertise of its membership.

· Fosters collaboration with international and regional organizations with which it shares interests.

· Promotes strong cooperation among libraries worldwide.

· Provides to members engaged in international activities on behalf of the association clear guidelines, standards, and procedures.

· Assures selection of highly qualified individuals to carry its views to the international arena and prepares these representatives to present its views authoritatively and in the most appropriate and culturally sensitive way.

· Works with foundations, U.S. government agencies, and other organizations interested in international library and information issues to leverage resources devoted to international programming.

· Promotes awareness of international populations represented in the profession and those being served by U.S. Libraries.

· Is an influential force in areas of international importance such as copyright law and the development of standards through work with IFLA and other library and educational organizations and various independent entities.

Pursues active, meaningful, and effective relationships with IFLA and U.S. IFLA committees to advance the cause of libraries and librarianship worldwide.

Advocates appropriate technological development and freedom of access to information world-wide and fights against privatization of government and other public information.

3) To Develop an Internationally Aware and Involved Membership the American Library Association will:

· Support the work of the ALA International Relations Office, which serves the international committees of the ALA and its divisions, ALA Round Tables, other library associations in the U.S. and abroad, as well as related professional, government, and charitable groups.

· Publicize activities, events and library-related stories from other countries and highlight U.S. library projects ongoing in other countries.

· Identify opportunities for exchange programs, publicize their availability, and facilitate connections between U.S. and international librarians.

. Link libraries through its "sister libraries" program and highlight models of successful matches.

· Use an equitable and understandable selection process for involvement by members in international activity.

· Provide training in local customs and protocol for its official representatives to international events.

· Promote increased involvement by international members in its programming and committee work through encouragement of their attendance at meetings and through electronic communication.

· Offer opportunities at its conferences for U.S. librarians to meet and interact with their international colleagues.

· Foster American involvement in professional meetings in other countries.

· Bring librarians to the United States and send U.S. librarians abroad, using scholarships, grant programs, and exchanges, to mutually enrich professional lives and to share professional expertise.

· Provide a wide range of opportunity for its members to become involved in international work.

· Promote the "international" at home by pursuing multiculturalism. diversity, and service to new immigrant populations in the U.S.


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ALA International Relations Planning Document 2000-2005