Our Vision, Our Future: Iranian Approach to Global Vision


Saleh Zamani | For every librarian, IFLA is a household name and a great opportunity for sharing ideas, experiences, and best practices. Iranian librarians have for long been involved in this great global forum and have been active, in different ways and through a wide range of efforts, to contribute to the promotion of librarianship science across the world. I take this opportunity to present a brief review of the current challenges and opportunities before Iran’s librarianship, especially from the vantage point of the IFLA Global Vision. I should mention that from the very inception of the discussion on the Vision, Iran has been actively engaged in the process and has also been among the leading countries in the region to take the necessary measures towards implementing it. The visit to Iran last year by IFLA President, Gloria Pérez-Salmerón, helped the process and expedited our efforts in a number of ways. As a first step, we tried to familiarize ourselves with the terms and concepts of the Vison. The Singapore Workshop last year served that purpose. In the second step, we tried to engage, as much as possible, our librarians in NLAI. As things stand now, we are in a position to move, actively and forcefully, in the direction of implementing the Vision in its finalized version. Let me just lay out, in broad terms, the steps we have in mind to take with respect to the specific objectives and various provisions of the Vision.
1. The first area of our prospective activities relates to the essential steps needed with regard to digital innovations. This requires, among others, reform and improvement in the technical infrastructure in place as well as in the current methodologies of the digital system. To this end, we have started exchange of views with UNESCO and a number of other national libraries, and hope to be able to create a link between Blockchain technology and digitalization. Establishment of a wide network premised on and supported by digital innovations will facilitate public access to information, and a consequence, to promoting digital democracy.
2. We are determined to adopt and implement the necessary measures to lay the groundwork for free, equal access to information. It has to be admitted, however, that most Iranian librarians need further education with respect to this critical principle in the Vision, with specific emphasis on developing a stronger sense of social responsibility, as reflected in thinking beyond one’s library and being able to connect with the larger society. We have devised programs and measures for the purpose, and we are determined to carry them out to the best of our capabilities. That is, of course, only part of a larger effort within the Iranian society towards strengthening the public sphere and civil society, with all its intrinsic and inevitable difficulties and challenges along the way.
3. Reform of the methodologies and approaches to the management of our libraries, based on new and innovative standards, constitutes a third area of our efforts. We have made good progress in adopting the necessary in this regard and should take effective steps to update the standards.
In addition to the efforts we can make at the national level, there also exists a serious need to receive external assistance, whether from IFLA or other librarianship institutions around the world. The measures adopted last year by Iranian librarians to localize – contextualize – a number of standards, was a good step, which could be further strengthened and consolidated through external cooperation.
4. A fourth, and a very important area of work for us, concerns the critical measures we need to take to preserve documented cultural heritage in our libraries at the national level. Many libraries in Iran hold rich reservoirs of valuable documented heritage and manuscripts ten of which have already been registered with the UNESCO Memory of the World and another five registered in its regional lists. We definitely need to take practical steps towards digital preservation of manuscripts.
5. A fifth line of activity relates to the need to turn libraries into sustainable development hubs, and libraries can indeed serve as important centers for positive, future-looking social change. To this end, and similar to the earlier allusion to the need for strengthening the public sphere and civil society, here as well there exists the need for promoting the idea of developing green libraries in the country. The country’s generally dry climate, and especially given the dire forecasts for the coming decades, we, as librarians, will certainly have to take a more serious look at the effective promotion of green libraries, and sustainable preservation of information resources.
To conclude, let me emphasize that we really believe that librarians play an important role in a modern society; they can make a unique contribution, along with and in harmony and synergy with other actors and players, towards promoting social capital and developing a well-educated, cultured society, premised on participation, trust, law-abiding, cooperation, and hope. Our actual commitment, as Iranian librarians, to faithfully and honestly implement the measures we have adopted in the past is part and parcel of the huge responsibility on our shoulders – individually and collectively. The specific policies and actions envisioned in the Global Vision will certainly help us along the way.


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