IFLA and UNESCO Launch an Updated Public Library Manifesto at the 87th World Library and Information Congress (WLIC)

The IFLA/UNESCO Public Library Manifesto proclaims UNESCO's belief in the public library as a living force for education, culture and information, and as an essential agent for the fostering of peace and welfare through the minds of all people.

IFLA and UNESCO are excited to announce the start of a new chapter in library advocacy with the launch of an updated IFLA-UNESCO Public Library Manifesto. This announcement follows the endorsement of the updated text by the UNESCO Information for All Programme Bureau on 18 July 2022. Following the virtual consultation on the IFLA Manifesto 2022 launched on Monday 18 July 2022 and completed on Tuesday 19 July 2022, the IFAP Bureau has voted with unanimity to endorse the IFLA/UNESCO Public Library Manifesto 2022.

This Manifesto was first created in 1949 and has been updated over the decades as the role of libraries in society evolves. The most recent version, published in 1994, has long been a cornerstone of IFLA’s public library advocacy.

Since 2020, IFLA and the UNESCO Information for All Programme (IFAP) have collaborated on an update to the Manifesto. The goal of the update was to consider changes in technology and society and ensure that the Manifesto continues to reflect the realities and mission of public libraries today.

The Process

Drafting an updated Manifesto would not be possible without participation of the global library field. Therefore, IFLA’s Public Library Section launched a survey in 2020 to gather input from librarians around the world.

Over 600 responses offered a great amount of insight into how library professionals have used the Manifesto in their work, and how they suggest it could be updated and improved.

Over the following year, IFLA worked with UNESCO IFAP to finalise an updated text that took this feedback into consideration while also aligning with UNESCO’s work on furthering access to information and knowledge for all.

Every single one of IFAP’s priority areas: information literacy, information access, information preservation, information ethics, information for development, and multilingualism, resonates with all dimensions of this Manifesto.

Updated Concepts

The updated manifesto upholds libraries as agents of sustainable development through their position as publicly accessible spaces for the exchange of information, the sharing of culture, and the promotion of civic engagement.

This includes highlighting inclusion, access, and cultural participation for marginalised communities, Indigenous peoples, and users with special needs.

It reflects the public library’s role in helping all members of society access, produce, create, and share knowledge.  This includes an increased focus on remote and digital access to information and materials, as well as access to the competencies and connectivity required to bridge the digital divide. The update stresses the development of media and information literacy and digital skills in the spirit of equipping informed, democratic societies.

The updated text further states that libraries underpin healthy knowledge societies through providing access to and enabling the creation and sharing of knowledge of all sorts, including scientific and local knowledge without commercial, technological or legal barriers.

It further states that, in the digital era, copyright and intellectual property legislation must ensure public libraries the same capacity to procure and give access to digital content on reasonable terms as is the case with physical resources.


IFLA is eager to lead a renewed campaign to encourage its global network of members and volunteers to engage in library advocacy to help implement the Manifesto.

Projects to develop complementary tools and guidance, including regionally-focussed workshops in partnership with IFLA’s Regional Division Committees, are being explored for later in 2022.

IFLA HQ contact : Claire McGuire – claire.mcguire@ifla.org

UNESCO IFAP Secretariat : Xianhong Hu – x.hu@unesco.org