The Library Association of Ireland (LAI) wishes to express its concern, dissatisfaction, and regret at the decision taken by IFLA to hold the 2024 World Library and Information Congress (WLIC) in Dubai. The LAI believes that this decision is not in keeping with the spirit of openness, inclusivity and diversity that should be central to any gathering of librarians and in particular the World Library and Information Congress.
The LAI was proud to host IFLA WLIC in Dublin in 2022. The programme celebrated the best of libraries internationally, including sessions that addressed inclusivity, equity and diversity within our sector. In hosting the WLIC 2022 in Dublin, the LAI highlighted the fact that Ireland is a safe and stable liberal democracy and a leader in equality legislation, with no restrictions that would deter potential attendees in attending. Unfortunately, the same cannot be said about Dubai. The LAI is very concerned that many of our colleagues will feel that Dubai will not provide a safe and inclusive environment for them to participate in Congress. The Association worries that restrictions to freedom of expression in this country will lead to a limited conference programme devoid of content that may be deemed objectionable. When we willingly surrender the ability to discuss all topics of interest to our profession, we abandon any pretence of being committed to intellectual freedom.
The LAI is especially concerned about the impact of IFLA’s decision for our LGBTQI+ colleagues and all librarians who hold the values of equality, diversity, inclusion and universal human rights dear. As a small island nation situated on the edge of Europe, we understand the need to host WLIC in a range of geographic areas. However, we also stress the need for any chosen venue to be welcoming and open to our global librarian community in its totality.
As an open and democratic organisation, the LAI believes that IFLA should listen to the voices of its membership and to implement a process to ensure that no member is excluded directly or indirectly from participating in the WLIC. Until this happens the LAI recommends that its members do not participate in WLIC 2024 in Dubai.