Talking about trends: the IFLA needs to reverse their own

IFLA’s brand new Trend Report update is a masterpiece in the art of avoiding difficult words or paraphrasing them. For example, the words disarmament and peace. The absence of these words from the report speaks volumes about the current war trend. These words are not receiving a single mention in the new trend report.

Sustainability, on the other hand, is a word that is underlined by IFLA’s President in her foreword. “I am happy that both of them [i.e. the 2021 trend report and the current 2022 update] are closely linked to my presidential theme – Libraries Building a Sustainable Future,” she writes. It’s just that ‘sustainability’ in the text of the report itself then every time the word is used refers to “our own sustainability”.

Surely “we” – the librarians and the IFLA – must succeed in becoming more sustainable if the world development is to become more sustainable. But does saying so help us to to perceive the trends and understand where we are heading?

“We need to feel a sense of agency in the face of the future”, the Report says. And: “This can be uncomfortable. That part of the brain that wants only to deal with the familiar will tend to resist, but we need to overcome this. The sense of agency mentioned above – that we can all make a difference and shape the future – can help in this respect.” Therefore: “We need to support emerging leaders to ensure sustainability, while also seeing that we can all develop.”

Why cannot “we” ourselves develop into those emerging leaders who feel a sense of agency and become actors for the future? Why do we not dare to use the words peace and disarmament? Could we also note a counter-trend to the ongoing new arms race, namely, the trend towards the abolition of nuclear weapons ? Concrete and existing evidence of this counter-trend is the UN Treaty on the Abolition of Nuclear Weapons that has already been signed by 92 states and ratified by 68. Why do we – the IFLA and the librarians – not do our best to strengthen that trend?

Having a sense of agency means feeling responsible for making the development less unsustainable. It would mean to reach out with the message that we – the librarians, the IFLA – support the UN and its Treaty.

By the way, the wars, the current arms race, and the other preparations for war, are the biggest threat to the environment and to the sustainability of any further development.

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