40 Years of Technology in Libraries: A Brief History of the IFLA Section on Information Technology, 1963/64 - 2003

by Sally McCallum

Created by IFLA in 1963 at the beginning of the commercial computer era, the IFLA Section on Information Technology has led the Federation through changes in computer and communications technology by introducing, describing, teaching, and predicting its use for information delivery.

The programs and projects of the Section have assisted librarians through successive phases – starting with local applications, through common data format development, early networking crossborder connectivity, and Internet connectivity, and into today’s digital resource challenges. Very early the Section promoted standardization as a critical thread through this rapid change, standards either developed by or adopted by librarians.

This brief history was finalized at the IFLA 2003 Conference in Berlin. The information on Section activities came primarily from the IFLA Annual, published from 1976-1995, which contains short descriptions of the activities of each IFLA professional group. Prior to the Annual, similar descriptions were published each year in the Proceedings of the Council. The history consists of a description of the changes in the Section members’ interests over the period as the technology matured and shifted and new opportunities were made possible. The history is followed by an annex listing the papers sponsored by the Section at the IFLA General Conferences, along with some workshops undertaken by the Section. These papers reflect the history of library automation and are interesting to review. The enormous variety of topics and international mix of authors is a tribute to the work of the organizers of sessions. The last annex lists the officers of the Section from its earliest days.

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40 Years of Technology in Libraries:
A Brief History of the IFLA Section on Information Technology, 1963/64 – 2003

July 2003

Publications, Information Technology

Last update: 28 February 2013