Big Data Special Interest Group

Sponsored by: Information Technology Section


The Big Data Special Interest Group (SIG) was proposed during WLIC 2014 (Lyon) and petitioned for during WLIC 2015 (Cape Town), mainly in response to the findings of the preceding 2013 IFLA Trend Report. It is in particular the Trend Report section dealing with big data and how libraries should respond to it that was the motivating factor for the formation of the SIG. Libraries want to know how they could be part of the big data movement and the associated rich streams of data generated by it as a possible source of information; therefore being part of the movement rather than standing on the periphery thereof.

Such a study puts the spotlight beyond the traditional environment of libraries and onto the corporate, research and scientific domains. To translate big data concepts from these domains to those of libraries, and to explore the broader professional issues of data librarianship are therefore the primary focus areas of the SIG. The SIG does this through facilitating discussion within, and external to, the IFLA community on the positioning of data-related activities in libraries, as well as actively partaking in the annual World Library and Information Congress (WLIC) program through joint sessions with Sections, the arranging of annual Business Meetings, and the hosting of preconference satellite meetings during which specific data-pertinent issues are discussed in depth.


The goals of the SIG were well articulated during the petition in 2015 and remain largely unchanged, with slight adjustments made annually where needed:

1. Investigate the ethical considerations for governing big data in libraries

  • the privacy, copyright and ethics involved with working with data in libraries
  • public access to big data and e-government
  • retention periods of data and information
  • openness of big data

2. Exploring data literacy initiatives and skills development in general

  • practical skills development when sourcing, wrangling, analysing and visualising data
  • organising and accessing data
  • developing the "data savviness" of library professionals
  • data and software carpentry interventions when relevant

3. Creating a focus point to discuss the infrastructural considerations for administering big data

  • investigate technology related issues in administering big data in libraries
  • share frameworks and applications (use cases)
  • techniques such as data mining (TDM), visualisation and data analysis
  • data analytics and library dashboard systems

Related work in other institutions:


Big Data, Special Interest Groups, Information technology

Last update: 9 July 2019

Latest News

Call for papers for the Big Data SIG open session at WLIC 2020 now open

The call for papers for the IFLA Big Data SIG’s open session at the forthcoming congress in Dublin, Ireland, August 15 - 21 is now open. The Big Data SIG is seeking papers focused on finding collaborative solutions to the practical challenges of working with data in libraries.

1 March 2020

Now available: papers and presentations from WLIC 2019 satellite meeting

Both the papers and presentation slides from the WLIC2019 satellite meeting are now available from the satellite meeting webpage.

7 October 2019