Stichting IFLA Global Libraries Foundation

History of SIGL

Stichting IFLA Global Libraries (SIGL) was established in 2016 by the International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions (IFLA) and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF). The total legacy grant to SIGL was $31 million USD to be spent over ten years to support IFLA in strengthening and deepening its work with libraries globally.

In 1997 BMGF established the Global Libraries program to support and develop libraries, first in the United States and then across the world, by working in partnership with governments, NGOs and civil society to strengthen libraries.​

Global Libraries and IFLA became partners in 2007 with funding of $3.5 million provided for General Operating Funds and Capacity Building. This relationship continued for the next eleven years to support IFLA’s vision and ambitions.

In May 2014 BMGF announced they were ending the Global Libraries program in 2018 and that final funding should be spent on “Leaving the Library Field Strong.” Global Libraries knew that to succeed at this, IFLA would need to be involved. From the outset, IFLA and BMGF agreed that this funding would be managed by a new separate foundation – SIGL. SIGL has received $31 million USD to provide funding over a 10-year period to support IFLA’s international work. IFLA has so far received about half of this funding.

As a Foundation, SIGL’s objective defined in its Articles of Association is “to empower public libraries to improve people’s lives and support growth of sustainable societies”. IFLA and Global Libraries recognised that this could only be achieved when the role of all libraries is supported.

The foundation’s objective will be achieved through these areas as determined by IFLA:

  1. Research and Innovation:
    funding projects and research on public access to information and the internet, trends that affect how libraries serve their communities and ways to foster innovation in libraries;
  2. Training and Leadership:
    supporting efforts to identify strong library leaders and equipping them to create high impact libraries;
  3. Delivery:
    supporting efforts to create library programmes and services that can be replicated on a broad scale and customized for different settings;
  4. Impact, Advocacy and Policy:
    working to ensure adequate resources and public policy support for libraries and helping libraries, library staff, and the library field measure the impact of public access in libraries and strengthen their advocacy skills.



Funding of the Foundation is through donations. The assets of SIGL will mainly consist of the donations it received from BMGF. Other organisations and/or individuals might also donate to SIGL as well. Donations may be made to the Stichting IFLA Global Libraries.

Individual applications for grant funds should not be made to the Stichting IFLA Global Libraries, as they will not be considered by the Board.