International Association of Scientific and Technological University Libraries


IATUL was founded in Düsseldorf, Germany, as the International Association of Technological University Libraries in May 1955, as an international forum for the exchange of ideas relevant to librarianship in technological universities throughout the world. IATUL is a voluntary international non-governmental organisation of a group of libraries, represented by their library directors or senior managers, who have responsibility for information services and resources management. The expanded name of IATUL was changed to the International Association of Scientific and Technological University Libraries at the 2009 General Assembly to reflect the broader range of institutions, which now make up the membership of the association. At the 2014 Annual Conference in Helsinki, the General Assembly of IATUL decided to extend its mandate to include all university libraries internationally, irrespective of their academic specialisation. This change reflects the membership profile of IATUL where the vast majority of institutions now belong to comprehensive universities. Therefore, its name was changed to be the International Association of University Libraries.

IATUL is an excellent example of the development of an effective informal international network between libraries of similar type, with a common high level of professional expertise and offering a similar range of services to their users. Many of the members of IATUL provide services, not only to the teaching and research staff and students of their own university, but also to industrial organizations and national research institutions, in their respective countries.

The main objective of IATUL is to provide a forum where library directors and senior managers can meet to exchange views on matters of current significance and to provide an opportunity for them to develop a collaborative approach to solving problems. IATUL also welcomes organizations who supply services to university libraries into membership, if they wish to be identified with the association’s activities.

The History and development of IATUL

In the early years many of the members of IATUL came from Europe, where there were a number of well-established institutions for technological education. The eighteenth century had seen the founding of some of the earliest "schools" of this type in France, Germany and Hungary. The first half of the nineteenth century was a period of considerable economic and social growth and development. This period saw the increasing use of steam power for industry, the rapid change from local craft production to factory-based industries, and considerable improvements in communications. These changes led to an increased need for the provision of technical education and training, resulting in the founding of "trades and craft schools" and polytechnic institutions throughout Europe. Similar institutions were founded in the USA. The early members of IATUL came mostly from European universities of technology and from some American institutions. During the last twenty years there has been a steady growth in IATUL members coming from all parts of the world, resulting in a truly international organization.

At the 16th IATUL Conference, which was held at the University of Twente, in the Netherlands in 1995, IATUL celebrated its first forty years with a special session on the history of the organisation. Several papers given at this session by previous Board Members provide interesting glimpses of the history of IATUL from a variety of angles:

Whither IATUL 1986-1990? by Dennis Shaw, former President of IATUL, Oxford, UK

IATUL as a Mirror of Library Developments Since 1966 as Documented in IATUL Proceedings by Elin Törnudd, former President of IATUL, Finland.

Small is Beautiful by Anna Dömötör, University of Veszprém, Hungary

The impact of IATUL on the Development of the Central Technical Library in the Republic of Slovenia By Mara Slajpah, Ex-IATUL Board Member, Slovenia

Past Presidents

Dr. E. Hemlin, Sweden (1955-62)

Dr. L.J. van der Wolk, The Netherlands (1963-1966)

Dr. J. Mack, United States of America (1966-1969)

Prof. A.J. Evans, United Kingdom (1969-1975)

Mr. G.A. Hamel, The Netherlands (1975-1980)

Dr. J-P. Sydler, Switzerland (1980-1983)

Dr. S. Westberg, Sweden (1983-1986)

Dr. Dennis. Shaw, United Kingdom (1986-1990)

Prof. Elin. Törnudd, Finland (1990-1992)

Dr. Gerald A.J.S. van Marle, The Netherlands (1992-1996)

Dr. Nancy Fjällbrant, Sweden (1996-2000)

Mr. Michael Breaks, United Kingdom (2000-2004)

Ms Gaynor Austen, Australia (2005-2006)

Ms Maria Heijne, The Netherlands (2007-2009)

Prof Ainslie Dewe, Australia (2010-2012)