Blockchain and libraries at IFLA

This is definitely a topic of interest with the international library community. Blockchain and distributed ledger technologies ( have been identified and reported on as emerging issues in the IFLA Trend Report 2016. The IFLA Committee on Copyright and other Legal Matters has also prepared a “Books in Blockchain” briefing on the topic in 2016 ( 
The Manager, Policy and Advocacy at IFLA and I are now planning for a flash session on blockchain at WLIC2018 in August in Malaysia. 
There are several angles/questions we are considering including:
  •  If people can access works individually over the blockchain, does this put the work of libraries into question?
  •  How can we ensure that exceptions and limitations to copyright are protected when works are accessed over blockchain (and can we over-ride them if needs be)?
  •  What impact will there be on traditional rights management systems?
  • Can blockchain help build trust in the academic system, notably in the authenticity of a transcript, particular dataset, copy of an article or monograph (digital science, scholarly publishing)?
  •  Broader applications for the economic and financial sectors, NGOs, etc.
At this point, there are more questions than answers but blockchain is a disruptive technology with major potential and implications for libraries, research, and publishing. We look forward to further engagement and discussions at your Library 2.0 Conference and National Forum. 
May Chang, Library CTO, University of Cincinnati; Chair, IT Section, IFLA
Stephen Wyber, Manager, Policy and Advocacy, IFLA

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