In the Service of University Libraries

The History and Development of IATUL

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 Conference 1961

IATUL Conference 1961

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 36th Annual IATUL Conference in Hannover in 2015, IATUL celebrated its 60th birthday. A presentation given by Vice President Gwendolyn Ebbett showed the most important and interesting milestones in the history of the association:


In the Service of University Libraries – A Review of IATUL History, 1955-2015

History of IATUL 
by Paul Sheehan

Consise history of IATUL 
by Karl Hughes


Past Presidents

Dr. E. Hemlin         Sweden1955-1962                                
Dr. L. J. van der WolkThe Netherlands1963-1966
Dr. J. MackUnited States of America                                                      1966-1969
Prof. A. J. EvansUnited Kingdom1969-1975
G. A. HamelThe Netherlands1975-1980
Dr. J-P. SydlerSwitzerland1980-1983
Dr. S. WestbergSweden1983-1986
Dr. Dennis ShawUnited Kingdom1986-1990
Prof. Elin. TörnuddFinland 1990-1992
Dr. Gerald A. J. S. van Marle                                         The Netherlands 1992-1996
Dr. Nancy FjällbrantSweden 1996-2000
Michael BreaksUnited Kingdom2000-2004
Gaynor AustenAustralia 2005-2006
Maria HeijneThe Netherlands2007-2009
Prof Ainslie DeweAustralia 2010-2012
Dr. Reiner KallenbornGermany 2013-2018
Anne HornUnited Kingdom2018-2020
Dr. Charles EckmanUnited States of America2020-2021