The CIFNAL project began with a March 2004 resolution of the International Conference “Migrations, Society, Culture, and the Library,” sponsored by the Association of College and Research Libraries Western European Studies Section (ACRL-WESS) in Paris. Encouraged by successful models in GRN’s global projects, the Ad Hoc Committee of ACRL-WESS established a working group in June 2004 to address the challenges of increasingly interconnected global cultures and the resultant demand for access to print and electronic French-language resources irrespective of borders. Although interest in all Francophone areas of the world is strong, the group decided to concentrate initially on establishing contacts with partners in France.
The group put forward a set of strategic goals and detailed plans to launch activities in three areas: establish collaborative activities among French and North-American libraries; identify French institutional partners; and explore potential sources of funding to support cooperative activities. The Global Resources Network Advisory Committee endorsed the Ad Hoc Committee’s proposal in March 2005.
A steering committee was created in fall 2005 and charged with setting out the agenda and development plan for the project: Sarah Wenzel (chair), Tom Kilton (past chair), Jeffry Larson (French Partners Working Group coordinator), Sarah Sussman (Potential Sources of Funding Working Group coordinator), and Kati Radics (Goals Working Group coordinator).
CIFNAL incorporated at the 2006 meeting of the American Library Association with the approval of a mission statement and bylaws.
Some of CIFNAL’s early activity included the establishment of the Bibliotheque bleue project, licensing of French-language databases for its members and participation in the August 2008 AIFBD conference in Montreal.
Claude Potts of the University of California, Berkeley gave a presentation about CIFNAL's history at the October 2017 event "New Directions for Libraries, Scholars, and Partnerships: an International Symposium". His presentation is available at https://escholarship.org/uc/item/74v8z194