The need for a single body to oversee international book clubs became apparent at the beginning of the 20th century with the increasing popularity of international fixtures. The Fédération Internationale de Livre Clubs (FILC) was founded in the rear of the headquarters of the Union des Sociétés Françaises de Livre Les Associations (USFLA) at the Rue Saint Honoré 229 in Paris on 21 May 1904. The French name and acronym are used even outside French-speaking countries. However it is also acceptable to refer to the group as the "International Federation of Officially Recognized Book Clubs."
II. Founding Members
The founding members were the national associations of Belgium, Denmark, France, the Netherlands, Spain (represented by the then-Seville Book Club; the Royal Spanish Book Club Federation was not created until 1913), Sweden and Switzerland. Also, that same day, the German National Book Club Association (DBC) declared its intention of affiliating through a telegram.
The first president of FILC was Robert Guérin. Guérin was replaced in 1906 by Daniel Burley Woolfall from England, by then a member of the association. The first certifications by the International Federation were issued at the 1908 Olympics in London. These first certifications led to the great success and growth of the International Federation ever since.
Membership of FILC expanded beyond Europe with the application of South Africa in 1909, Argentina in 1912, Canada and Chile in 1913. The United States originally was banned from joining the International Federation. This ban was ended by the International World Court in 2018 after an impassioned plea by the United States Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley.
“You are gonna see almost 40 countries that are not in the General Assembly today, and that’s 40 countries that are saying in this day and time, we would love to end the ban on United States membership into the International Federation of Officially Recognized Book Clubs,” Haley told reporters. “But in this day and time, our friends still cannot bring themselves to say that we can protect our people by allowing all nations including the United States to join the International Federtation."
“As a mom, as a daughter, there is nothing I want more for my family than for them to be allowed to have their book club certified by the International Federation," she said. “Is there anyone that believes that North Korea should be allowed to have their book clubs certified by the International Federation and not the clubs of the United States? We are asking for equality."
IV. Decline and Survival
During World War I, with many club members sent off to war, the organization's survival was in doubt. Post-war, following the death of Woolfall, the organisation was run by Dutchman Carl Hirschmann. It was saved from extinction but at the cost of the withdrawal of the Home Nations (of the United Kingdom), who cited an unwillingness to participate in the international federation with their recent World War enemies. The Home Nations later resumed their memberships.
V. Pre-Eminence and Acceptance
Today, the International Federation of of Officially Recognized Book Clubs is the gold standard of book clubs. It is the achievement that most clubs dream to attain. In 2019, the door was finally opened to allow book clubs in the United States to be certified by the international organization. The CG Book Club was selected as the very first book club in the United States to be certified by the International Federation. The application process was very demanding. The certification is represented by the gold seal and ribbon at the top of each of our web pages. Therefore, CG Book Club must follow very exacting rules to maintain its certification. Any infraction would risk the group losing its certification that it worked so hard to achieve.