25 August 2019

From the Annual Conference

Opening Address by IFLA President Glòria Pérez-Salmerón

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Glòria Pérez-Salmerón

Full transcript of the President's address given at the Opening Session on Sunday, 25 August 2019


Welcome! Bienvenue! Bienvenido ! Willkommen ! Dobro Pozhalovat’ ! ‘Ahlaan bik ! Huanying !

And of course: Kalós írthes! Kalimera!

Welcome to Athens, to the World Library and Information Congress.

And I can see that the world truly has come to Athens to join our Conference here this week.

In person, and online. Welcome to all who are tuned into this hall!

Greek colleagues, you made this happen!

It’s here; we are in the cradle of European history, where more than 3,000 years ago a first settlement was created on the rock of the Acropolis.

During those thousands of years Athens went through times of Glory and times of decline.

And Athens writes a new page of its history today welcoming thousands of librarians from all over the word.

So, the Library world is connected, by being here in person at the Megaron, by joining us online!

I have so many thanks to give.

To Sofia Zacharaki, Deputy Minister for Education and Religious Affairs.

To our Greek donors, whose support has made this event possible.

As we are in Greece, I would particularly like to acknowledge the Stavros Niarchos Foundation, the Stavros Niarchos Foundation Cultural Centre, the Aikaterini Laskaridis Foundation, the Onassis Foundation, the Bank of Greece, and the Bodossakis Foundation.

To the National Library of Greece and its Director, who is also the Co-Chair of our National Committee, and to our other two National Committee co-chairs, the President and Vice-President of the Association of Greek Librarians and Information Scientists,

To our National Committee. You have taken on a major task and delivered. You have made this happen.

Again, I would like to thank you all, for you work.

To Greece and its 500 librarians. We have seen such great examples of what your institutions are doing in our WLIC newsletters. And I know we will see many more in the coming days!

Thank you too to everyone who has put together such a great programme. To the officers and members of our standing committees and special interest groups. I am really looking forward to seeing the results of your great work.

To our division chairs and other Governing Board members.

And of course, to IFLA’s Secretary General and IFLA staff.

I have already thanked the National Committee.

But I wanted to thank them in particular for choosing the theme of the conference: “Libraries: Dialogue for Change”.

Dialogue is about exchange and learning. About giving everybody the opportunity to listen and be listened to.

It gives a positive message, a dynamic message, and an empowering message. A message really close to my own theme – ‘Libraries, motors of change’.

Because dialogue – interaction – is vital.

Just as in any motor, a single gear, alone, can do little. What makes the difference is when the gears work together, interact, dialogue.

And the more gears are involved, are engaged, the more powerful our movement, our momentum, our ability to enact change becomes.

This of course means a new way of working as the global library field.

Because to change the world, we must be ready to change ourselves – our methods, our mindsets.

And I am glad to say that under the guidance of Gerald Leitner, our Secretary General, this is happening.

IFLA has facilitated dialogue for nearly a century. But now we truly are moving up a gear.

This is the way that we like to work in IFLA, my dear colleagues. We do so by moving forward a participatory and inclusive organisation, to create a stronger, a louder voice for libraries, to build a truly united library field.

Since my first acceptance speech in Wroclaw I must insist on saying how proud I am to be a librarian.

Yeah! Absolutely proud because I’m still excited and I can feel your excitement as well in this transformative journey that IFLA is making together, working towards a united Library Field.

Dialogue amongst ourselves, with hundreds of colleagues all over the world allows me to be inspired, to move up a gear myself knowing that we are a big team.

As I’m from Barcelona, I would like to say we are a “Dream Team”, like Barça, you know. We are.

And now we can see it in the new examples we’re receiving of SDG Stories in IFLA’s Library Map of the World. But also the examples of how libraries are changing policies. Changing the settings of society.

Last year in Kuala Lumpur I mentioned the successful case of #BibliotecariosAlSenado in Colombia.

Today, I would like to applaud those hard-working librarians who influenced national strategies to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals through libraries.

Who made politicians understand that libraries are motors of change? In Chile, in Australia, in Switzerland. Also at the local level, where the Voluntary Local Review of Helsinki had, on its front cover – you’ve guessed it – a library.

All of them have my support, IFLA’s support in their advocacy towards making change happen.

There is so much to be said about the dialogues I have been privileged to have, to be part of, during my Presidency.

I invite you all to come and follow my final President’s Session tomorrow, Monday from 9:30am in this room.

I’m really pleased to bring together 12 speakers to share some of the dialogues – dialogues for change – which have most marked me over the last years.

I hope they will mark you also. Because this is my contribution, my main goal here: to ensure that all participants in this Congress – in person, online – can take forward the message of libraries as motors of change and share it with their communities.

To break down silos, to work with and through the Sustainable Development Goals to change libraries and the societies they serve, to update our own mindsets through the Global Vision.

I would like to finish by saying once more:

Dialogue has enabled the motors of change, and we are ready.

Ready to move up a gear.

It is our duty. And our opportunity. 

Because societies are better, fairer, stronger and more diverse thanks to libraries.

We are now going to hear from the IFLA Secretary General, who has played such a role in leading IFLA on this journey.

So, join me in a warm applause to welcome Gerald Leitner.

Glòria Pérez-Salmerón
IFLA President

Greece, IFLA President, IFLA WLIC 2019