Strong Libraries, Strong Societies
My aim during my term as President of IFLA is to continue to promote libraries in their crucial task in society. Therefore, I have chosen as my Presidential theme “Strong Libraries, Strong Societies”.
I firmly believe that libraries exert an impact on society and development by fostering equal opportunities and access to lifelong learning and education, research and innovation, culture and recreation for all. In this way, libraries can contribute to building stronger communities and societies.
My theme supports and promotes the IFLA Strategic Plan for 2010–2015 and Key Initiatives and is based on the previous Presidential themes. The IFLA Trend Report will be a significant tool for my work as well as it provides detailed options for libraries across the world to position themselves internationally within the evolving digital information environment.
How do you define a strong library?
A strong library can be defined as one that has adequate capacity to meet the information needs of its patrons. Thus, for a library to be perceived as a strong library by its user community, it needs to meet such key criteria as:
- User orientation
- Competent personnel
- Adequate and sustainable funding
- Up-to-date, adequate collections and ICT equipment with connections to digital contents
- Sufficient space
These key criteria represent challenges to libraries in many countries. That is why we at IFLA, national library associations and all libraries need to act as advocates and spokespeople for libraries to make the decision-makers and politicians, and all other relevant stakeholders, aware not only of the benefits of libraries to society but, at the same time, of the needs of libraries if they are to fulfil their tasks.
What is a strong society like?
It is my understanding that strong societies consist of informed citizens who actively participate in their community and promote sustainable development, intellectual and economic growth as well as general well-being.
A strong society is open, free and equal, giving its citizens the possibilities to use all their knowledge, abilities and skills to benefit their own and their families’ lives, the community they live in and thus their entire society.
One of the pillars of strong libraries and strong societies is the democratic ideal of freedom of access to information and knowledge.
President’s acceptance speech in Singapore