My first year as IFLA’s President 2017-2018

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Dear Colleagues,

Those who came to my President’s session on Sunday will know how much I believe in advocacy.

As I underlined, I want to be an “influencer”, to shape mindsets, and to build connections.

So, in the first year of my presidency, my activities have been centred on advocacy and collaboration.

Talking about IFLA’s work with external stakeholders – decision-makers, influencers, partners.

Building a spirit of collaboration both among IFLA’s members and between them and stakeholders.

And making sure that our leaders of the future know that they have my support and encouragement.

I truly believe that libraries must align their services with the needs of society and deliver access to information in line with this important goal.

And I have been committed to ensuring IFLA’s own work reflects the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). For me, this is key to ensuring libraries’ recognition as partners for development.

I am lucky that I have such a generous employer, the “Diputació de Barcelona” (Barcelona’s Provincial Council). Thanks to them, I have been able to devote a significant amount of time to supporting and representing IFLA.

It has been a joy to do so much – over 100 different public activities: lectures, visits to so many libraries, conference openings and seminars, workshops, presentations both in person and online, and plenty of recorded greetings and short talks about my theme and IFLA programmes.

In each case, I have tried to use the opportunity to make a difference. To urge collaboration between different national associations, to encourage active contributions to the IFLA Global Vision and the Library Map of the World.

In the time I have, I will not list all that I have done. This is already the subject of detailed papers to the IFLA Governing Board, as well as many reports and events posted on the IFLA website. But there is an alternative.

Many of you know that I am an active social media user! You can find me on my own humble website, Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and Instagram.

So here, I will just highlight some globally significant events which, I hope, will illustrate the priorities I set out above:

Within the library field, I have worked to encourage, mobilise, and drive engagement in IFLA’s great initiatives.

  • A highlight must be my first President’s Meeting, in my hometown of Barcelona. Thanks to the support of the Diputació de Barcelona, we have the second phase of the Global Vision an amazing launch.
  • I took part in five of the six Global Vision regional workshops from April to July of this year. Santiago, Ottawa, Paris, Hanoi, Durban too. In these meetings, I worked to inspire our participants, to get them thinking about ideas for action to ensure excellent services now and into the future.  And of course, there was my own national Spanish workshop, held at in ‘El Retiro’ Public Library in Madrid where I acted as head facilitator.
  • At the American Library Association Annual Conference, with the precious help of Michael Dowling, MLAS Chair, and alongside our Secretary-General and two more GB members Patrick Losinski and Torjörn Nilsson, I talked about IFLA’s work on the Global Vision.
  • In Mexico, I inspired the National Public Library Network Authority to contribute to the IFLA Global Vision and become IFLA members.
  • In Russia, I took a leading role in a working meeting on the “UN Sustainable Development Goals and IFLA’s Global Vision” and in Italy, at the 20th Fiesole Collection Development Retreat, I delivered a Global Vision presentation to an audience of around Academic Librarians.
  • And I even promoted the Vision at the annual conference of the International Federation of Reprographic Rights Organisations in Tokyo!

The Vision has created a genuinely unique opportunity to engage libraries and library associations around the world with IFLA. I cannot really express how much I gained from these discussions, and how much it has strengthened my own confidence in the power of our organisation.

I also worked to support our members.

  • I was able to ask the Mexican national authority to ensure that all small public libraries are connected to the Internet, the need to develop an act for libraries development and congratulate the National Libraries and Archives of Iran, and the National Library of Lithuania on their birthdays. To many others, I send recorded messages.
  • At the Chinese Library Association Annual Conference, I delivered an address at the opening ceremony. My visit, together with our Secretary General, allowed us to talk with the Director General of the National Library of China about how to strengthen Chinese participation in IFLA’s professional units.
  • In Mexico, I worked together with parliamentary librarians to advance the goals of the Valparaiso Declaration, which pledges to create a network of Parliamentary Libraries for Latin America.
  • And I took a lot of pleasure from the event organised by the French International Library and Documentation Committee and the IFLA SIG for new professionals in Lyon and Paris.

Of course, as President, I also have a duty to support IFLA’s own management.

  • At ALA Annual, I joined discussions at the Public Library Association (PLA) Governing Board meeting to talk about the IFLA-TASCHA-PLA Legacy Global Libraries. And I was also here in Malaysia, meeting the national committee and supporting their efforts to ensure strong attendance at this year’s conference. I am so glad to see so many people here and thank the national committee for their efforts.
  • There has been a welcome focus on boosting our membership. I mentioned the National Public Library Authority earlier, and also made use of our Vision workshops to hear about what our association members expect, and encourage non-members to come on board.

And last but not least, I have worked to advocate for libraries to be seen as an investment, not a cost.

  • This was my key message in the closing session of the 2nd Meeting of African ministers responsible for public libraries.
  • As well as in my speeches at the IAP Global Convening in New York.
  • In Spain, I led efforts to get my own national association involved in the voluntary national review of the implementation of the SDGs presented in July of this at the UN High-level Political Forum.
  • In Brazil, I shaped the creation of the Inter-institutional Committee on Information and Library Cooperation. This brings together ministries, universities, library schools and libraries, and offers great possibilities to strengthen the sector in the country.
  • In this way, I spoke about the importance of developing both basic and media and information literacy at the opening of the Global Media and Information Literacy Week feature conference in Kingston, Jamaica.
  • And I met the Secretary-General of the Organisation of Ibero-American States for Education, as well as the UNESCO LAC Regional Office to promote libraries as partners for development.

As you can hear, it was a busy year. But I’m only getting started. There is so much more I want to do, with you. I hope you will come to the Closing Session tomorrow to hear more!

28th August 2018

(Report of IFLA’s President, at the IFLA GENERAL ASSEMBLY 2018, held in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia on 28-29 August 2018)

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