IFLA Secretary General Gerald Leitner

Full transcript of Gerald Leitner’s speech given at the Opening Session on Saturday, 25 August 2018

Good morning IFLA, good morning colleagues here in this spectacular room and good morning colleagues and library friends all over the world.

It´s fantastic to be back in Asia with our congress after five years. As the leading global organisation representing the library and information profession, IFLA has a mission to reach out to all parts of the world.

And we are thrilled that with this congress here in Kuala Lumpur – thanks to the strong support of the Malaysian National Committee – many colleagues from Malaysia, but also from neighbouring countries and the whole Asian region, have the chance to experience an IFLA World Library and Information Congress for the first time. This is very important!

But of course, we are aware that the wonderful city of Kuala Lumpur is very far away from other regions, and that not everyone will be able to join us.

Therefore for the second time, IFLA will live stream parts of the of the World Library and Information Congress, and we will deliver it to the global library community without any cost.

And because IFLA always wants to grow, to improve, to become better, our livestreaming offer is also much better than last year. We will give colleagues from all over the world the chance to participate in nine sessions. More than ever before.

We are streaming the five most popular IFLA sessions and four very important sessions of the Professional Units. This will allow colleagues at home to get a taste of the conference and for sure we want to see all of you at our congress next year in Athens, Greece.

Libraries, and the services they offer, are built on values. IFLA, as the global voice of libraries, has always taken a strong position in favour of fundamental freedoms, and in promoting the principles of access, empowerment, and non-discrimination.

From the annual World Library and Information Congress to the day-to-day work of our members around the globe, the library community defends and promotes these principles. The literate, informed and participatory societies that we seek to create depend on free expression and access to information through high quality library services, open for all.

This is both a necessary, and an ongoing effort. We do not currently live in a world where our values are universally shared. But we are not powerless.

The World Library and Information Congress offers a unique opportunity to drive progress.

In the last ten years, IFLA´s World Library and Information Congresses have been held in five different continents, giving thousands of members of our community the chance to participate. It has also given host cities and regions clear proof of the enthusiasm, and the transformative power of libraries.

By promoting inclusiveness, both in terms of bringing the conference as close to as many of our Members as possible, and in maximising participation from elsewhere, WLIC can be the start of a dialogue which serves to strengthen the resolve and voice of librarians, underline the values of libraries, and the importance of the services they provide.

All who do attend this conference, in person or virtually, will be able to join us in promoting libraries, their services and their values, in building an ever stronger community here in Asia and in all parts of the world. Let´s make the most of this opportunity in the days to come!

The Global Vision Report – the result of contributions from colleagues from 190 countries and all seven continents – shows that across all regions, all library types, and lengths of library experience, we share a deep commitment to the enduring value and role of libraries. And across the global library field, no value was more highly rated than a commitment to equal and free access to information and knowledge.

Never before has there been such an initiative as the IFLA Global Vision, which gives every single librarian in the world the chance to contribute – and never before have so many librarians from all parts of the world contributed to a single, global conversation.

And as IFLA Secretary General I say it loudly and proudly: no other organisation in the field of culture, education and science in the world has been able to launch such an inclusive and democratic process worldwide. The IFLA Global Vision report is the manifestation of new idea of IFLA and of the power and potential of a united library field.

But we are just at the beginning. For the realisation of all the great opportunities which the Global Vision Report identifies, we need all of you. Your ideas and your actions.

On Sunday afternoon we will launch the full version of the Report.

Together with you we are going to create the biggest ideas store for actions to make the Global Vison a reality – a source of inspiration for the strategic and daily work of librarians. But all this depends on you, on your experience, on your creativity, on your engagement. IFLA and the Global Vision – that´s you. Bring your ideas to the Global Vision workshop on Sunday afternoon.

We firmly believe that only a united and connected library field will be able to fulfil one of the true potentials of libraries: to build literate, informed and participative societies.

To reach this ambitious goal, to realise the Global Vision, IFLA Headquarters is already moving up a gear. We are working on new tools to support our Members more effectively and strengthen the position of libraries globally.

We have brought many new ideas and services for you!

Tomorrow morning at the IFLA Highlights session, we will present some of these to you all.

We are really keen to discuss these further with you during the week, to get your input, your feedback – and to develop them most efficiently in partnership with you! Don’t miss this opportunity to contribute.

Colleagues, I’m sure we are going to have a vibrant congress here in beautiful Kuala Lumpur. Over 250 sessions, more than 500 speakers, and 3516 delegates from 112 countries will give you the unique opportunity to get a colourful, inspiring picture about what is currently going in the global library field. Use this opportunity, become an active part of it, and build your network!

I am very much looking forward to meeting as many of you as possible during the conference, to get your ideas and feedback.

Have a great conference, see you all in many fantastic sessions and exciting meetings and don’t miss the General Assembly on Tuesday.

Enjoy the most international library and information conference in the world!

Gerald Leitner
IFLA Secretary General