Congress theme: “Open access to knowledge - promoting sustainable progress”

A Conversation with Elizabet Maria Ramos de Carvalho, Regional Manager for IFLA's Latin America and the Caribbean Section

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How long have you been with IFLA ?
Firstly, I would like to say that I’ve been very happy to work as IFLA's LAC regional office manager. I’ve been an IFLA Regional manager for almost 20 years! And this conference is the way for me to say goodbye to this function, but not to stop all my activities within IFLA. It is a surprise for lots of my colleagues. But now’s the time to cross the relay, although my colleagues of the Latin America and the Caribbean Region already asked me to stay one year more as an advisor for the set up of the Puerto Rico conference. And how could I say no?

Could you tell me some of the highlights you have had with IFLA?
I’ve got very great memories, and the best one is when Spanish became an official language in IFLA. This was a big moment and a very good one! IFLA gave the opportunity to a large part of the world’s population to get access to the most relevant information of the international library community. Another very good memory is the two conferences in this region; one in Cuba and one in Argentina. And of course the 77th IFLA conference in Puerto Rico in 2011. I’m sure it will be a marvelous conference.

Could you tell us what is Portugnol ?
(she laughs) You know, in this part of the world, we’re always switch from Portuguese to Spanish. And has I’m Brazilian; my Spanish is quite tainted of Portuguese. So, as we say in my country, we speak Portugnol, a mix of those two languages.

How do you see the role of Regional offices in IFLA ?
The role of Regional offices is very important, because it is a source of networking. By this office we maintain a lot of contacts and we play the role of direct link between IFLA and the library communities of the region. In the Latin America and the Caribbean region there are a lot of informal networks, our office is able to keep in touch with all of these. Further, regional offices also work closely with regional sections. The rhythm of the section is different from which of the regional office. They work together by targeting specified missions on literacy development and free access to knowledge and information. The Latin America and the Caribbean Region also developed a lot of contacts with the Africa one and the Asia and Oceania. And we also work with institutional structures and national representatives of the local governments. In the future, the role regional offices are playing will stay a strong one.

Do you have any advice to give to your successor?
Be a diplomat. I think it is the most important thing. Also, develop good relations with all the partners, and especially with the colleagues from all the areas of the world. Developing diplomatic skills is the key to have good relationships and the best way to promote the work you’re doing in the region. And in this rich melting pot of cultures, you’ll have to advocate for libraries and free access to knowledge with all your partners.

Will you continue to come to the IFLA Conference?
Of course I will! I like IFLA. IFLA is an important way to keep in touch with colleagues from all over the world, and I wouldn’t miss that for anything. I’ve met a lot of friends here, a lot of colleagues, and learned a lot of things. So as long as I can, I’ll attend the IFLA conferences.

Support for a library warrior

Elisabeth ! I am so happy to see that you are still fighting for the library best in Brazil. I never forget your commitment and energy for your work.

My best wishes for You

Britt Marie