The IFLA President is the Chair both of the IFLA General Assembly and the IFLA Governing Board. They provide professional leadership for the Federation, as well as being the chief representative of IFLA outside of legal and formal proceedings.  

IFLA Presidents serve a term of two years, after two years as President-elect. They are directly elected by IFLA’s Membership.

IFLA President 2021-2023: Barbara Lison


Theme: Libraries building a sustainable future

I am taking up the responsibility of the IFLA Presidency at a time when the world is looking to rebuild after the devastating COVID-19 pandemic. Yet while we should not easily forget all of the damage done, there is also an important opportunity to do things better, more sustainably.

My theme – Libraries Building a Sustainable Future – therefore has the following three dimensions.

First of all, the pandemic has underlined how essential libraries are for their communities. In the services that we were able to continue, drawing on all of our reserves of resilience and inventiveness, we showed our ability to provide access to culture and information, even in the most difficult of circumstances. Yet, even in those situations where services had to be suspended, our communities have demonstrated how much they missed us. This is an overwhelming evidence of how much we matter for individuals and societies.

I want to use my Presidential term to go further and deep dive in how we can realise our potential to drive sustainable development within our communities, drawing on the wealth of ideas, experience and good practice across our field.

Secondly, I want to set the focus on our libraries and our profession themselves. The last thirty years have, arguably, been a huge success for our institutions. Those who predicted our demise in the face of digital technology have been proven wrong, as we have shown our ability to adapt and considerably update our services to users.

Of course, we are not expecting that technological, political, economic, social or cultural evolutions are going to slow down, let alone stop. Therefore we need to ready ourselves to respond to ongoing change, and indeed to be able to pre-empt it, in order to ensure the sustainability of our institutions, of our profession, of our collections to the benefit of our users.

Thirdly, these will be important two years for IFLA itself. We will pass the half-way point in IFLA’s Strategy 2019-2024, and start working with the new set of governance structures so overwhelmingly endorsed by our Members in February 2021. Over the course of my Presidency, I want to enable IFLA as an organisation to harvest the fruits of all the great work that was lead in the last years by my predecessors , by the Members of the former Governing Boards and strongly supported and guided by IFLA’s Secretary General.

I believe that this is the best approach how we will ensure a sustainable future for IFLA itself, and hence create a strong and united library field that enables and powers literate, informed and participatory societies.

Let’s unite for a sustainable future!