Presidential Theme: Strong Libraries, Strong Societies

Strong Libraries, Strong Societies
Bibliotecas fuertes para una sociedad fuerte
Starke Bibliotheken, Starke Gesellschaften
Des bibliothèques fortes pour des sociétés fortes
Сильные библиотеки, сильное общество
مكتبات قوية … مجتمعات قوية

Acceptance Speech

Delivered by Sinikka Sipilä at the 79th IFLA Congress in Singapore in 2013


My aim during my term as President of IFLA is to continue to promote libraries in their crucial role 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 builds on 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 content
  • 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 roles.

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.

Sinikka Sipilä

President's Programme


2nd IFLA President's Meeting
Date: 3-5 June

Location: Istanbul, Turkey
Theme: The Art of Transforming Libraries
Venue: Istanbul Bilgi University
Organisation: Istanbul Bilgi University; ANKOS (Anatolian University Libraries Consortium)


1st IFLA President's Meeting
Date: 22-24 May

Location: Helsinki, Finland
Theme: Strong Libraries – Strong Societies: Impact of Libraries on Society
Venue: Parliament Annex – Little Parliament
Organisation: Finnish Library Association, The Library of Parliament (Finland)