16 August 2016

From the Annual Conference

Opening Session Address by IFLA Secretary General Gerald Leitner

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It´s marvellous to look in this room, seeing the best of the best from the world´s library field gathered here. There is so much energy in the room and it makes me confident that IFLA—which means all of us together—will tackle the enormous challenges of the future.

And I am totally convinced that in the face of rapidly growing globalization, a worldwide powerful acting IFLA is needed more than ever.

IFLA is unique in its global reach and representation. For me as the new Secretary General, it´s absolutely fascinating to see IFLA’s 120 national associations and over 1300 members from  nearly 140 countries as a powerful network with enormous potential for cooperation, as well as national, regional and global advocacy.

IFLA’s 64 sections, special interest groups and strategic programmes gather more than 1.200 experts from all library types that work with issues that concern library staff and library users.

That is the biggest, most exciting, incomparable brain trust in the library community.

That´s you! What a treasure for a Secretary General.

We have seen in the last decade a fantastic development of IFLA to a modern, professional working association, with inspired leaders, a great young team in the headquarter and the support of highly motivated volunteers of the worldwide library community.

But I am also convinced that we can successfully tackle the upcoming challenges only when we join our forces and act more closely together. For this, IFLA must increase engagement with its members to lead this work in a new, more inclusive way that reaches all regions and sectors.

We have to initiate a consultative process that ensures that regions and professional units participate in identifying key priorities and help IFLA to develop the most fitting and optimal support for the library community.

You will see and hear how we aim to accomplish this at several sessions, such as, the National Associations Meeting and the Officers Forum. And you will get the bigger picture at the General Assembly.

We are going to transform IFLA into a more inclusive and participatory organization. And I hope you will proudly say in some years: “I was there when it all started in Columbus, Ohio, back in August 2016.”

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, enjoy Columbus and see you all at the General Assembly on Wednesday, if not sooner.

Gerald Leitner
IFLA Secretary General

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