21 March 2018

Leading the Way: IFLA President’s Meeting Opens New Perspectives

IFLA President's Meeting 2018

Libraries have long been drivers of pioneering ideas and innovation. From support for cutting-edge research to making a reality of literacy for all, they have shown a capacity for leadership in their communities and worldwide.

Under the theme 'Leading the Way: Libraries as Motors of Change', IFLA President, Glòria Pérez-Salmerón welcomed over 300 library professionals from all over the world to her first President’s Meeting on 19 March 2018 in Barcelona, Spain.

Echoing the theme of her presidency, she called on libraries everywhere to continue to realise their potential.

Libraries do not need to be the victims of change. They do not have to sprint to keep up with change. They can drive change.
Glòria Pérez-Salmerón

As fuel for the journey ahead, a programme of speakers from academia and politics, journalism and publishing, technology and story-telling provided ideas, experiences and insights. As a climax of the day, IFLA Secretary-General Gerald Leitner presented the summary report of the IFLA Global Vision discussion's first phase.


The keynote speaker, Rafael Ramirez, set the scene. The only certain thing about the future is that it is coming at us. By coming together, sharing perspectives, and developing plausible scenarios, we can develop strategies that give us the best chance of succeeding.

Your libraries focus on building citizens, not consumers. But what are the characteristics of the citizen of the future? What is the society that you will be serving?
Rafael Ramirez

Mercè Conesa i Pagès, President of Diputació Barcelona, spoke of her region's efforts to deliver smarter and more inclusive growth. In addition to unprecedented efforts to give access to public data and information, they were investing in making sure that everyone had the possibility and skills to use it.

Our citizens are demanding libraries — spaces for learning, creativity & innovation, to create ideas that open minds, that open doors to collaboration, to transformation & to changing the world.
Mercè Conesa i Pagès


Libraries power sustainable development, both on and offline. Iskra Mihaylova MEP, chair of the Regional Policy Committee at the European Parliament, underlined how information fed into smart regional growth strategies. She called on libraries to be proactive, to tell their representatives about the great work they are doing.

When authorities need to make informed decisions, they can rely on libraries as partners. In sustainable development libraries are key players: without them it is not possible!
Iskra Mihaylova


Libraries make the Internet more useful, they curate knowledge that equalises power. By building up digital skills, libraries legitimise and build public trust in the Internet.
Cassie Robinson

Cassie Robinson, Strategic Design Director at doteveryone, argued that libraries could lead the response to growing scepticism about the Internet. Their social mission, trusted status, and dedicated staff gave them a key role in ensuring the web works for all.


Libraries are unique, but they should not be isolated. At a time that IFLA is looking to develop collaboration internally, the speakers in the second session underlined the potential for libraries to build alliances outside of the field. Our values are shared by many others, and should be a basis for partnership.

Matt Finch, library storyteller, set out how the skills and engagement of librarians was already improving how hospitals were helping patients. Roger Baig Viñas presented his work to create community-based Internet service providers, and underlined how libraries could help.

For me, discovery, surprise, exploration, and the ability to do something the authorities didn't predict, lie at the heart of a user's encounter with a librarian.
Matt Finch

To bridge the Internet affordability gap, libraries can play a role as hubs for community networks. Openness, freedom & neutrality are characteristics of community networks, just like libraries.
Roger Baig Viñas


Digital technologies have led to rapid changes in the way we create, share and access information. They have brought many advantages, but also require new ways of working – and thinking – in order to protect against the potential negative consequences the Internet can bring.

​Glyn Moody, journalist, underlined that we risked facing a new dark age, with truth, expertise, knowledge, sharing and privacy all under attack. Libraries could lead the fightback.

Knowledge is under attack: academic publishers are trying to turn it into a luxury product. As librarians you should promote open access: libraries are expertise made visible.
Glyn Moody


Let’s get ourselves online, and create a platform to get the others online. Working together, pulling resources, takes us further. We can help other organizations to publish the way users expect.
Toby Green


Toby Green, Head of Publishing at the OECD, talked about his efforts to build new platforms and services to survive. Collaboration offered a great means of preserving and promoting what matters.


The climax of the day was the launch by Gerald Leitner, IFLA Secretary-General, of the summary report of the first phase of the IFLA Global Vision Discussion. This brings together the results of over 30 000 contributions, and represents an essential step towards turning the Vision into reality. You can read more in our press release

​The launch, as well as the opening by the IFLA Secretary General, Gerald Leitner, and President, Glòria Pérez-Salmerón, was live streamed.

Both videos are now available in IFLA’s YouTube channel. Where available, slides from the presentations will be made available in the President’s Meeting website.

IFLA is grateful to its partners, the Diputació BarcelonaFESABID, and L'Ateneu Barcelonès, for their support in organising this event, under the auspices of Diputació Barcelona. This event was made possible thanks to the sponsoring of e-Libro, and the support provided by the following organisations: IE LibraryCol·legi Oficial de Bibliotecaris-Documentalistes de CatalunyaUniversitat de BarcelonaBiblioteques de Barcelona, Biblioteca de Catalunya, and the Facultat de Biblioteconomia i Documentació.

IFLA President's Meeting 2018