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Transforming the Library, Transforming the Society : Indonesia Library Association



The theme of the 16th Indonesia Library Association National Congress held in Surabaya 9 – 11 October was Transforming the Library, Transforming the Society. It was attended by around 700 librarians from all over Indonesia. Surabaya is the second biggest city in Java, and is a business centre for the region.

The conference was opened by the Secretary of East Java Province, Dr Heru Chayono, The Director of the National Library of Indonesia, Sri Sularsih, and the

President of the Indonesian Library Association,

Dedi Junaedi. Traditional dancers and musicians also performed at the evening ceremony. I liked the theme of the conference because it used active words to describe its purpose. We are all on a journey of transformation - and we know the power of libraries, how they can change lives; whether that is in the magnificent new National Library Building, which at 24 floors I was told is the biggest National Library in the world, or in a small municipal library.

The Indonesian library field has a very strong commitment to improving literacy. With low literacy levels, particularly in the rural areas, it is recognised that this must be the main focus of libraries. The Salam Literasi campaign was prominent during the conference and has obviously struck a chord with library practitioners.

In my presentation I spoke about the Global Vision for libraries and also about advocacy - how to speak out for libraries, how libraries can help countries achieve their Sustainable Development Goals and the important role that libraries play in literacy and learning. I also emphasised that libraries contain human kind’s intellectual heritage. The week before the Indonesian conference I was in Side in Turkey and visited the ancient Greco Roman ruins, where the remains of a library from the 2nd Century are still standing. Libraries have always been an integral part of human development and as we move into an increasingly online visual world, they will remain so. Libraries have been transforming themselves for the past 2,000 years and we must continue to do that.

The City of Surabaya is fortunate to have a very proactive and progressive Mayor, Dr (H.C.) Tri Rismaharini, who is working to develop the city as a smart and sustainable city. She has made real inroads into this agenda, by cleaning up the river and planting many trees as well as promoting a digital agenda with free wifi in the city and other initiatives.

I was delighted that I was able to visit the Surabaya Public Library, which was busy and full while I was there. The library has an important local history collection and also provides a small mobile library that travels to schools and other venues for story times. The staff are very proud of their library and the programs and services they offer.

Indonesian library leaders are eager to be more involved internationally and to have greater interaction with IFLA. The annual meeting of the Indonesian Library Association elected a new President for the next 3 years, and he, as I am, is enthusiastic about the future of libraries in Indonesia.

I would like to thank the wonderful Indonesian colleagues, particularly Utami Hariyadi and Echa for their warm and generous hospitality.

(photo: Surabaya Public Library with Nuris Agusti and Melikon Koten)


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