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What a year it’s been! 2018 in review



My first calendar year as President-elect of IFLA has been amazing. I’ve been able to meet so many friends and colleagues and hear what great work is being done in and for libraries. I’ve been to wonderful and exotic places. And I’m experiencing the transformation of IFLA thanks to the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation Global Libraries’ Legacy as we look forward to an exciting future.

Starting with exotic places, a memory that will stay until I am old - stepping out in front of my hotel in Tunis at lunchtime, not too many people around, the light honey colour of the colonial buildings, and the call to prayer echoing around me as I walked across the square. I felt as though I was on a film set, it was so evocative and other-worldly.

More special places - the National Library and National Museum in Naypyidaw, Myanmar. The theatre at Aspendos, Turkey, knowing that people have been entertained there for 2,000 years. Sailing down the river in the evening in Surabaya, Indonesia and it looking so pretty with the festive lights strung above, having been brought back from a very poor state to good health by a determined Mayor.

Firsts - swimming in the Mediterranean, visiting the Louvre and seeing the Mona Lisa, being in falling snow (well actually that was in Dec 2017), experiencing Barcelona and Istanbul. The trauma of getting stuck in a self-cleaning toilet in Vernon, France.

Being part of IFLA’s Global Vision project, loving the workshops in Tunis, Paris and Hanoi, where committed and dedicated colleagues produced great ideas for IFLA and the library field. Pre-planning in Seattle for the recent Governing Board strategic planning workshop and then the workshop in The Hague, where we found we really are aligned. The delight of being part of a Governing Board that is visionary, committed and practical.

WLIC 2018 in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, the warmth of the welcome, the superb organisation, the easily navigated Convention Centre, the great programs, the fellowship of colleagues from around the world and the great kindness of our hosts.

Visiting libraries including a hard hat tour of the new Utrecht Library, the vibrant Quezon City Library in Manila, the Public Library in Surabaya where programs and services are innovative and changing people’s lives. Seeing the winner of the 2018 Public Library of the Year - School 7 in Den Helder, The Netherlands. Workshop meetings in the National Libraries of Tunisia and Vietnam, the wonderful maritime museum in Barcelona and feeling (a bit) like a student again at the The Cité Internationale Universitaire de Paris. Being at the opening ceremony of a brand-new National Library - truly a special occasion in Doha, Qatar.

Working with Pacific colleagues in Suva, Fiji to develop a way forward for libraries in the Pacific - and hearing how resourceful and committed librarians and archivists are reaching out to their communities bringing reading and information about their heritage to where they are.

Local conferences and seminars - SDGs in Newcastle, Geelong and Lake Macquarie, INELI-Oceania story at APLIC on the Gold Coast, Pacific Library Network strategic action planning in Brisbane and library education and research at Monash University in Melbourne.

And most of all - the joy of connecting with good friends and meeting new colleagues around the world. What a wonderful, magical, eventful and inspiring year it has been. I can’t wait for 2019!!

*Photo: IFLA President Gloria Perez-Salmeron, Secretary General Gerald Leitner and me in front of Petronas Towers Kuala Lumpur August 2018.


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