Libraries knock down borders and open the door to knowledge
QUEBEC CITY, Aug. 8 /CNW Telbec/ - Quebec City will host the world's
biggest gathering of librarians from August 10 to 14. The World Library and
Information Congress - IFLA 2008, will see close to 4,000 library and
information professionals from 150 countries come together at the Quebec City
Entitled "Libraries without borders: Navigating towards global
understanding," the gathering invites information professionals to reflect on
the mission and future of libraries in a world undergoing major changes.
Hundreds of conference speakers and panelists will meet with the 4,000
delegates to discuss the issues surrounding the preservation and dissemination
of documentary heritage, namely the digital shift, equal access to
information, freedom of expression, the social and economic impact of
libraries, and the role of libraries as public forums promoting social
integration, continuing education, and the sustainable development of society.
"Libraries knock down borders and open the door to knowledge. They play a
key role in educating and emancipating the public. They help develop
individuals and communities that are informed, creative, and educated," says
Claude Bonnelly, chair of the IFLA 2008 Congress national organizing
committee. "Some four out of ten people worldwide visit libraries. In Canada,
libraries spend an estimated $2.7 billion annually. In Quebec, more than half
of people age 15 and older visit a library at least once a year. All of which
is to say that our libraries are alive and well!"
A congress in seven languages
ASTED (Association pour l'avancement des sciences et des techniques de la
documentation) has been preparing this prestigious congress since 2003 in
close cooperation with Bibliothèque et Archives nationales du Quebec (BAnQ),
Library and Archives Canada (LAC), Université Laval, and also with many
national and provincial associations.
Since IFLA's inception in 1927, the conference has only been held twice
in Canada: in Toronto in 1967 and Montreal in 1982. "A UNESCO world heritage
site and the cradle of the French language and culture in North America,
Quebec City is without doubt the ideal venue for such an event," notes Mr.
Bonnelly. Due to the diversity of the congress's guests, activities will be
simultaneously interpreted into seven languages: English, French, Spanish,
German, Russian, Chinese, and Arabic.
Canada, a benchmark
Libraries also play a leading role among cultural institutions dedicated
to defending and preserving heritage. Technology has brought librarians closer
to disciplines like archives administration and museology, as demonstrated by
a host of digital projects around the world. Quebec and the rest of Canada
have led the way, each recently merging their respective national library and
archives in the spirit of creativity that brings this environment to life.
In anticipation of IFLA 2008 in Quebec City, Library and Archives Canada
and Bibliothèque et Archives nationales du Québec worked in partnership to
publish a book entitled Reaching Out: Innovation in Canadian Libraries
showcasing the fascinating experiments and innovations carried out by staff in
libraries across the country. A copy of the book will be given to each IFLA
"This book is about change. Change is a fact of life for libraries. Their
ability to change has allowed them to thrive through the centuries," declared
the Chair and Chief Executive Officer of Bibliothèque et Archives nationales
du Québec, Lise Bissonnette. "But today, their metamorphosis is more
spectacular than ever. From villages to megalopolises, libraries have become
thriving places of gathering, more animated and democratic than ever.
Furthermore, they have become models for the promotion and communication of
culture and knowledge thanks to their intelligent and remarkably creative use
of emerging virtual capabilities."
"Libraries sit at the heart of the community, and are informed by
everything that takes place around them," said Ian E. Wilson, the Librarian
and Archivist of Canada. "By reaching out into the community itself, as the
examples in this book demonstrate, Canada's library network has created
unprecedented access to information, made a difference in individual lives,
and make a vital contribution to the knowledge society of the 21st century."
"It is wonderful to be in a country so renowned for its multiculturalism,
a subject that is cherished by librarians the world over. This aspect of
Canadian diversity will inspire much of our work, and I can't wait to
experience the diversity that all the world's cultures have brought to this
country. Without wishing to claim that we operate on the same level, I can't
help but remark the similarities between the Canadian model and our work at
IFLA," says IFLA president Claudia Lux.
A meeting bearing the mark of international solidarity
Libraries from around the world all pursue similar objectives and face
the same challenges, but they do so while affirming their own cultural and
social diversity. Diversity, complementarity, openness, mutual assistance, and
international solidarity are therefore the values that will run as a leitmotiv
throughout the congress. This not only creates tremendous diversity of skills
and know-how, it also brings a series of challenges when it comes to balancing
strengths and resources. Discussions will be held in a spirit of openness,
mutual assistance, and international solidarity, as highlighted by IFLA
president Claudia Lux, herself originally from Germany. "I am convinced that
all of us librarians and information professionals are helping build a better
world every time we take part in programs organized by our communities,
regions, institutions, businesses, governments, and international
organizations. In spite of our economic, social, and political differences, we
each make a significant contribution by providing access to resources of
interest to everyone: information and knowledge."
ASTED and the Canadian Library Association have created BiblioMondialis,
a new cooperation body, for the 2008 IFLA Congress. The body aims to help
colleagues in developing countries take part in the Quebec City congress. Ten
grants have been made available to enable them to attend the one and only
opportunity for library and information professionals from all disciplines and
all parts of the world to come together.
The International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions
(IFLA) was founded in 1927. It aims to promote the development of first-class
libraries and documentation services around the world. IFLA is a
nongovernmental and nonpolitical organization that brings together over 1,700
associations, institutions, and individuals in 150 countries worldwide.
Association pour l'avancement des sciences et des techniques de la
documentation (ASTED) is a nonprofit, Quebec-based cultural and scientific
association that has been in existence since 1973. ASTED is dedicated to
advancing the science and techniques of documentation by bringing together its
members' expertise, publications, activities of all sorts, services, and the
ties it maintains with documentation and information bodies as well as society
as a whole.
About Library and Archives Canada
As a leading institution, Library and Archives Canada's mandate is to
preserve the documentary heritage of Canada for the benefit of present and
future generations and facilitate in Canada, cooperation among communities
involved in the acquisition, preservation and diffusion of knowledge. It is a
source of enduring knowledge accessible to all, contributing to the cultural,
social and economic advancement of Canada and serves as the continuing memory
of the government of Canada and its institutions.
About Bibliothèque et Archives nationales du Québec
Bibliothèque et Archives nationales du Québec is a cultural institution
whose mission is to acquire, preserve and disseminate the publications,
archival documents and films constituting Québec and Québec-related
documentary heritage. The institution also offers all Quebecers free access-on
site, on the Internet and through interlibrary loan-to vast universal
collections and to the services of a major public library. BAnQ encompasses
the Grande Bibliothèque, a preservation centre and nine archives centres in
Montréal, Québec City, Gatineau, Rimouski, Rouyn-Noranda, Saguenay, Sept-Iles,
Sherbrooke and Trois-Rivières.
About Université Laval
Located in Quebec's historic capital, a World Heritage City, Université
Laval is the first French-language university in North America. It is one of
Canada's leading research universities, ranking 8th among the country's 93
university-level institutions in terms of research funding with $259 million
devoted to research last year. Université Laval's 1,500 professors-researchers
share their knowledge with 38,000 students, 10,000 of whom are enrolled in
For further information:
For further information: Jonathan Gendron, HKDP Communications and
Public Affairs, (418) 929-2318, firstname.lastname@example.org; Source: World Library and
Information Congress, IFLA 2008, www.ifla.org