On behalf of the National Committee, it is a great pleasure to welcome you all to the 85th World Library and Information Congress of IFLA in Athens, Greece which will take place from August 24 to August 30, 2019.
The theme “Libraries: dialogue for change” invites the Library and Information Science international community to discuss, re-examine, re-think and re-interpret the role of libraries as promoters of change. Dialogue is the utmost expression of democracy, the basis for the freedom of expression and information and thus, the gear for a better future. Libraries serve as open, free, democratic, inclusive and participatory meeting places and mediators between knowledge and people. In an era of rapid changes in the socio-economic-technological sphere, libraries ought to define their role as information providers, promoters of reading, settlers for the community they serve, key players in innovation, and leading actors for changes in the society. Libraries and society need to be in a constant, open dialectic relationship. This will lead to well-informed citizens facilitating progress and development, implementing the UN Agenda for Sustainable Development and leading to prosperity in all fields of the democratic society.
Greek libraries are also in a nodal point re-examining and re-defining their role, developing and promoting new information services, establishing collaborations and networks, incorporating cutting edge technologies, all with the view to meet the constantly changing needs of their audiences. Greek libraries face the challenges with optimism and work towards embedding new technological evolutions along with changes brought by a multicultural society. The National Committee will propose a programme for visiting more than 60 libraries of all types, not only in the greater Athens area but in other cities around Greece as well, combining them with excursions to the archaeological and cultural sites found nearby.
Here, in Athens, the cradle of democracy and the World Book Capital for 2018, Delegates will have the unique opportunity to discuss, under the light of the Temple of Athena (Parthenon), the challenges for our profession in the new millennium. In Athens, the first public library in history with the main objective of storing, preserving, and disseminating the written heritage was founded, almost the same time as the birth of Democracy, Philosophy, Science, and Theatre. The contemporary face
of the city, including the new premises of the National Library of Greece, will offer the opportunity to examine the past, present, and future of libraries in a continuous line, connecting different periods of history in the bright highway of our profession.
The summer in Athens is a unique experience. The proximity to the sea where the visitor can enjoy the clear waters of Argo-Saronic Gulf; the Athens Festival with its vast cultural programme with performances varied from ancient Greek Theatre to post-modern music concerts; the vivid night life; the multicultural neighbourhoods which can offer almost everything even to the most demanding traveler. We are sure that Delegates of the IFLA World Library and Information Congress will have the opportunity to explore the city’s life and live a part of the Athenian culture and atmosphere.
We look forward to welcoming you to the country that fosters open dialogue and discussion.