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60th IFLA General Conference - August 21-27, 1994

Conference Programme and Proceedings

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Last Update: November 28, 1996

Address by Dr. Marta Terry to the Opening Session of the 60th General Conference of IFLA

Dear Colleagues:

In 1980 the first two Cuban librarians to attend an IFLA conference took part in the 56th Conference held in Manila. I would like to take this opportunity to pay tribute to a person who was not only a pioneer of Cuban representation at IFLA, but was also responsible for many other achievements in Cuban bibliology which you will be able to see for yourselves during these days. She is Dr. Olinta Ariosa who, although unable to attend, is present here in heart and spirit. We send her greetings and our warmest regards.

On the occasion of the 1985 IFLA Conference in Chicago, ASCUBI held its first talks, through us, with Elsa Grenheim and Margaret Wijstroom, then IFLA chair and secretary general, respectively, who offered their support, advice and warmth. At that time we discussed the possibility of holding an IFLA conference in our country since this event had never been hosted by any Latin American country. This was in itself an important motivation for them and it was also the desire of Cuban librarians to share our experiences with IFLA representatives, our colleagues from all over the world, and to show them the results of our professional work. In this context, it must be recalled that in the 30's librarians such as Marķa Villar Buceta and later on Maria Teresa Freyre, Blanca Bahamonde, Maruja Iglesias, Blanca Mercedes Mesa, and many others, with the support of the country's best writers and intellectuals, stressed the need for the training of librarians and the creation of libraries as part of a drive to enhance our people's cultural and educational standards. While they were publicly striving for these goals they were also, at times secretly and other times openly, battling for the necessary political and social transformations which could allow the realization of those seemingly unattainable ideals which have been translated into our modest but firm reality of today.

Such motivations were also understood by the next IFLA Chair and Secretary, Hans Peter Geh and Paul Nauta. It was during their term of office that Cuba was granted the venue of the 60th Conference.

And here we are at last, meeting on this day of 22 August, 1994, opening the 60th General Conference of IFLA in this room in the Havana Convention Center, which has hosted so many important meetings in the history of our country and the development of Cuban arts and sciences and the promotion of solidarity with Cuba.

We would also like to avail ourselves of this occasion to recognize the importance to the Cuban library community of our relations with IFLA. IFLA has made it possible for Cuba to become professionally a part of contemporary bibliology. IFLA has opened the world to us by facilitating bilateral links with libraries from all countries and serving as a vehicle for the mutual exchange of information, knowledge and experience. In short, IFLA has brought about tangible improvement in Cuban bibliology.

And that is not all; through IFLA we have received a great deal of material and professional assistance, contributed to our country as solidarity aid by libraries from a number of countries.

In summary, we can safely state that the benefits obtained by Cuba through IFLA have in fact been tantamount to breaking the blockade in our professional field.

The 60TH General Conference of IFLA has been both an honor and a challenge for Cuba. This conference is an event of major importance for all Cuban librarians as well as for the Cuban Ministry of Culture, our Government and Party.

Each library in every community and every province, each documentation center and special library in the country has in one way or another contributed to ensuring the successful outcome of this conference, and each one of them sends you all its warmest greetings. On their behalf and indeed on my own behalf I extend to you our cordial welcome and a hearty embrace from all Cubans.

Thank you