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A welcome from IFLA's President

 Kay Raseroka
This is the first World Library and Information Congress held in South America. This is significant as it shows that IFLA is truly an international organisation. It also indicates that South American libraries have come of age and are ready to keep pace with their counterparts in other parts of the world. WLIC 2004 is also significant for another reason. The theme, 'Libraries as tools for education and development', is most relevant, as libraries are no longer on the fringes of education and development but at the heart of the process. Like schools, libraries have become core infrastructure for national development.

I am confident that the participants will take note of the growing importance of libraries and accordingly make a more concerted effort to gain more support for library development in their respective countries.

As is the practice WLIC 2004 has focused on library issues relevant to South America. We have published special issue of the IFLA journal on Libraries in South America and a large number of the speakers at this Congress are South Americans. The Congress is therefore a great platform to discuss the challenges and the way forward for libraries in the region with the insight of librarians from other regions facing similar challenges. This is one of the great benefits of being part of IFLA. You are never alone. You are part of the IFLA community that constantly analyses challenges, learns from varied experiences seeks as opportunities for innovative solutions are sought and shares strategies to develop libraries as centres of life-long education and self -development.

One special feature which IFLA has initiated at BA, with the support of IDRC and the Goethe Institute, is a workshop on Telecentres and Libraries the objective of which are to reach better understanding of information service approaches and challenges faced by both systems provide a platform for discovering shared core values as a basis for partnering in the information delivery process that empowers the diverse communities that are the global information society.

We hope that this workshop will result in telecentres and libraries forging mutually supportive presence within communities, to ensure maximal use of scarce human resources, infrastructure and integrating best practice from both systems, for the benefit of varied user needs within our communities.

Besides, providing a wide platform for professional discussions, WLIC 2004 offers great opportunities for a deeper appreciation of the rich information culture of the people of Argentina. We welcome the debates on the alternative way of addressing the need for broadening of the forum for discussing socially conscious approaches within the library and information science field. IFLA is committed to the core value of freedom of access to information and ideas that guide the various manifestos and practice of our profession. It is this fundamental spirit that empowers IFLA to engage in the search for the best way of fulfilling the ideals embedded in the core values. Thus IFLA welcomes the opportunity to discuss constructive ways of meeting the information needs of the majority of the communities who live in rural and marginalised urban environments. The presence of so many WILC delegates provides an opportunity for many who wish to understand the issues of concern that are being raised by the Latin American colleagues on social concerns.

IFLA acknowledges the integration of various approaches to communication of ideas as demonstrated by the commitment of CONABIP to sharing with WILC the grassroots information systems and the rich products of the Argentinian culture. Indeed, the Tango helps us, visitors from other continents, to connect with our hosts through the primordial emotional interaction embodied in our responses to local music and dance.

I wish each and every one of us a most rewarding intellectually stimulating week, joyful reunions and enriching professional relationships. I look forward, with much anticipation, to the opening session for the first taste of Argentinian culture and hospitality.

Once again welcome to WLIC 2004 in Buenos Aires!

Kay Raseroka
President of IFLA

August 2004

70th IFLA Conference Logo