My experience in attending the 85th IFLA General Conference and Assembly held August 24-30, 2019 in Athens, Greece which had the theme, “Libraries: dialogue for change”, was fabulous as I had never had the opportunity to travel to Europe and much less to an IFLA congress. What I experienced during the days of the congress and in the city of Athens, set the tone to broaden my panorama and my vision of librarianship.
I am very enthusiastic about how much I learned and met people from different parts of the world, about sharing ideas and experiences from the different contexts in which we live within libraries in different regions of the world. Being my first Congress and being unfamiliar with the dynamics of it, I feel that I missed some important opportunities, but in general I bring to my country the enormous satisfaction of having seen and knowing that Latin America has much potential to participate with greater involvement in the tasks of librarianship worldwide in pursuit of the objectives of the United Nations Agenda 2030.
I never imagined being able to participate in an event of such magnitude, but thanks to the Academic and Research Libraries Section (ARL) with generous sponsorship by Ex Libris and SAGE, I was able to achieve it, definitely something changed in me and I feel renewed and with a lot of vitality to continue with my projects, right there I made friends with a Brazilian girl who contacted other Brazilian girls with whom I have given myself the task of collaborating in matters of penitentiary libraries.
As I mentioned in my letter of introduction, I have never liked to keep anything to myself and I have tried to share my experience with my colleagues, arguing that we have a great responsibility with our profession and with people, that it is time to get down to work. We usually think that everything is done and that a Latin American cannot do much, but the reality is that we have a lot to offer.
In short, something that surprised me was the ARL committee since all the members seem to me to be very united and excellent people committed to their work, personally I want to congratulate all of them because this noble action of providing this kind of support to young people has given me a lot of sense, I am an energetic librarian committed to providing my grain of sand to contribute to society and help people. In this sense I want to mention that the master’s thesis that I am about to finish has to do with the involvement of the librarian as an agent of social change seen from the perspective of human development. It has become much stronger and now I can see that indeed, this kind of opportunity can change one life and that life, perhaps, can change other lives.
The majesty of the acropolis made me reflect on knowledge and how it happens in different parts of the world. So in all these parts of the world there will be an urgent need for librarians to help manage and also to help build new knowledge.
I feel encouraged to participate more frequently in IFLA and would like to be part of some committee where I can do my best to continue to contribute to development in the library field where it reflects social change by reducing poverty, hunger and inequality, where there is better health and well-being, better education, and where there is peace and justice for all. I trust that I will do what I can from wherever I am and with whatever I have to raise the profession, evoking principles and values that will allow me to be constant in this fight to reduce social inequality, dignifying people.
Humberto Martínez Camacho, Mexico
IFLA ARL Grant Winner 2019