The New National Library of Greece is an Excellent Example, Leslie Weir Says

The National Library in Athens. (Photo by Eurokinissi)

ATHENS – “National Libraries share many interests and I look forward to working with the National Library of Greece on the best practice of the changing roles of national libraries,” Leslie Weir, Librarian and Archivist of Canada, said in an interview with the Athens-Macedonian News Agency (ANA).

“In the early 2000s, with the move to digital, the end of the library was forecast, but libraries were actually one of the drivers to digital and understanding the possibilities that digital created, began to reinvent themselves,” she said.

“On August 17th, The New York Times referred to libraries as ‘Tourist Attractions,’ highlighting many newly constructed libraries as showcases in their cities. The new National Library of Greece is an excellent example,” she added.

The full interview with Dimitris Manolis follows:

DM: How is technology changing the future of libraries? How will libraries evolve as the world goes digital?

LW: Early adopters of technology, libraries actually helped create the digital world we live in today. Libraries digitize our heritage, provide access to e-books and e-magazines, create virtual exhibits and offer new and innovative digital services. Libraries engage with all members of our community, including immigrants, children, youth and the elderly, as well as people with disabilities and small business people. In the early 2000s, with the move to digital, the end of the library was forecast, but libraries were actually one of the drivers to digital and understanding the possibilities that digital created, began to reinvent themselves. Libraries have and continue to develop new services and cultural events that leverage everything digital and respond to the interests and needs of their communities. If fact, today libraries welcome millions into their renovated spaces and newly constructed buildings, as well as virtually on the web. On August 17th, The New York Times referred to libraries as ‘Tourist Attractions’, highlighting many newly constructed libraries as showcases in their cities. The new National Library of Greece is an excellent example!

DM: What is your primary aim as Librarian and Archivist of Canada during your four-year term? What are the main challenges you are currently facing?

LW: My primary aim is to raise the profile of Library and Archives Canada through enhanced digital presence, responsive services and public programming, and engagement with the public in our new buildings and spaces.

DM: What’s the significance of the 85th International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions – IFLA – Congress and Assembly which takes place in Athens?

LW: This 85th International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions – IFLA – Congress and Assembly is a special Congress that will go down in history, as IFLA transforms itself into the 21st century global library organization. The results of the Global Visioning initiative which began in 2017 in Athens has come full circle to launch the IFLA Roadmap at WLIC 2019 Athens. We will Inspire, Engage, Enable, and Connect the global library community. ‘Let’s work together’, the theme going forward for the next two years, emphasizes the IFLA commitment to collaboration within the library community in cooperation with other cultural institutions, government and industry.

DM: What is your view about the National Library of Greece and what opportunities do you see for cooperation with the Canadian Library and Archives?

LW: National Libraries share many interests and I look forward to working with the National Library of Greece on the best practice of the changing roles of national libraries. Library and Archives Canada is launching its own project to build a new joint facility with the Ottawa Public Library and I am sure that we can learn from the experiences of the Greek National Library in building their impressive new signature building at the Stavros Niarchos Foundation Cultural Center!

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