LEADERS’ CONVERSATIONS 2021 ▏Visualising Our Future: Masterplans of Libraries and Archives
By Zhejiang Library | November 12, 2021

Jointly presented by the National Library Board, Singapore and the IFLA Regional Office for Asia and Oceania, in support of the IFLA Global Vision, the Leaders’ Conversations series is a global digital platform launched in 2020 for library and archives leaders to share insights and developments of their institutions. This year’s theme is Visualising Our Future: Masterplans of Libraries and Archives. This theme is particularly poignant to the library and archives world as we face multiple challenges these two years. The conversations will focus on the future we envisage and the plans we have to carry out to achieve our vision beyond these challenges.



Leaders’ Conversations for the National Libraries was held on 1st Nov 2021, SGT 5.30pm – 7.30pm on Zoom. Xiong Yuanming, director of the National Library of China, and the leaders of many world-renowned national libraries, including National Library of Australia, National Library of Finland, National Library of Singapore, British Library, and National Library of Indonesia attended the meeting.



Leaders’ Conversations for the Public Libraries was held on 9 Nov 2021, SGT4.30pm – 6.30pm on Zoom. Barbara Lison, IFLA President , Gerald Leitner, IFLA Secretary General , Sidsel Bech-Petersen, Head of Innovation and Co-creation, Aarhus Public Libraries, Dr Rashidah Bolhassan, President, Librarians’ Association of Malaysia, Ng Cher Pong, Chief Executive Officer, National Library Board, Singapore attended the meeting. Vicki McDonald, State Librarian and CEO, State Library Queensland, Chu Shuqing, Director and Professor of Library Science, Zhejiang Library and Catherine Lau, Assistant Chief Executive, Archives & Libraries Group, National Library Board, Singapore was also present as special guests. They had a lively discussion on the current situation and future development plans of the library under the epidemic situation.



The meeting was chaired by Gene Tan, assistant chief executive of Partnership & Strategy Group of the National Library of Singapore. Ms. Lison and Mr. Leitner gave the first speeches. They spoke highly of the achievements of National Libraries held previously, expressed expectation to this meeting for public libraries and hoped that libraries around the world could unite and cope with challenges together. Three public library leaders from Denmark, Malaysia and Singapore delivered keynote speeches respectively.


Sidsel Bech-Petersen introduced the current situation of the Aarhus Public Libraries and the planning and prospects for the future development of the public library  through three parts namely "Drivers for Radical Transformation", "Hubs for Democracy" and "Spaces for Creative".


In the future development, Aarhus Libraries hope to build a library "Dream Factories" with the earth as the center, and provide services to the public from a more diversified perspective. At the same time, it is also planned to add natural elements to the library to promote the sustainable development of public libraries.



Rashidah Bolhassan introduced the development status of public libraries in Malaysia. Malaysia currently has 1 national library, 5 community libraries, 340 state libraries and 1,099 county libraries. The Malaysian libraries under the epidemic redefine library services, improve library leadership, cultivate ability and creativity, and create library learning courses so that people can access the library on an equal footing. At the same time, the Malaysian Libraries are committed to bringing library services outside and providing services to the public on different occasions.



She also emphasized in her speech the value of the librarians. It is the librarians who determine the service mode of the library, and we as librarians should think more deeply about how to improve the value of the library.



Ng Cher Pong shared Singapore’s newly released Libraries and Archives Blueprint 2025 (LAB25). In this blueprint, they have established four roles for public libraries: Learning Marketplace, Informed Citizenry, Singapore Storyteller, and Equalizer. They hope to provide support to people from all walks of life in the rapidly developing social, cultural and economic environment.



The three special guests introduced the current situation of the library where they are located, the strategic plans/developments of the library and breakthroughs in their library masterplan. The attendees also discussed the future development direction of the library, such as the ways to attract non-library users and to creat a third space.



The Leaders’ Conversations for the Archives and for the Academic libraries will be held respectively on 17 November 2021, SGT 4pm – 6pm and 22 November 2021, SGT 3pm – 5pm on Zoom Webinar.