The 31st EBLIDA Council & Conference and 2nd EBLIDA–NAPLE–PL2030 Event will take place in Luxembourg, in the National Library, on 18-19 April 2023. A rich program is offered, balancing theoretical issues and careful attention to library practices, with a variety of voices from civil society, as well as (library) professionals, panel sessions and plenty of opportunities for interaction.
The bottom line of the conference, and its most resonant message, is that libraries are not self-referential institutions; they do not work in isolation. They reflect the needs of the communities they serve. Democratic values and sustainable development goals inspire the objectives they pursue, the operations they carry out, the methodologies and technologies they adopt. In this way they exert influence on people, underline diversity and create pre-requisites for the integration of minorities. In all their endeavors – from lifelong learning to digital literacy, from social cohesion to cultural heritage – they give a concrete meaning the common European identity.
This is the essence of library power. Shall we call it “soft power”, a concept that has proved effective in the theory of international relations? This power is not expressed “hardly”, through force and obligation, but in a gentle, but firm pledge towards a sustainable, democratic and equitable society. Is it linked to the more traditional notion of empowering citizens for a democratic and sustainable society? Is it both?
We need stronger libraries if we want a Europe that is stronger, cohesive and closer to its citizens.