Inaugural Speech, February 2018, Los Angeles:
Ladies and gentlemen, friends and colleagues,
Was there ever a time since the founding of ILAB in 1947 when the importance of ILAB was greater? I would argue, the trade has never been more international, and therefore there has never been greater need for ILAB than now. It is therefore with a great sense of responsibility I take on the role of the 25th president of ILAB.
I recognise that the ILAB Presidency is a singular honour. However I am very well aware that the honour is not given lightly and expectations are and should be high. I see this leadership role as that of a coordinator of ideas, a facilitator of inclusion, a promoter of the high ethical standards, as well as someone who recognises problems and does their best to tackle them. I will not come up with all the ideas, I will not do all the work, but I intend to be the best coordinator I can be, a good listener, reflective and open to new ideas.
I am sure you will agree with me that a strong body known for its high standards is what we require representing the world of antiquarian booksellers. It is certainly what ILAB committees and affiliates have been striving for, for decades now and to a very great extent we have achieved this. However we are only as good as our weakest link and as a group we need to keep this in mind. Achieving high standards is a work in progress. ILAB is a unique international group. We are in a position to promise and deliver excellence and expertise to collectors and institutions. We need to grab this opportunity. Today’s world is one where ever increasingly customers seek reassurance – they are in a position to buy from anyone across the globe but they want to be sure that every aspect of their purchase will go well. We as affiliates, or as we more colloquially call ourselves members of ILAB, need to constantly consider our own behaviour and we need to press our own national associations to establish and maintain the highest standards. Because however you look at it ILAB is only the sum of all the national associations. ILAB does not tell you what to do. The ILAB Committee’s role is to investigate and to advise the presidents of the national associations, with whom the power of the League lies. What ILAB does is decided by the National Associations. This is why it is vital that if you want something changed, something done, you communicate this clearly with your national association – or contact me or one of the other members of the ILAB Committee.
Over my term as ILAB president there is much, I hope, we will achieve. We need to address issues surrounding good governance, we need to promote our booksellers to our market, look at developing the market by finding ways of developing interest in antiquarian materials in countries not served by a national association, we must communicate, we must continue our role in supporting newer booksellers through mentoring and promote education surrounding bookselling and the antiquarian trade. Most importantly of all we need to continue to work on making ILAB the gold standard, making sure that the ILAB logo is synonymous with integrity and honour. This is not something the ILAB Committee can do alone, we can advise, we can show the way but we cannot achieve this without YOU.
I believe there has never been a time when it is more necessary to offer to collectors and institutions a clear indication that ILAB is the organisation that represents the highest standards. A gathering of professional booksellers who deliver the best they can and if a problem occurs, as it inevitably can, booksellers who the buyer can be sure will work towards a sensible and fair solution without delay. Bookselling is global in the way it has never been before and this trend will undoubtedly continue to accelerate. More than ever people seek and need a brand that can be trusted. Uniquely ILAB is that brand.