Every IFLA Congress is different and a pretty unique experience for all people involved in this huge event. So was mine this year. Although not being a first timer, my third IFLA Congress included quite a few “firsts” such as my first satellite meeting, several meetings and duties I was committed or invited to as NPSIG Convenor, the IFLA Night Spot, Swedish food specialties, and many more. Unlike the others from our blogging team, I found no time at all to blog about all these things during the conference. Therefore here is my IFLA 2010 experience going through the whole conference week… watch out for the food.
Monday | The Global Librarian | Prologue
Without a doubt, my first highlight of this year’s IFLA journey was the NPSIG’s satellite meeting The Global Librarian, which was a big success. We were very happy to have around 70 people attending this one day event in Boras as participants and speakers – a lot of them being New Professionals and IFLA first timers.
The program was built around the internationalization of LIS careers and the profession in general. During the day we were dealing with topics such as library associations and new librarians, case studies from different countries, an innovative Library School model from the Netherlands, mobility and community building of New Professionals, mobile libraries, and how to become a global librarian.
As part of the organizing team I was really busy that day, all the more we had to cope with a difficult situation, because the key person of our team arrived only in the late afternoon due to a family emergency. Therefore, we had to do most of the organizational part on the fly and improvise a little bit along the way. But this was fun actually and things worked out quite well anyway. More than once I was thinking back to organizing the BOBCATSSS symposium in 2008 which had posed quite similar challenges to the organizing team (the other similarity was the atmosphere during the sessions with so many New Professionals involved, which reminded me of being at BOBCATSSS – quite a good sign in my opinion). One thing I particularly liked was the moderation of the sessions, which gave me the possibility to actively join a couple of presentations and to get some input as well. This also included the first presentation via Skype I experienced at a conference – nice!… although Robin could not see anything of us, which must have been quite strange for her while, on the other hand, being largely displayed on our screens.
The daily agenda was surrounded by two great keynotes. Right in the morning, Erik Boekjestein and Jaap van de Geer took the audience on an exciting ride through the last couple of years they have been on the road with their Shanachietour and, recently, with This week in libraries. At the moment, you will hardly find better persons to ask for advice, when it comes to global librarianship. Erik and Jaap are traveling the world looking for best practices and are telling fascinating stories from local libraries in a global context. They even filmed some parts of their presentation. I am curious when this stuff will be available online… you can already watch an interview with Scott Nicholson about gaming in libraries recorded the same day at the LIS school in Boras.
Pernille Drost, current President of the Danish Union of Librarians, held the Closing Keynote of our satellite meeting that was entitled “How library associations and library decision makers could work things out to retain, meet expectations and needs, and involve new members in their work.” In the context of an ongoing debate about the challenges of membership in many library associations around the world, she gave us valuable insights into her experiences in the case of Denmark and raised some very inspiring ideas and points to be considered by all parties involved:
- Technology and its pace are pushing the library organizations. If social media lets you meet your colleagues, why going to conferences, becoming a member of the library association anymore?
- Marketing is extremely important for library associations. Let people know about the benefits of joining them. Interesting comparison: Imagine food or beverage in a grocery store without any label about the ingredients… would you buy it anyway?
- Stakeholder analysis: Ask the people leaving the association and thereby create awareness (example from Denmark: phoner campaign).
- People are getting involved for a couple of years and then move on to another activity. This should be fine for us (maybe goals like “10-15 years” not achievable anymore).
- Danish Library Association: 1 President, 10 council members. One of them is a student – no voting rights, but very valuable input for the council.
- Generational gaps: Forming “youngster groups” could be difficult – tendency of patronizing these people and no impact on the Governing Board etc. This doesn’t solve the problem. We should rethink the hierarchical structures of library associations.
- Tendency: The young have the ideas, are innovative… but also the older generation has very valuable knowledge! They probably even have been library revoluzzers themselves in an earlier stage of their career, but maybe forgot about it meanwhile.
- Many initiatives in the Danish Library Association are addressing ALL the members. Of course, there are different attitudes amongst New Professionals and the older generations. But at the same time they just really often have similar opinions.
- A goal helps to get involved – join a section!
After a day full of sessions and input, all the participants gathered in the lobby for some networking drinks. We were also joined by the attendees of a second satellite meeting in Boras, organized by the Sections Library Theory and Research as well as Education and Training. Finally, I think the whole satellite meeting was a perfect starter for the IFLA week, because it gave everybody lots of thoughts about the very idea of IFLA on the way (internationalization and networking) and many contacts and new faces to get back to later during the week.
It is exactly this kind of intensified exchange of experience and networking between participants in a smaller group of people that gives satellite meetings a slightly different but very agreeable flavor then the main IFLA Congress. Another strange thing for me in this context: While leaving Boras on Monday evening I was feeling like I would need some vacation… but the really big event had not even started yet.
Tuesday | IFLA 2010 | Day 1