Working meeting at IFLA Headquarters – envisioning the future of IFLA’s online activities

Three weeks ago an exciting working meeting took place at IFLA Headquarters in The Hague. Maybe you already got an impression by taking a look at our photostream. But now it is high time to give you some further information about the discussions at IFLA HQ.


The intention of the meeting was to think about the future look and feel of IFLA’s online activities. Over the week, each day was dedicated to a specific topic such as:

At the same time, we went back to a kind of meta point of view on a regular basis to look for connections between each of the projects. To cover a broad spectrum of backgrounds and experiences during the discussions, IFLA had invited guests from all over the world (Egypt, Germany, Puerto Rico, Singapore, South Africa, USA) who represented different types of libraries/institutions and areas of expertise as well as different age-groups. Of course, the group was also joined by IFLA Headquarters stuff. So here it is, the IFLA think tank crew…

very international IFLA think tank crew
very international IFLA think tank crew

Heavy brainstorming

Concerning our daily working routine, the magic word was “brainstorming”. 😉 Aaron Schmidt did a fantastic job by moderating the sessions and guiding us actively through the different steps of a rather complex model which is normally used for product design in the private sector – a very interesting experience! This gave us the possibility to approach the different topics from various directions asking for the audience of an IFLA project like the Success Stories Database, specific tasks the audience wants to accomplish, the priority and relation between these tasks, how IFLA can or cannot respond to these needs etc.

one of the brainstorming sessions
one of the brainstorming sessions

Without a doubt, one of the most interesting parts in this context was what we referred to as our ‘pie in the sky’: Brainstorming ideas for services and tools responding to the users needs without thinking about costs or other obstacles. Sometimes we also sat down in smaller working groups to do a little role play or to spontaneous design the look of a website or a profile. You can imagine that we filled a good deal of flip charts within our sessions and we had a lot of fun while doing all these different tasks – although it was quite hard sometimes to get to the root of a certain matter. All the findings and ideas we collected are about to be examined and transformed into a summary for IFLA Headquarters for further usage. Hopefully a lot of them will be realized soon!

taking a break
taking a break

Overall tendencies

Neither do I have all our findings at hand, nor could I reproduce everything because of the sheer mass of it. But before going into detail in terms of the New Professionals, here are some overall tendencies we discovered during the meeting:

  • There are lots of connections between the topics and projects we talked about. So it would not make any sense at all to handle the World Report, services surrounding the IFLA Congress, a New Professionals’ platform etc. separately. Therefore, an integrated approach has to be chosen that is flexible and enables a combination of all resources on the fly. One example of a possible scenery: An online map including information from country profiles (World Report), peoples’ profiles, and further information about success stories, upcoming events and many more.
  • Quite often we came back to the importance of networking and saw that some sort of personal profiles would be very useful for certain purposes at the IFLA website. As most parts of the people are already registered at Facebook, LinkedIn and other social networks, we agreed that mini-profiles and the inclusion of already existing information via widgets could be a way to go.
  • More visualization is needed to give the IFLA services a fresher look and make them attractive for all user groups (the younger generation, in particular)!
  • More promotion is needed to make the LIS community know about these resources.
  • User generated content has to be displayed prominently on IFLA’s main website.

Working on New Professionals

The day we brainstormed about New Professionals, our main goal was to envision a site or a platform to support New Professionals. I gave an introduction to the topic by reporting on the BOBCATSSS workshop and its outcome.

close to start the day
close to start the day

After this we took a step back  on a more general level and first asked ourselves about the reasons why to join a library association.

reasons for becoming a member of a library association
some of the reasons for becoming a member of a library association

As you can see in the next picture, it took us quite a bit to find adequate major categories that cover all aspects. Finally, we agreed on professional benefits, fringe benefits (thanks again for this idea, Petrina! ;)), learning, active participation and networking.

building categories
building categories

Now it was time for the ‘pie in the sky’: We approached these categories again, but this time from the New Professionals’ point of view. It was about to find interesting services and concepts that would hopefully help IFLA to attract and actively involve more New Professionals (NPs). This led to a whole bunch of good ideas…

Professional Benefits
  • job links on website
  • career choosing guide
  • online job fair with letting people list their skills
  • NP of the month
  • host online congress
  • one NP per session at IFLA congress
  • one NP per standing committee
  • have a BOBCATSSS forum at IFLA conference
  • facilitate NP conferences internationally and link them together
  • IFLA intervention for NPs with library directors
  • ask what NPs want to have live streamed from IFLA conferences
  • rethink the call for student papers
  • include NP content on main IFLA site
  • integrate LIS coursework and contributing to IFLA site
  • explore peer mentoring
  • explore library exchange programs
Daily conference content online
  • aggregate existing user generated content
  • incentivize NP contribution (connect to grants)
  • include hashtag in print and online program to help people follow and broadcast individual sessions
  • create a guide to following the conference online
  • meet speakers online after sessions
  • “blogger” badge, physical and online
  • access to press room and people to interview


Earlier, I pointed to the general tendency of personal profiles. If you think about providing an online job fair, having a “New Professional of the month” or hosting online conferences (including webinars and other forms of communication), it becomes clear that personalization, to a certain extent, is also implied in the New Professionals’ area.

One of the big issues of our discussion was the online accessibility of IFLA congresses. As New Professionals often cannot afford to attend conferences, they should at least be able to follow online what is going on at the congress. Amongst others, this means a better aggregation of user generated web 2.0 content at the IFLA website as well as online sessions with the possibility to get in touch with the people on-site, live-streaming and providing recorded presentations online for later use.

Interestingly, these demands are not only useful for New Professionals. They would actually be of big interest for the whole LIS public as well. This circumstance marked a difficulty in terms of our original idea for that day: to think about an IFLA platform for New Professionals. If some crucial features are valuable for everybody, what should be displayed in a special New Professionals’ area then? Next day, we tried to give this kind of platform a shape by playing a game called “Divide the Euro”. Here we go with the rules: Every group had to spend 100 € (virtually) on at least nine different features that an IFLA website for New Professionals should offer. We were asked to give a reason for choosing a certain feature and to weight the priority of it. The amount of money spent had to be different for each feature. Have a look at one very nice example…

spend the Euro - example
divide the Euro - example

It is great to see all these wonderful ideas that came up during our brainstormings and discussions. They mean a lot of inspiration for the activities of the NPSIG. Although some of them will pobably take a little longer to be realized, we will definitely work on several of them in the short run! We can be sure about the support of IFLA Headquarters in this process. I am also very glad that IFLA sees the relevance of New Professionals for the development of its organization and of the LIS profession in general and therefore included them in the agenda of this unique meeting!

So what is it like at IFLA HQ?

I have never been at IFLA Headquarters before, so you certainly understand that I was very excited to go to the “heart of IFLA” for the first time…

approaching the Koninklijke Bibliotheek
approaching the Koninklijke Bibliotheek
taking the elevator to IFLA HQ
taking the elevator to IFLA HQ

Of course, finally it is just about a normal floor with a couple of offices situated in the building of the Koninklijke Bibliotheek (KB). 😉

the heart of IFLA
the heart of IFLA

BUT the atmosphere is really enjoyable. You will find lots of glas and a very open space which leads to conversation and exchange. Some fascinating exhibitions of the KB are nearby as well.

treasures of the KB
treasures of the KB

And I know one more thing for sure: If you happen to be around, you can meet really bright people and have a great time with them! 😉

having a great time
(@ dok library concept center)

6 thoughts on “Working meeting at IFLA Headquarters – envisioning the future of IFLA’s online activities

  1. Excellent work everybody and thanks to Sebastian for this thorough and informative report.
    You are the future of IFLA and IFLA content and programs need to tend to your interests and skillsets.
    I hope that brainstorming sessions like this which involve the next generation of IFLA leaders continues.

  2. Indeed, better things are ahead. Thanks for keeping us informed through your wonderful report.

  3. Tons of excellent ideas! Very impressive! Thanks for the great report.

  4. Great stuff! Very interesting, and lovely to see the KB again. More of this, please, and good luck with the project.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s