For me, attending the IFLA 2010 World Library and Information Congress (WLIC) -conference (typically called just “IFLA”) was in part an attempt to get a grasp of Internation Federation of Library Associations and Institutions (IFLA) itself, the organisation. It’s quite a massive beast. For me it has been mostly a logo here and there, and some policies occasionally referred to.
Many of the other first timers said quite the same. I guess IFLA being such a generalist organization, it doesn’t easily seem relevant to a lot of the generic librarians all of us are. Oh well, i know i can help the situation myself and advocate IFLA to my colleagues and we all can do the same. Staying up-to-date on IFLA -news is necessary of course, and keeping an eye on the IFLA publications is a good way to get a deeper idea what the organisation does. IFLA Journal would be the most central of these, i find.
But first and foremost we must believe that IFLA is relevant to all new professionals, and be able to explain it to fresh colleagues of ours. IFLA works as a part of the framework of national or other more localized library associations, whose relevance is much more concrete. Still, justifying even them to new professionals might be quite a task if they do not see themselves as actors across their own working place in the library or wherever it is they work.
This justification of IFLA is – i feel – one of the key components of what New Professionals Special Interest Group (NPSIG) is all about; a sort of an entrance or a lobby to the wider IFLA -organization.
At IFLA 2010 i was happy to see the presence of NPSIG very well and The Global Librarian at Borås was a fine satellite-conference. Thanks to NPSIG and attending the conference in Göteborg i feel welcome to the IFLA community (to some remote bordierlands at least) and NPSIG also gave me a very, very important aspect for Göteborg conference; i’m no by no means a new professional anymore, but being able to attend the conference with some focus (any focus will do, basically) will help make it a meaningful experience.
Having these “new professionals -glasses” on and trying to look at things from that perspective, i talked with quite a few LIS-students, many of whom were conveniently indicated by the blue shirt IFLA-volunteers wore 🙂 To all IFLA was almost unknown. Surely it’s more important that fresh folks get involved with their local library associations. I was happy to notice however, that many new professionals were interested in the IFLA Special Interest Group, and some places have had their local new professional -movements on the rise.
At the conference in Gothenburg many presenters and speakers communicated very clearly that fresh blood is both needed and wanted, both within IFLA itself and the libraryworld in general. This is of course an universal truism, but for some reason at this age librarians and library institutions emphasize it constantly. By looking at library history and reading documents of past discussion, we see that this same issue has been going on for a long time. However, the mechanisms of actually getting new people in the profession seem to be failing. Well at least that’s what people kept telling me throughout the week.