IFLA Day 1: Wednesday 11 August

On arriving back at the office yesterday after getting off a flight from Sweden the day before, where I had attended the IFLA WLIC in Gothenburg, my plan was to get straight to work on writing up my experiences and ideas from the conference while it was all still fresh in my mind. However, I arrived at SLIC and CILIP in Scotland (CILIPS) HQ here in Hamilton to the news of Bob McKee’s death. As CILIP Chief Executive, Bob has been a regular visitor to our office and a supportive influence in the work of CILIPS. I last saw Bob a few days ago reveling in the IFLA bustle at the Svenska Mässan, which provided the venue for this year’s event, and fully expected him to see out the conference, and his remaining time at CILIP,  with the same verve and enthusiasm.

The tragic news overshadowed all thoughts of the conference yesterday but then I read Bob’s own blog posts from IFLA and it became clear that the show must go on; he had been actively engaging with professional issues right to the end, and we have to do our part too!

CILIPS in Scotland was represented by Rhona Arthur, Assistant Director, and I attended on behalf of the Scottish Library and Information Council (SLIC). We arrived in Sweden on Wednesday afternoon to the very familiar scene of heavy rain and grey skies. We were just in time to catch the end of the afternoon sessions and I opted for the Genealogy and Local History strand, where I caught a presentation on Implementing historical thinking and developing local genealogical services by an academic librarian from Turkey. Although there are clearly many differences in how and where information is stored and organised in different countries, this was a really interesting example of collaborative, user-focused efforts at a national level.

IFLA flags line the street outside the conference centre.

These themes seem to have appeared in other presentations in this section and I was particularly disappointed to miss the Swedish paper on collaboration between museums, libraries and archives, as this is very much on the SLIC agenda through participation in ALMAUK . Being based in Hamilton, I was also disappointed to have missed Bruce Royan’s talk on The Virtual Hamilton Palace but have since read his paper which offered both an interesting insight into local history and detailed description of how this information was brought to life.

When the sessions ended, it was then time for the launch of the exhibition, before heading to the IFLA Night Spot at Gothenburg City Library. In the pre-conference publicity, I had got the impression that the library was being kept open late specifically for the use of librarians but was delighted to see that it was open for business and bustling with users. This worked particularly well since there was a free music festival going on in Gothenburg and the main stage was just across the square from the library, attracting a huge crowd to the area. Despite hosting a particularly loud death metal band, the proximity to the stage did little to ruin the atmoshere in the garden area that was part of the librarians’ Night Spot but it did give us a noisey end to a busy day!

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