IFLA Day 2: Thursday 12 August

Management and Library Associations

My first session on Thursday was within the Management and Library Associations strand where I saw Sue Hutley’s engaging presentation on Creating a national voice for (Australian) libraries. Sue, who is the Executive Director of the Australian Library and Information Association (ALIA), discussed a lobbying initiative undertaken by ALIA over the period 2009-2012. She stressed the importance of making the right political connections and speaking to government with a united voice, when there are over 50 library bodies in Australia. The advocacy strategy involves direct reporting to Ministers, as well as engaging with social media tools. In addition, there is also a grassroots campaign Every Member an Advocate which I thought was a good way of cementing the ethos of advocacy within the profession. ALIA is also involved in arranging user-focused events for libraries, including National Simultaneous Storytime and Library Lovers Day. The presentation ended with a snapshot of the National Year of Reading love2read , which will take place in 2012. All of the librarians in the room joined together to make a video doing actions to sign out the title love2read, which will no doubt surface on the ALIA webpages at some point in the future!

Metropolitan with Public Libraries

After a first session packed with ideas, I headed over to the Metropolitan Libraries with Public Libraries strand, where I arrived just in time for some more inspiration from down under, this time from Marian Morgan-Bindon of Gold Coast City libraries. Learning library: connected community and innovation presented an exhaustive range of reader development initiatives undertaken by Gold Coast City libraries. I particularly liked the sound of the Readers’ Rendezvous and the Older Adults Only Club, and they also offered a Literary Feast and Literati Author Encounters.

New library in Gold Coast City Council, Australia. By Jeannie Fletcher under CC License.

Next up was Martin Gomez of Los Angeles Public Libraries who delivered a very upbeat presentation about recent restructuring within his organisation. In Learning 2 teach he discussed the importance of fostering creativity and innovation in order to make libraries thrive. He presented statistics highlighting low literacy and educational attainment within sections of the LA population as pointing to a clear role for libraries – as essential educational institutions that are embedded within their communities.

The next talk was poles apart from what had gone before, dealing with the low level of library provision, and the general disrepair of library buildings, in Ukraine. Oases of innovation: uncovering innovation in even the most unlikely places looked at three examples of libraries’ efforts to respond to users. It was really encouraging to hear details of the Bibliomist project, which is funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, and aims to provide internet access in libraries across the country.

A dance troupe performs on the outside of the library building. Photo by Tom Magliery used under CC License.

The final paper in the Metropolitan with Public Libraries strand was The power of place: community engagement and collaboration at Vancouver Public Library. I was really inspired by the creative ways in which the library service had managed to become a central focus for wider cultural events, in one case they even had a troupe of dancers perform on the outside of the building!  Another example that particularly struck me was that the service held an outreach event in an alley behind a library in an area with a bad reputation. The overall focus was libraries’ place in communities and Canadian libraries have produced a Community-led Libraries Toolkit as a result of a four year project, Working Together. Both of these are well worth a look and, if you fancy continuing the good work in Vancouver, there’s a vacancy coming up for head of libraries!

A full podcast of this strand is available at http://skolebibliotek.ning.com/group/ifla2010session68.

Audiovisual and Multimedia

Next, it was on to the Audiovisual and Multimedia strand, where the specific focus was open access and digital resources – the challenge of putting audiovisual and multimedia materials on the internet. The first paper outlined a study by the IFLA Audiovisual and Multimedia Section (AVMS) into the legal deposit arrangements for audiovisual material in different countries. There were 35 meaningful (or complete) responses to the survey, which uncovered some core trends as well as many differences in approach. I thought it was particularly interesting that, in over 90% of responses, no one organisation had responsibility for the legal deposit of AV materials. It was also interesting to note that some countries vary considerably in terms of the severity of penalties for failure to supply items for legal deposit – from fines to legal charges being raised. Unsurprisingly, those countries with the most severe penalties also had the highest rate of legal deposit compliance!

The next talk was in Spanish (La producción multimedia en bibliotecas públicas colombianas – El uso de Creative Commons en las bibliotecas públicas para enriquecer el contenido multimedia libre or The production of multimedia content in Columbian public libraries – The use of Creative Commons by public libraries to enrich free multimedia content). Having just passed Higher Spanish, I decided to give it a go without the translation headset! Thankfully the speaker was very clear and used descriptive slides so I was able to follow the description of Web2.0 type services used by public libraries in Columbia and the overview of how Creative Commons fits into this picture. This is something that I’ve been involved with through setting up SLIC and CILIPS social networking sites, where we’ve favoured the use of CC in order to encourage sharing and re-use.

The final presentation that I attended, Genero: A way out of the copyright dilemma dealt with the issue of managing copyright and intellectual property in an electronic environment. One of the speakers made the claim that “…copyright is against human nature…” (because we naturally want to share) and almost impossible to manage on the internet. Instead, they support an alternative structure (or ecosystem) based on a re-evaluation of the production and dissemination of information. As part of this, conventional enforcement (of copyright law) would be replaced by a ”trust-based system” called Informed Individual . Overall though, I’m not entirely sure how, or if, this could work in practice but some of the issues raised, particularly concerning the role of the library in Free Culture initiatives, provided interesting food for thought.

This concluded my day at the conference, then it was on to the OCLC reception at Gothenburg Museum of Art, which provided a great opportunity to meet colleagues from all over the world (and a few from closer to home!), as well as a chance to see some of the treasures of the museum without vying for a position in crowds of tourists. In particular, it was great to meet up with the ALIA representatives to hear more about their work in Australia, and also to chat with former IFLA President Claudia Lux, who was brimming with enthusiasm about a new IFLA online learning initiative (using the Moddle platform) to support the Building Strong Library Associations programme.

The museum hosted the OCLC reception. Photo by Peter (DoitsuJinSan) using CC License.

After a day packed with library chat (and a few glasses of wine!), I headed back to my hotel through the throngs of subdued music fans standing in the pouring rain on Götaplatsen.

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!

Emerging trends in technology: IFLA 2009, satellite meeting

In the lead up to the International Federation of Library Associations (IFLA) World Library and Information Conference (WLIC), which opens in Milan on Sun 23 Aug, a number of pre-conference satellite meetings have been held across Italy, with a few others taking place in other European destinations.

I attended the IFLA Information Technology Section’s event, titled Emerging trends in technology: libraries between Web2.0, semantic web and search technology, which was held in Florence 19-20 Aug. The topic of this meeting fits in well with my work at SLIC, and I was especially interested to find out about developments and initiatives related to the adoption of new technologies in libraries in different parts of the world.

Due to problems with my flight, I missed the first part of the programme but was glad that many of the issues that had been covered were consolidated through the talk show (panel discussion) that took place on day two. The slides from the whole meeting will also be made available so I look forward to browsing the talks that I missed.

On day two, the presentations covered: the European Library’s work on developing a schema for the integration of web applications and services infrastructure; the ongoing development of OCLC’s WorldCat in line with emerging technologies and a discussion of ontologies and folksonomies.

There was also a particularly interesting presentation by Anne Christensen of Hamburg State University Library on next generation catalogues and users’ expectations. Anne discussed her experience of implementing the beluga project in Hamburg and provided some fascinating insights from user feedback.

The day ended with my own presentation on Web2.0 in Scottish libraries, which focused on CILIPS and SLIC’s engagement with Web2.0, including the forthcoming Web2.0 guidelines. Following my talk, I discovered that the IFLA Information Technology section had been considering developing international Web2.0 guidelines and I was invited to contribute to this process. I was pleased to learn that Scotland is leading the way in this type of work and look forward to being involved in the international collaboration.