IFLA Milan – cultural heritage and diversity

Posted September 4th 2009 @ 2:19 am by Fiona Bradley

The 75th Annual World Library and Information Congress wrapped up last Thursday in Milan, Italy and I was thrilled to be able to attend for the second time. This year, with all the first timer anxieties out of the way the conference for me personally was an exciting and successful one. This year as well as last, I participated as a member of IFLA’s staff so my attendance involves updating various IFLA units on activities, making (often swift) progress on projects, and meeting many, many people I’ve exchanged emails with over the preceding months. We talk a lot in our profession about moving communication online, but I still find the opportunity to talk to people in person incredibly valuable, especially when I work with people across the globe and the Congress is the only way to talk to many of them in the one place!

A highlight for me this year was attending all of the meetings of IFLA’s Regional Sections in Africa, Asia & Oceania, and Latin America and the Caribbean. There is a lot going on – workshops, projects, scholarships and many other important initiatives. Almost all of IFLA’s meetings are open and they are a great place to find out what is happening, and to find out about ways to participate in IFLA. ALIA members can nominate through ALIA for positions on sections of which ALIA is a member, but there are other ways to get involved – presenting a paper or poster, working with a Special Interest Group, being a volunteer (many volunteers this year were from outside Italy, some even attended for the second time from Canada after volunteering in Qu├ębec).

In addition to meetings and presentations, I managed to get to a couple of sessions this year including the showcase hosted by the Web 2.0 and Libraries special interest group, this topic continues to be hugely popular with librarians and will be in need of a bigger room next year. Other highlights included a panel from CLM/FAIFE discussing the impact of the Google Books Settlement, and a diverse panel the following day discussing copyright including librarians, lawyers and industry representatives. A fascinating question and answer session followed, covering topics from EU law to implications for privacy if the library becomes an ISP. The President’s session on libraries and the financial crisis was close to the end of the Congress, and gave some insights into how the financial crisis has affected libraries in different countries from not at all to severely, and representatives from ALA and CILIP talked about the impact it has had on them as well as the opportunities it presents to advocate for libraries and to refocus priorities in associations.

For me, it was a great conference, a lot of hard work but enjoyable, and we managed to see some of the beautiful sights of Milan including La Scala, the Galleria, and Lake Como (we didn’t quite manage to spot George Clooney’s house).

Fellow Libraries Interact contributor snail attended this year, stay tuned for his report from a delegate perspective.

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