IFLA comes to Zagreb

IFLA Meeting:  Librarians as (pro)motors of change

July 26, 2019
Clare Brown

We’ve recently enjoyed library and information conferences, such as CILIP, BIALL and AALL, and yet, there are more to come! Team Vable is looking forward to the London-based Internet Librarian and Legal Libraries conferences, as well as IFLA (International Federation of Library Association) in Zagreb on 20-21 August 2019. This last one is of interest to me not just because of its focus on continuous professional development (CPD), but its continental European aspect.

As a student of history, and regular visitor to Bosnia and Herzegovina, I am acutely aware of the region’s geopolitics. The unique cultural mix can be seen in the local architecture, the food, the languages - and the libraries. Having spent time in the national libraries of Bosnia, Croatia, and Slovenia, I’m aware that of their vital role within the historical, cultural, political and social identity of their countries.

Library and information professionals need CPD

Importantly, these national repositories aren’t just archives of the past; but agents of future transformation. We know that digital technologies are part of everyday life - entertainment, socialising, learning, communicating - resulting in a vast quantity of data. Librarians and information professionals are responsible for being (pro)motors of digital change in their communities and initiating digital transformation in smart societies. 

IFLA’s Continuing Professional Development and Workplace Learning Section embraces all aspects of professional development and learning in the workplace. I have written in the past about my own CPD experiences within a non-traditional library environment where I stated that “old fashioned library skills” count more than ever. We live in times when people are depending on a group of self-motivated, critical thinkers to direct and organise the digital world.

Do #infopros need to learn how to code?

An Inter-National Library Experience

Librarians can only influence digital change if we stay informed, critically engaged, and focussed on our users’ needs. One of the keynote speakers is Bosnian librarian/author/academic Mario Hibert and I am curious to hear what he has to say regarding smart societies. Although his talk is academic, his studies and experiences are valid and worthy of broader dissemination.

From a Croatian academic and schools library perspective, this conference will showcase the breadth of digital library experience.  These valuable digitisation and research projects include “Embracing the digital era: the case of Zagreb City Libraries” and “Boosting the research mindset of school librarians: a case study from Croatia”.

It’s not just the Balkans that are represented at this conference. I look forward to hearing about other national digitisation and learning experiences. From Finland, we will hear about the multichannel library customer experience and digital support for citizens. Turkish libraries will be talking about creating smart cities. Views from Iran, Singapore, Uganda, and Australia will also be presented.

How are libraries dealing with their photo archives?

Are multi-track meetings the best approach?

The meeting is split into two tracks with concurrent sessions. The first is “public libraries” and “academic libraries”. Then later there are tracks for “CPD in the digital era” and “School librarianship, children and young adult services”. Finally there are “Mentoring and CPD Research” and “LIS Research”. These divisions make me slightly cautious because it seems they are interdisciplinary sessions of interest to all.

For instance the sessions on “How to Speak of Art – Research of the Method of Active Learning About Art, podcast / digital educational platform” and “Exhibitions as an empowering act in the digital transition – libraries and librarians role as knowledge producers and curators” would be of relevance to both academic and public librarians. 

Likewise there are learning opportunities and commonalities between “Librarians promoting and driving change across the academic campus: digital transformation at the University of Queensland” and “SWOT analysis of Centre for permanent professional development at Ljubljana City Library, Slovenia”. However like the sessions mentioned above, they are in different tracks. 

I hope that other people will be making notes and sharing CPD outcomes during networking. 

CPD is the feel good factor! 

I am currently in a role which requires me to work with all types of organisations, so perhaps I’m more alert to artificial divisions in the information world. Like the geopolitics in the Balkans - and elsewhere - we have to be mindful about what unites us, rather than what divides us. Happily the meeting recognises that we all have to immerse ourselves in the process of digital transformation, and include others in the journey.

CPD is ‘a way of life’ for me so it is important that I don’t simply go through the motions of counting hours and ticking boxes. Learning and writing encourages me to reflect upon, and critically evaluate, the events I attend. And when I blog about them, my organisation also benefits from my knowledge sharing. 

There are so many library and information conferences from which to choose, so go beyond your comfort zone, and attend one not in your immediate field of expertise. You might learn something, and in return they will welcome your fresh ideas. Where are you going next?

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