I’ve just returned from attending IFLA’s World Library and Information Conference, held in Singapore from 17 – 23 August 2013.
My primary purpose in attending the conference this year was to deliver a paper, entitled Information Literacy and Cultural Heritage for Lifelong Learning: applying the model to develop texttotechno intergenerational literacies to the Literacy and Reading and Information Literacy sections’ combined Open Session on Intergenerational Literacies – text to techno but, as always, there was so much of interest and delight at the conference. A bonus was that this year’s conference was held in Singapore, a place I find to be inspirational, a shining beacon of tolerance of cultural diversity, a thriving centre of creativity, knowledge, development, innovation, enlightenment values, and a role model of hope for the future. I have fond memories of our ILDS (Interlending and Document Supply) conference held at the National Library of Singapore in 2007, where our hosts were wonderful, and it was a pleasure to experience the warm, friendly and efficient hospitality of the Singaporeans again – they have a way of making everyone feel welcome and at home, that is truly unique.
One of two absolute highlights for me was the inclusion of Singaporean journalist and media and communications expert, Cherian George, as a Plenary Speaker on 20 August 2013. His presentation was controversial and challenging, highlighting exactly the issues that information and knowledge specialists need to be cognisant of, and engage with. I absolutely loved his presentation, entitled The unknowing of public knowledge (I highly recommend reading it from the link provided), but could see that some colleagues in the audience had some discomfort at this frank and forthright delineation of the powerful role the media has in shaping reality, and he did not mince his words. ALA termed it a “scathing indictment of mass media“. Having come across many of the issues he outlined while researching Chapter 2 – Cultural Heritage within digital information contexts – of my book, where I mined the scholarly output of the Media and Communications field, I was not surprised by what he had to say, but it was a new and welcome experience to hear these views at an IFLA conference.
At conferences, I tend to “channel surf”, following speakers and topics of interest, rather than attending entire sessions, and there were many speakers and topics of interest to me. The full conference programme is available here and IFLA now has an online, open access library where full text papers can be downloaded.
One session noteworthy for those following the field of cultural heritage, was the UNESCO briefing session, where more information was given on the Vancouver Declaration on Digitization and Preservation that resulted from the UNESCO conference held in 2012 entitled The Memory of the World in the Digital Age: Digitization and Preservation , which was most interesting. Also of great interest was the update by Ellen Tise on the work being done by UNESCO to rehabilitate and safeguard cultural heritage and the ancient manuscripts in Mali.
The Exhibition Hall was as always, a place of networking with colleagues, and there was a most delightful Singapore Pavilion, among other exhibits which showcased products and services in Asia as a whole, as well as global vendors. I made a special stop by the Emerald stand, as I serve on the Editorial Advisory Board of the Journal Interlending & Document Supply.
On the last day, I indulged in pleasant memories by attending the Open Session of the Document Delivery and Resource Sharing section, followed by the Standing Committee meeting where I was delighted to see some of the friends and colleagues from my time of being a member (2003 – 2011), and Chair of this Committee (2007 – 2009) – fond memories! The new Chair, taking over from my successor as Chair, Mary Hollerich (USA), is Pentti Vattulainen (Finland) and I was especially happy to lend him my support.
The open session was excellent, and I especially enjoyed Margarita Moreno’s presentation on how the National Library of Australia has combined digital preservation of out of copyright material with document supply, using state of the art scanning equipment to provide high quality images and documents (400 dpi and text scanned using OCR, done through the Relais system) that serve to fulfil users’ requests, as well as become part of the repository of digitized cultural heritage. This is a natural and efficient combination and streamlining of functions. I also really enjoyed the Rethinking Resource Sharing (RRS) group’s presentation where they outlined four initiatives of bold collaboration in the USA – Uborrow (using Relais), the IDS project (using ILLiad), the CoKaMO project of providing interstate document delivery (using Greyhound buses which are more cost effective than postal courier services), and the 2CUL project, a collaborative initiative between the Universities of Cornell and Columbia. It is so good to know that the RRS initiative is still going strong.
I took leave of Singapore filled with energy, enthusiasm, motivation, inspiration, and definitely professionally refreshed.
Thank you, Singapore, for being such outstanding hosts for 2013!