Friday, August 19, 2016

A report from the 82nd IFLA World Library and Information Congress

I had the opportunity to attend my first IFLA World Library and Information Congress (WLIC) this year in Columbus, Ohio. For those who don't know or can't Google, IFLA is the International Federation of Library Associations and "is the leading international body representing the interests of library and information services and their users. It is the global voice of the library and information profession." The IFLA WLIC brings together thousands of librarians from around the globe around common issues. And, like any good library meeting, has vendor exhibits and receptions.

Highlighted here are some of the sessions I attended:

Session 056 Caucus - USA
A meeting for all USA attendees

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(pictures from the USA Caucus)

The USA Caucus had nearly 1,200 attendees. The US had the single largest delegation (as the host country).

Session 069 Newcomers Session
Find out how to get the most from your IFLA WLIC 2016 experience, be it through professional interaction, updating your knowledge, socialising or social media. This session offers a brief introduction to aspects of the Congress and IFLA as an organisation. The Newcomers’ Session is a great opportunity to start building and expanding your professional network.

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(from left: Donna Scheeder, IFLA President; Gerald Leitner, IFLA Secretary General, and Natalia Molebatsi, IFLA WLIC 2016 Social Media Coordinator)

The Newcomers Session provided a great opportunity to learn about the complexities of IFLA and how to get the most out of the Congress and IFLA. IFLA President Scheeder and Secretary General Leitner welcomed us and encouraged full participation, reminding us that everyone is a newcomer at some point. A highlight for me was Natalia Molebatsi (South Africa) who gave a great presentation on how to use social media to enhance your Congress experience.

Session 070 Opening Session (SI)
Congress delegates will come together on Sunday, 14 August 2016 for the official opening of the 2016 WLIC. During the opening ceremony, delegates will be introduced to the history and culture of Columbus and the United States through music, dance and pageantry. The theme of the opening ceremony, "Invention and Innovation" will highlight science, industry and information.

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(from left, some visitors from the Columbus Zoo; celebrating the Wright Brothers; Native American drummers) 

The opening session is an opportunity for IFLA leaders to make speeches (check):

  • Address to Congress delegates, Donna Scheeder (IFLA President) 
  • Welcome Video       
  • Welcome to Columbus, Carol Pitts Diedrichs and Patrick Losinski (Co-Chair, U.S. National Committee, United States)

and for the host country to celebrate what makes them special. This 82nd Congress had a razzle-dazzle opening that celebrated the USA and Ohio:

  • Segment One: Ohio Famous Firsts       
  • Segment Two: America’s Famous Firsts and Through the Eyes of the Inventor       
  • Segment Three: Road Trip across America and its Iconic Libraries       
  • Welcome to the United States       
  • Grand Finale

The show was hosted by sports announcer Olivier Sedra revealed some unknown to me facts:

  • Ohio is home to Victoria's Secret, Abercrombie and Fitch, and Bath and Bodyworks (who knew);
  • Ohio is the number 3 fashion design city in the US (after New York and Los Angeles) -- the opening was done like a fashion show;
  • Lifesavers (the candy) were invented in Ohio (we were all given rolls of Lifesavers)
Session 088 Exhibition Opening Party

The first main day of the Congress also had an opening part of the Exhibit Hall where many of our familiar vendors were on display.

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(from left, mystery "game meat spread"; book cleaning machine; scary book scanner)

Many of the exhibitors were familiar from ALA; had a chance to chat with some that we've done business with in the past and some I may work with in the future.

Session 092 IFLA President’s Session - Answering the Call to Action: How Might We Respond to the Challenges Presented in the IFLA Trend Report
The world continues to experience a rapid pace of change since the launch of the IFLA Trend Report in 2013. The IFLA President’s Session will focus on how libraries have been responding to the continual changes in the information environment. The IFLA Trend report identified 5 high-level trends which have been discussed across the international library community over the past three years. Many in our community have answered the call to action.  The session will see the publication of a new update report summarising these discussions and the community’s response to the Trend Report.

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(from left, Mark Surman, Maura Marx, Fred Von Lohmann)

The speakers at the panel were:

  • Mark Surman, Executive Director, Mozilla Foundation, United States
  • Fred Von Lohmann, Copyright Legal Director, Google, United States
  • Jack Cushman, Library Innovation Lab Fellow, Berkman Klein Center for Internet and Society, Harvard University, United States
  • Maura Marx, Deputy Director, Library Services, Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS), United States
The closing presentation by Maura Marx was a tour-de-force call to action for librarians to "stop the same old librarian blah-blah-blah" and step up to take ownership of key issues around equity, privacy, and social justice. (Biodiversity Heritage Library factoid: Fred Von Lohmann was the BHL's first IP advisor when the Electronic Frontier Foundation did pro bono work for BHL and EOL).

Session 104 The Internet’s New Gatekeepers? Net Neutrality and Libraries - Copyright and Other Legal Matters (CLM) with Committee on Freedom of Access to Information and Freedom of Expression (FAIFE)
Net Neutrality is the term used to describe the principle by which all traffic – films, music, documents – is treated equally over an internet connection. It is threatened by actors who seek to give preference to one type of traffic over another, effectively restricting choice and determining which parts of the internet people will find easiest to use. Inevitably, the most powerful will be better placed to optimise the performance of their content.

For libraries, whose mission is to give access to knowledge equitably, the idea that access should be controlled or made harder for reasons which have nothing to do with fundamental rights is a worrying one. This session will explain more about what net neutrality is, and what it means for librarians and library workers, as summed up in IFLA’s Statement on the topic.
  1. Introduction
    Eve Woodberry, Chair of CLM, Australia
  2. Net Neutrality and Zero Rating: the societal context
    Corynne McSherry, Electronic Frontier Foundation, United States
  3. Net Neutrality and Zero Rating: legal aspects
    Stephen Wyber, Policy and Research Officer, IFLA, Netherlands
  4. Equal Before the Internet: IFLA Statement Offers Firm Support for Net Neutrality
    Amélie Vallotton, (FAIFE), Switzerland
  5. Implications of the IFLA Statement on Net Neutrality and Zero-Rating for Education and Practice
    Tomas A. Lipinski, CLM Member, School of Information Studies, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, United States
A panel that was the geeky flipside of the President's Session. The highlight was the fabulous presentation by Corynne McSherry (EFF) on the intricacies of net neutrality.

Session 112 Library engagement and Wikipedia
In this session we will explore the ongoing fruitful cooperation between libraries and Wikipedia. We will highlight some best practices and case studies around different library types engaging with Wikipedia. We hope to encourage a wider uptake of Wikipedia across the library world by showing the added value gained from previous cooperation between libraries and Wikipedia. We invite you all to join us for a stimulating and inspiring session.

  1. Opening and introduction to the subject
    Alex Stinson, Wikimedia Foundation/Wikipedia Library, United States; Jake Orlowitz, Wikimedia Foundation/Wikipedia Library, United States
  2. Wikipedia and public libraries
    Alex Stinson, Wikimedia Foundation/Wikipedia Library, United States
  3. Discussion Paper (Public Draft)
  4. Wikipedia and research libraries
    Vicki McDonald, State Library of New South Wales, Australia
  5. Open discussion moderated by the Wikipedia Library team

OCLC IFLA Reception

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(some pictures from OCLC HQ)

OCLC hosted a great reception at the recently re-modeled HQ in nearby Dublin, Ohio. A great opportunity to mix and mingle with colleagues from around the world and talk with colleagues from OCLC on their home turf. (I should point out a rightfully controversial method of serving of champagne).

Session 126 IFLA Highlights Session
Catch up with the past and get involved in the future! 
Join us for this snapshot of IFLA. Catch up with some of the most important work and successes for IFLA in the last year. Then learn more about the year ahead and key initiatives to benefit libraries and associations.

A great session (especially for a newcomer) that outlined some key recent achievements of IFLA and some previews of plans for the coming year.

Session 157 Cultural Evening
Location: COSI - The Center of Science and Industry

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(scenes from the IFLA cultural evening)

The IFLA Cultural Evening was held at the Columbus Center of Science and Industry (a science museum). The COSI was divided into regions of the USA: West, East, Midwest, Mountain, and South. Each area had foods and entertainment from the region (I think the Midwest bratwurst were the best; the sushi disappeared really quickly). Music and librarian dancing ensued! Lots of dancing at the "silent disco" (look here if you're unclear what that is) and the Mountain area where some line dancing was attempted.

Session 163 Plenary Session
David S. Ferriero, Archivist of the United States, will be speaking at the Plenary Session on Wednesday, 17 August.

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David Ferriero, Archivist of the United States, gave a great talk that outlined some of the issues facing the U.S. National Archives and Records Administration and plans for the coming year.

I had to head out after this plenary session. There were still two full days of IFLA WLIC 2016 left (plus a Friday full of tours of local and nearby libraries).

But, I had to say "Goodbye, Columbus" ... and I'll leave you with a few other shots of the city.

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(from left): Ohio Statehouse; Scioto River; Looking over the Scioto River

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