The past couple of weeks has been a whirlwind of all things IFLA – the wind up of the 2019-21 term; the World Library and Information Congress; and the start of the 2021-23 term. Normally IFLA in August would signal an overseas trip to some wonderful location (think Milan, Puerto Rico, Helsinki, Lyon, Singapore, Cape Town, Columbus, Wroclaw, Singapore, Athens), often with a satellite thrown in for good measure (Klaipeda, Birmingham, Bergen, Rome). It may sound like a junket (and some of you have been guilty of using that word), but believe me an IFLA WLIC is 7 days and nights of hard work. Its also incredibly rewarding.
The 2020 WLIC which was scheduled for Dublin was cancelled due to the Pandemic, but the 2021 WLIC which was to be in Rotterdam was moved online and what a success it was. Spread over three days the program explored the themes of Libraries Innovate| Libraries Include| Libraries Sustain| Libraries Inspire| Libraries Enable. Each day was targeted at a specific world time zone (Europe & Africa| The Americas |Asia/Oceania) and all sessions were recorded to allow delegates to catch up at a later date. I was delighted to be a member of the program curation committee and to see the amazing work that went on behind the scenes.
Despite the WLIC being online there was still the IFLA buzz in the chat area as friends and colleagues from around the world caught up with one another and social media was in overdrive, especially with ‘remember this’ photos. There were a few minor hiccups but for a first time it was pretty special. The automatic captioning raised a few eyebrows and quite a few laughs – bet you never knew that ‘reading will give you pneumonia’ or that IFLA translates to ‘evil library’!
Normally the WLIC includes the change over meetings of the many committees and the Governing Board but these have been done on either side with the official change over yesterday following the IFLA General Assembly. For me this marked the transition from being Chair of Division 1 to Chair of the newly formed Division E which has responsibility for the School Libraries, Indigenous Matters, Information Literacy, Libraries for Children and Young Adults, Literacy and Reading, Reference and Information Services and Library History Sections. I am really excited by this step which is part of IFLA’s new governance structure.
The last few days have also been an opportunity to thank our outgoing President, Christine McKenzie and outgoing Professional Committee Chair, Vicki McDonald. I have had the great pleasure to work with both of them through ALIA and IFLA over many years. Christine was a fabulous President over this time of uncertainty and while being a ‘Zoom President’ isn’t what any of us would want she did it with grace and certainty. The ‘Aussie Mafia’ (aka the ALIA International Relations Committee) surprised both Christine and Vicki with flowers and champagne during our meeting on Tuesday.
So now we look to the future and a time when we can once again meet face to face but until then the spirit of IFLA thrives. We are IFLA.