IFLA 2010: Friday

Today’s Plenary Session /keynote speech was held by Hans Rosling, on economic equality and health equality. It was definitely a lot of food for thought – watch it in its entirety here. The gist of it was that, in the last 60 years, the world has become a lot more equal in terms of public health – but less so in economic terms. In addition, westerners still have an image of the world as it was in the 1950s – we tend to think of Africa as the continent with low public health AND economic shortcomings, which simply isn’t true any more. The inequalities are still there, but they have shifted geographically. Definitely an eye-opener and a warning to keep updated on what’s going on out there in the world!

I caught part of the session on academic libraries – the first speaker had nothing substantial to say, the second – from the UK Research Reserve – was of some relevance to me, the rest wasn’t, so I drifted over to the exhibition hall, where the ALA booth caught my eye with posters from their READ campaign, which is part of “@your library – the campaign for the world’s libraries”. I stayed and chatted to them for a while about library campaigns and advocacy – is it just my impression or are the US a bit more forward in this area than other places? I would dearly love to see posters like this at my local library. Heck, I would buy one of them (preferably the Nate Fillion one) to hang in my room because it’s just so cool. In between translations, I trundled the floor a bit more, walked by the poster area, said hello to a couple of people I knew, and then went to a reception on the “Adopt-A-Student” programme. The idea behind that is that someone – a private person or a company – can sponsor a student to be an IFLA member by paying the student’s membership fee for a year and mentoring them. The programme has only been around for a couple of months and I think it’s a really good idea to get new professionals into IFLA. I am applying, and I’m not so much about not having to pay fees – € 60 a year isn’t that much – but about the mentoring and networking.

I also dropped by the mobile libraries outside the venue. There were three different mobile libraries parked outside, and I chatted to the librarians at each. One, who does mobile library services for preschools, told me that the kids absolutely love the vehicle because they feel that it’s built for them and that they get really excited when he comes around. I think that must be really satisfying – how often do people get excited by your library? The locals in my pub (most of them graduates from the uni to which my library belongs) tell me the library I work in is an amazing place, but I rarely hear it from the current students/staff. Maybe there is a lesson here…

The evening saw the delegates going wild at Dance Night (yes, there were ABBA songs, and there even was Roxette…) And yes, I was up for the keynote speech at 8.30 the next day. I do feel quite proud of myself because I managed all the keynote speeches – except for Henning Mankell, but that was because I was in the office; I would have been early enough to see him.

The day on the whole was a bit of a mixed bag – it felt good to get outside a bit but still do something conference/librarianship-related. There was also some translation work, but it came in fits and starts and it was good not to have to worry too much about it. And I would never have expected a Dance Night attended purely by librarians to be as great as this one was. Proves once more that the stereotype is not true, I suppose!

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