As a way of processing what felt like a whirlwind IFLA experience, or perhaps a marathon, I want to capture some of my thoughts and impressions here. My IFLA experience began with a trip to one of my favorite cities, Washington DC, for the Document Delivery & Resource Sharing Section‘s Satellite Meeting. I was there solely as an attendee, which is a rarity for me these days, but definitely a welcome change. The program was full of great programs, but two stood out for me because I found connections with my own work.
First was a presentation from Silvana Mangiaracina and Emanuela Secinaro on their research into whether Italian library users are using social media to obtain articles rather than the library and, more specifically, NILDE, the Italian interlibrary loan network. It was exciting to see similar research being done in another country, especially since the findings were the same. ILL is alive and well!
The second was a presentation from Megan Gaffney who reported on her initial efforts to investigate ILL between the US and Latin America. It was fascinating to hear how ILL services are perceived by Latin American countries, and one of the survey responses Megan mentioned gave me inspiration for a future project. More on that at a later date.
After a quick pit stop to repack, I drove to Columbus, Ohio, for the main event, the 2016 IFLA World Library & Information Congress. I had never been to a Congress before and am so grateful I had the opportunity thanks to a US National Committee Fellowship. It was especially humbling to learn that 3,300 people from around the world applied for the 180 fellowships awarded.
I tried to hit all the highlights of an IFLA Congress — fellow program, US Caucus, Newcomers Session, Opening Session, Exhibit Hall, and Cultural Evening. I also saw many interesting and thought-provoking presentations by librarians from nearly every continent. I learned more about copyright and attempts at reform in four different countries; interlibrary loan in the Republic of Korea and Italy; how six librarians in four different countries have handled weeding; the ISSN International Centre‘s efforts to address scholarly publishing ethics and the changing information environment; and the current status of the new ISO ILL standard (ISO 18626).
However, what struck me most about IFLA was the atmosphere, the eagerness and delight of everyone to connect and share with other librarians despite cultural differences and language barriers, and most of all, how the issues we face are often the same whether we are from Indiana or Uganda.