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Reflections on IFLA 2016, by Travis Wagner, SLA Member, IFLA Presenter

Reflections on IFLA 2016, by Travis Wagner, SLA Member, IFLA Presenter

Arriving in Ohio through the John Glenn Columbus International Airport, I was immediately greeted by the welcoming faces of volunteers for the International Federation of Libraries Associations and Institutions annual conference. It was telling in this facilitation of welcoming comfort that I was at a slightly different conference. This realization was doubled when I walked toward the shuttle bus to the city of Columbus and was met with a cacophony of different languages: Arabic, Chinese, German and many heavily accented variations of English. Amazingly, the universal complexities of figuring out public transit maps were made easier as groups aided each other in guiding each person through the process of ordering a ticket through a stand-alone kiosk. While this all occurred before I even stepped foot into the Greater Columbus Convention Center, I tell it because I think it sets the stage for how truly exciting and innovative a space like IFLA can be. If it is not clear by now, IFLA serves the function of providing a meeting space for librarians globally. In the past the conference has been to cities like: Cape Town, South Africa; Milan, Italy; and Bangkok, Thailand. Obviously, travel to these places is not feasible for a lowly doctoral student, so when I heard it was in Columbus, Ohio I could not pass up on the chance.

As a moving image archivist who studies the relationship between gender and information organization, I was hesitant that my work would not fit within the sometimes narrow umbrella of librarianship. Yet, being bold I applied to present a paper on this topic as it relates to linked open data and was accepted! Still hesitant about my place a conference like this, my attendance immediately shifted such dread. While it falls under the name of librarianship, IFLA takes a broad understanding of what that constitutes. Though I only attended the conference proper for a single day, the types of persons present were as varied as the field of library and information science itself. I walked through poster presentations and listened to panels that included the work of health informatics specialists in Asian and Oceanic countries and information organizers working at agriculture libraries in Uganda. I even listened (admittedly a bit lost) to a presentation on engaging in the social web in the Chilean National Archive, which was delivered entirely in Spanish. IFLA’s annual conference served as a space for an international discussion to happen on some of the most pressing issues facing information management and distribution as things like the internet makes such connections appear seamless. While, it is never a safe practice to make universalizing statements about individual practices, it was still amazing to see how cultural institutions engage with aiding those in need similarly around the world. For example, the recent natural disasters hindering folks in Louisiana have made libraries emerge as a place of comfort and safety in a time of need. In a similar vein, while exploring the poster presentations at IFLA I was able to engage with two librarians at a Swedish institution, who were taking it upon themselves to use their library to aid and help the high surge of Syrian refugees to their country. This project included the librarians teaching classes about learning Swedish and practicing skills like sewing. Similarly, any initiative discussed or explored in posters and presentations were met with both global suggestions as well as unique examples to institutions within nations. Take for example my presentation. While I was talking about the dangers of moving too quickly to embrace linked open data without talking about gender inequity in the language, the questions I received explored the larger issues of moving image accessibility within institutions. An individual inquired as to how I thought visual accessibility mattered in terms of providing subtitles and descriptions for those with auditory and visual answers. Responding with uncertainty, the person provided me with suggestions both to their institution in Spain as well as larger projects undertaken by the United Nations regarding such accessibility. While, I have had such nuanced conversations with colleagues, hearing such topics breached within a conference space was new and wholly welcomed. IFLA’s annual conference is not simply a meeting of information professionals from around the world, it is a chance to take the field forward and move with much needed expediency.

I find it fitting that this IFLA conference occurred simultaneously with the Summer Olympics, because each time I watch the games, I am amazed at the camaraderie between countries and the chance to learn about places I would shamefully be unable to identify on a map. When walking the rooms of the convention center, I was able to encounter pop-up meetings between African information professionals and engage with Indonesian archivists. I am not sure where else I could expect such a thing to occur. IFLA 2017 is slated to be held in Wroclaw, Poland. Though I am not sure about my ability to attend at the moment, the thought of how to make it happen is certainly front and center in my mind.

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TIME SENSITIVE: National Digital Stewardship Residency Opportunity at Windsor Castle. “The individual selected for this position will begin the program on September 28, 2016”

Shared from FEDLINK. Just read it. Looks like a great opportunity. – Travis Ferrell, DMIL Student Liaison Coordinator
Dear Colleagues,

I am delighted to announce that the National Digital Stewardship Residency (NDSR) program has a very special opportunity. The Library of Congress, the Royal Library and Royal Archives, Windsor Castle, and their partners seek an individual resident to lead the Georgian Paper Programme project. Time will be split between Washington DC and the United Kingdom.

The Georgian Paper Programme is an international digital and research enterprise based upon substantial unpublished collections for the period 1714-1837 in the Royal Library and Royal Archives, Windsor Castle, in partnership with King’s College London, Library of Congress, Mount Vernon Library, William and Mary College and the Omohundro Institute.

If you aren’t familiar, the NDSR program is a field experience opportunity open to recent masters and doctoral graduates interested in digital stewardship, who have graduated from an accredited degree-granting program between summer 2013 and summer 2016. Doctoral candidates with graduation beyond summer 2016 are also encouraged to apply. The individual selected for this position will begin the program on September 28, 2016.

The Library and its partners will select one resident to begin a one-year full-time paid residency to develop, apply, and advance their digital stewardship knowledge and skills in this unique setting.  We ask you to please share the word about this exceptional opportunity. Also, if you personally know of someone who would be a good candidate please pass this message along.

A draft project description is attached that provides more details about what we are seeking. This is a highly visible position, working with staff of the Royal Trust, so it is essential that the resident demonstrate superlative social, written and oral communication, and interpersonal skills. The selected candidate will be presented at a formal dinner at the British Embassy in Washington DC, in mid to late October.

Thank you for your assistance in distributing the announcement. As noted at the end of the description, applications should be emailed as soon as possible directly to me.

Thank you,


George Coulbourne
Chief, Internship and Fellowship Programs
National and International Outreach
Library of Congress
101 Independence Avenue
Washington, DC 20540-3000
(o) 202-707-7856  (iP) 202-258-2969 |

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#SLA2016 posts from Rory Dougan

Rory Dougan volunteered to tweet from SLA 2016 this summer.

The following are his Tweets.

Thank you Rory!


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