It’s ALIA AGM time! This is why you should care.

I just know that everyone is as excited about the ALIA annual general meeting as I am! It’s been marked in my calendar for months. Sure, that’s cos I  have to go and it involves interstate travel, but still. When I was in Singapore I went to the IFLA AGM by choice, and I enjoyed it, so there is fun to be had at these things.

This blog post is another in my unofficial series of “Why you should care about this governance stuff”. I’m going to try and convince you to a) come to the AGM, if you’re in Canberra, or b) send your votes in by proxy. The main reason you should do this is because those who vote at the AGM get to make decisions for all ALIA members, and there’s usually only a very small number of people, so it’s not very representative. You can do something quite simple to change that.

At last year’s AGM there were no special resolutions on which to vote, but this year there are – in fact there are 26 of them, and yes, each one gets voted on individually. There is method in this madness. There are 26 changes to ALIA’s constitution that the board has recommended. Rather than bundle them all together, risking an “all or nothing” vote, each one is being voted on separately. You can find details  of all of them here.

Now, I may have gotten your hopes up about these constitutional changes. The fact is that they’re not very radical. There were more radical changes that were discussed, at length, by the board, but none of them survived the board voting process. So what we’re left with are mostly uncontroversial wording changes.

Special resolution 10 allows us to reduce the number of members required for a quorum at the AGM from 21 to 11. It’s basically there to make it easier to get a quorum – there’s not that many members in Canberra that come along to the AGM, despite the free wine (did I mention free wine? There’s free wine! C’mon, what kind of librarian are you?) More interestingly, special resolution 11 will allow attendance and voting at the AGM by “electronic link”, that is, remote attendance and voting. This is a good thing, and will bring us into the modern age. Although you’ll have to provide your own wine if you attend remotely.

Special resolution 13 proposes moving the information about the national advisory congress (NAC) from the constitution into a by-law. This is not a sneaky way to stop holding the NAC. ALIA has every intention of continuing to hold the NACs, but having this in the constitution gives us very little flexibility – not the least because any change requires a vote of members, such as this one.

While to my mind the other resolutions are uncontroversial, I do encourage you to read through the list – you might object to something that I find mundane, and I don’t want you to think I’m discouraging you from paying attention. Quite the opposite.

Now, my point: you can vote on these resolutions even if you can’t attend the meeting. How? Through the magic of proxies! You can give your proxy (i.e. your vote) to another ALIA member by filling out a simple form. The person holding your proxy can hold multiple proxies – there is no limit.

When you give this other member your proxy you can give them a directed or undirected proxy. If you give them a directed proxy, you are saying “You can vote on my behalf, but you must vote this way” and you specify whether you support or oppose each resolution. If you give them an undirected proxy, you are saying “You can vote on my behalf, vote however you like”. If you know which way someone is going to vote, and you agree with them, it’s common to give them an undirected proxy. It’s possible for one person to hold both directed and undirected proxies – they may have 2 proxies to vote for a resolution and 3 voting against it. It can be complicated for them to keep track, but we’re all smart people.

So, again to my point: you can vote at the AGM without even going! All you need to do is find a member who is going, who is willing to take your proxy. You then put their details, and your voting instructions (if any), on the ALIA AGM pageYou must submit this form before 5pm Monday 19th May, or it will all be for naught.

I’m going. Even though I am a director, I can hold proxies. I’m willing to take directed or undirected proxies. If you would like to give me your proxy, stick my name and membership number (048016) on that form.

It’s very easy to be represented at the AGM – you just need to make a little bit of effort to do so.

ALIA election postscript

By time you’re reading this voting will have closed for the ALIA Board election – I hope you voted. The good news is that there’s double the chance that you did – or rather, the election received more than double the votes from last year (and my information is over a week old). While my ego is bruised that it wasn’t my name on the ballot that generated such a great response, I’m super pleased at the number of votes. A big thank you to all the people that contributed to getting the word out about the election, including the ALIA New Generation Advisory Committee, Hugh Rundle, and the candidates themselves.

I’ve been fairly silent throughout the election, for two reasons. The first is that I’ve just been crazy busy, with work and with the International Librarians Network (which is going great guns, by the way. You should join), and maintaining my own blog keeps falling down the priority list. The second reason was conservatism – I’m going to have to work with whoever gets elected, so I was wary of writing something that inadvertently looked like an endorsement of one candidate over another. Don’t get me wrong – I voted, and felt strongly about my vote. But I’m not going to tell you who I voted for.

What I wanted to say, and what I’ll say now, is that some of the questions asked of the candidates were really good. And not just for candidates. I kinda wanted to answer them myself. After all, while I’ve already been elected to the board, I’m still meant to be representing ALIA members, and they have a right to know, or at least ask, how I would respond. So I’m going to respond here.

(A quick note before I get into the meat of this. As an ALIA director, anyone can ask me questions at any time. I may not be able to answer them, but please don’t ever feel like you don’t have a right to ask them. I may not respond on my blog, depending on the nature of the question, but that shouldn’t stop you asking.)

What do you plan to do to make ALIA membership more attractive to library and information professionals?

I’ve been on the board for almost a year now, and I’ve got to say that our membership numbers are my biggest concern.

There’s an argument that we should expect our membership numbers to go down, because our industry is shrinking. I can see the logic in that, but I’m not entirely sold on it. And I don’t believe that our current membership represents the highest percentage that we can hope for.

This time last year I believed that an individual’s decision to join ALIA was based on two aspects: the big picture and the little picture. The big picture is the advocacy work that ALIA does, and the little picture is the direct experience of that individual, strongly determined by things like whether there are good quality, local events for them to attend. I thought it was probably an even split between big and little picture.

I’ve had to rethink that. Our member survey last year tells me that ALIA’s doing a great job with advocacy – yet our member numbers are going down. I still think that advocacy is important to members, but maybe it’s only 25% of their decision to join or remain members.

But I can’t get away from feeling that if you have frequent, good quality, affordable events near you (or online) that help you increase your professional knowledge and your professional network, that ALIA membership would look like a good deal. And, in most cases, I don’t think we’ve got that happening – my reading of the results of our member survey supports these conclusions. In the next year I’m going to push this idea, and see what can be done to make this more achievable. I’m being fairly selfish here – I’m an ALIA member, and I want these events!

What I’m not convinced of is that if we lower membership fees we’ll get more members. I don’t think lowering fees increases value, especially if, if we do lower fees, we’re going to have to stop doing some of the things we do. If we do chose to stop doing some of the things we do, I’d prefer to see that money put into supporting more events and making ALIA membership better value.

What will you do as a board member to ensure that progress is made on the establishment of professional standards that may lead to practitioner registration, including standards for proof of appropriate continuing professional development? Do you support a move to make the ALIA PD scheme compulsory for membership, as a step towards a practitioner register?

Yes. Yes I do.

I believe that all ALIA members should be able to demonstrate ongoing professional development, and that by rocking up to a job interview and saying “I’m a member of ALIA” what you’re telling the interviewer is that you have kept your knowledge up to date and that you’re aware of industry developments.

The problem is that the current PD scheme isn’t strong enough yet. As I said above, I want more and better PD opportunities, so that meeting the requirements  of the PD scheme becomes a no-brainer (granted, for ALIA board members it’s pretty easy, we get bonus points).

There are two ways we could approach this. We could make the PD scheme compulsory now, and hope that this forces PD opportunities to catch up, and quickly. Or we could focus on improving the suite of PD and the recording mechanism, so it’s more attractive to be a part – once we have a majority of ALIA members enroled in the scheme, it hopefully reaches a tipping point and we can look at making it compulsory.

I had this discussion on Twitter a while ago, and while I know some people prefer the first method, I prefer the second. One of the reasons I prefer the second is that every step gives a benefit – whereas the first method has some pain before we get the benefit (making PD compulsory now would result in at the very least a temporary reduction in membership numbers). I’m as impatient as the next person (more so – ask my friends), but I don’t think that not having compulsory PD now is a good reason not to be in the PD scheme. If you believe in compulsory PD, join the scheme and help us get there.

The answer to the first question of what I will do to ensure progress is made towards standards and registration? I’ll support PD events, the PD scheme, and ALIA’s current work in developing standards. A couple of months ago the board (including me!) voted to fund research into developing VET library standards. This is how these things happen – in small steps.

One more question before this blog post gets ridiculously long:

How can ALIA better engage with other library and information organisations such as ASLA, RIMPA and ASA?

In the last few years ALIA has been quite active in establishing memoranda of understanding with various associations with which we share an agenda. I think this is a good approach because it ensures that we work with these bodies – the MOUs usually involve clauses around acting together on issues of common interest.

You may not have known about these MOUs because they were not publicly available. At a recent board meeting I argued (and voted) for making these as available as possible, subject to confidentiality clauses. I felt that it was important for members to know what we’re doing on their behalf, and for non-members to see the benefits of being a member – in some cases these MOUs allow for access to training from other associations at their member rates (cool, huh?!). I by no means wish to suggest that I was the only one taking this stand, and you’ll be pleased to hear that the motion was passed by the board. The details aren’t on the ALIA website yet, but they will be.

That’s all the questions I’m going to address now, because it’s a rainy Sunday and there’s an armchair, book, and a pot of tea calling to me. (FYI I’m reading  this at the moment. It is shocking, heartbreaking, and stunningly well written.) You’ll notice that some of my responses are different to those of some of the candidates – this is a good thing. We can have different views on the board, and hopefully we’ll be able to debate topics and expand each others’ understanding, and reach better decisions as a result. My mind can be changed on any and every point above, if a good enough argument is presented.

I haven’t answered all the questions because I’m not sure I can, but as I said above, this isn’t a one-time opportunity. Is there a question you’d like me to answer? Just contact me on Twitter or through ALIA – my details are printed in the front of every issue of Incite.

And they’re up and running

I’m so pleased that, for the second year running, we have an actual election to determine who will be on the ALIA Board of Directors. I’m pleased because it was both a personal and a professional goal. I want to see elections happen because I think that a competitive process leads to better directors; as a current director of ALIA, competitive elections are one of  the performance measures of our strategic plan. So, win!

First, a big thank you to all the nominees. Regardless of who wins, these are all individuals who are willing to donate large chunks of their time to making our professional association better. There are lots of people out there who just talk about what ALIA should be doing – these are the people who are willing to try and do it and then be held accountable for it. Congratulations to Damian Lodge and John Shipp, our next two presidents – being an ALIA president is a big job, and we’re lucky to have such dedicated members.

As a current ALIA director, I have to be really careful about saying anything that could be interpreted as favouring one candidate over another – not because ALIA told me them’s the rules, but because I’ll need to work with whoever is elected. If I indicated that person x was my favourite, and they don’t get elected, that makes it harder for me to work with person y who did get elected. So, if you’re looking to me for guidance on who to vote for, please don’t.

However I will encourage you to contact the candidates directly. The ALIA member survey last  year told us that, of those who did not vote in the board election, most of them said they didn’t vote because they didn’t know anything about the candidates. Well, you do now. There’s information there and all of them can be contacted directly. I have my fingers crossed that certain people and groups might approach these candidates with questions (I’m looking at you Hugh, ALIA Sydney and NGG), but don’t just rely on them. Contact these people yourself! Give them a chance to impress you.

Finally, and this is just the first of many times you’ll hear this from me over the next few months: VOTE! (not yet – voting’s not open yet. But plan to vote, okay? Thanks.)

Board meeting eve

Tomorrow morning I’m flying to Canberra for the last ALIA board meeting of the year. I’m doing the FIFO thing, there and back in one day, and I’m totally going to pretend that I work for a mining company and get paid buckets of money cos that’s how FIFO people live, right?

It’s not likely to be a tokenistic meeting, this one. We’ve got some big items on a long agenda. Two things of particular note are the results of the member survey and the review of ALIA’s constitution. The former is something I find really interesting – I’ve worked for two survey companies in my career, and they taught me how to ask questions and how to interpret survey data. I’ve been pouring over the results, as I assume the other directors and I know the ALIA staff have been. It’s simple to ask a question like “What would we have to do to increase membership and increase satisfaction amongst members?” It’s not simple to find an answer. I’m aware of the weaknesses of surveys – in this case, this was a member survey, which means we might get a lot of information about member satisfaction and about reasons for membership, but we probably won’t get a lot of information about why people aren’t members. That doesn’t mean we can’t use the data to start that discussion.

The constitution review is, to be honest, starting to turn my brain to mush. I’ve poured over so many iterations of this document that I’m starting to lose sight of it. We’ve had some fantastic debates, we’re proposed radical changes and then argued ourselves out of them. By the time the membership gets to see this document they’ll probably wonder what I was carping on about for so long, but the version we put to members won’t show the full history of the discussions we’ve been having. Trust me when I say that it’s been an interesting experience! I really hope we can make the deadlines we have to make to get this to the membership for voting next year, as I would love to be part of the board that helped make this happen. It would make me proud, even if the changes do end up seeming small.

The other fun thing on the agenda for this meeting is ALIA’s budget for 2014, where we get to have our say in how we spend ALIA’s money. This is a good discussion to have after receiving the results of the member survey, as we now have a better idea of our members’ priorities for ALIA.

Remember that nominations are currently open for the next board elections. If you’d like to know anything more about what being on the board involves I’m very happy to chat about it – please do consider nominating.

 

Should you nominate for the ALIA Board? Yes you should!

Exciting news folks – nominations are now open for the ALIA Board of Directors! Yeah, I know, you’ve been waiting for this.

The fact is, this year notwithstanding, this is an event that has not traditionally attracted much excitement. Outside of ALIA, that’s cool, but inside the ALIA membership it should be a big deal. Ideally members would be eager to stand for these roles, and other members would place high standards on those that nominate, seeking information about their agenda and approach, in order to make an informed vote.

This isn’t the case, and it’s not going to become the case overnight. I know why most people ignore this – there’s a lack of understanding about what the board does, people are pressed for time just managing their own lives let alone someone else’s company, and even if you could find the time, why spend it on this? The responsibility for changing these attitudes rests with the board itself, and past directors, who are the people who can build understanding of what the board does and what the rewards are.

So I’m going to try and do my part. First up, I would encourage all members to consider running. While it’s not an easy job, it is something that is within the reach of most people. Diversity on the board is healthy, so please don’t rule out running just because you’re young/old/in a rural area/working in a small corner of library land/have strange hair/never done this before. Start with the assumption that you can do it.

Being on the Board means attending meetings – in person and by teleconference – but it also means lots of other stuff. In the six months I’ve been on the board these are the things I’ve been involved in:

  • Determining the strategic plan for 2014 (with the awareness that the current overall plan ends in 2015)
  • Revising the constitution, making recommendations for changes, to put to the membership for a vote
  • Revising the by laws, making recommendations for changes following the review of the constitution
  • Guiding ALIA’s approach to large advocacy campaigns, such as federal elections
  • Financial oversight, including reviewing monthly budget reports and the overall organisational budget
  • Reviewing the structure of advisory committees, developing a relationship with assigned committees
  • Working on ALIA’s projects, such as the future of the profession or ebooks and elending
  • Reading monthly membership reports, including recruitment strategies
  • Contributing to the ALIA member survey, including reviewing detailed results
  • Reviewing the performance of the executive director
  • Representing ALIA at events (such as other association conferences, the ALIA National Advisory Congress, and on external committees)
  • Responding to member inquiries and feedback
  • Providing advice to the executive director as required

Does any of that sound interesting to you? Do you think you could do that better than the current board? Time to put your money where your mouth is!

Why bother? Well, I find being on the board rewarding. I’m learning so much about all aspects of our profession, as well as lots about how an organisation runs. I’m a bit of a corporate governance wonk – I find the processes and procedures involved really interesting. I like feeling as though I can be a part of making ALIA stronger, either through providing direction or through my own actions (i.e. holding myself accountable to members, advocating for members’ interests). I’m working with a team of people that I have a lot of respect for, and am learning a lot from them. The things I’m learning and involved in go way beyond what I get to do in my paid job. Being on the board has expanded my experience and my perception of my work.

There are a few things that you’ll need to know before you nominate. First up, you’ve got to be an ALIA member, so if you’ve let your membership lapse you’ll need to get that renewed before you nominate. It’s also important that you have your employer’s support. Most of the teleconferences happen during work time, and there are occasional issues that arise that require a quick response. If you’re not allowed to use any work time for ALIA activities you’ll find it very hard. Some board members, myself included, have come to compromise agreements with their employers about the amount of work time used. Travel costs are covered for board activities, but you’re not paid for the work. It’s a volunteer position.

Before you nominate make sure you understand the legal obligations you’ll be under. I’d recommend reading ALIA’s constitution thoroughly, and the by-laws, and some general information about board governance. ALIA is a not for profit company limited by guarantee under the Corporations Act, and directors are subject to the various liabilities outlined in the act (although we do hold directors’ insurance). This is a good resource. I don’t mean to scare you, but corporate governance is not usually taught in library school, so you’ll need to educate yourself on this.

Finally, I’m very happy to answer any questions. Please consider nominating. This is a big election – five positions up for grabs – and the easiest way to ensure that the people that get those positions are the best people is to have some choice.

Your opinion sought: ALIA board terms

We discuss lots of interesting and exciting things at the ALIA board: the future of the profession, conferences, money. But sometimes we have to do some housekeeping, and that’s what this blog post is about.

The ALIA board is in the process of reviewing the ALIA constitution, looking for things that need to be updated or changed. One of the things that we’re discussing is the term of office for board members. The current constitution states that board members are elected for two year terms, with a maximum of two consecutive terms – a maximum of four years in one go.

There are two problems that the board is grappling with, in relation to its membership. These are that it’s (usually) difficult to attract people to stand for election, and that two years is actually a really short time to serve on the ALIA board. Let’s look at these individually.

2013 was the first year in several in which an election for the board was actually held – which means there were more candidates than there were vacant positions. In the interests of an involved and democratic organisation, I’d like to see elections held every year. I’d like to see lots of competition for this important role, and elections used to select the best candidates. There are risks when there are no elections: we all know people that have inflated views of their own talents, and if all they have to do to get on the board of ALIA is to nominate, well, that’s a little scary (please note this is not a comment on the quality of board members past or present!). It’s important for member engagement that they have a say in who represents them in running the organisation.

People will, in theory, stand for election if the role is attractive to them; they have to feel like it’s achievable, worthwhile, rewarding, and, this is important, they need their employer’s support. ALIA has various ways that they could influence each of these elements, and the term of office is one of them. A short term of office, in which one can’t achieve anything, would prevent the role from being seen as rewarding or worthwhile. A long term of office might mean that people see the role as unachievable, or it might impact the support they get from their employer. (It’s worth articulating here that being on the board requires time and flexibility from employers, and cannot in reality be conducted only in one’s personal time. Some employers might feel that this is an imposition on them. Quick shout out to my employer UNSW Library, who generously gives of my work time!) So you can see that we don’t want a term of office that is too short or too long. We need the goldilocks term.

Which brings me to the second problem. When I took my seat on the board I was coming from a long history of active ALIA involvement. I’d run a group, I’d convened a conference, I’d sat on an advisory committee, I’d even worked for ALIA. One could saythat I was at somewhat of an advantage; yet still the volume of information that I’ve had to take in about every single aspect of the organisation is massive, and I still feel very wet behind the ears. Imagine how much harder it is for someone coming in with less ALIA experience than I had. Feedback from other board members, past and present, is that it took them at least a year to get a proper understanding of the role.

If you spend your first year figuring out what you’re meant to be doing, you’ve only got one year left to actually do any of it. That’s not a lot of time when you’re operating on a strategic level in an organisation, when you’re working on projects that typically take three or more years to play out. It means that we don’t get the satisfaction of seeing the project finished; it also means we’re not held accountable if it goes awry.

Which brings me to the question we’re debating: is two years the right length? We’re basically having a debate comparing two, three and four years. Two years is short, but maybe too short. Four years is long; IMHO, too long, and I would not have volunteered for a four year term, and I wouldn’t do so now that I know how much work is involved! Three years might be a nice length, but it’s complicated to administer – and some people might see it as too long as well.

At the last board meeting we talked about this for some time, and came to the conclusion that we really should find out more about what members think on this – not the least because those in the room are not a representative selection of members, given that we have volunteered for the board. Hence this blog post. I’m seeking your opinion. Please tell me what you think about this. Do you think three or four year terms are too long? Would a longer term encourage you towards nominating for the board in the future, or put you off? You can use the comments section, or you can email me at alysondalby at gmail dot com, or even on Twitter at @alysondalby.

(In case you’re interested in how this actually works, this is not a formal consultation process, rather an informal information gathering. The board will use this to put together a proposed change to the constitution, which then gets voted on by the membership. But we can’t have a vote on three options – we can propose a change, on which members can vote yes or no. Hence we are trying to figure out what that change, if any, should be. If, by the way, you feel we should leave it at two years, please say so – don’t assume that a lack of feedback will encourage the status quo!)

My First IFLA WLIC

In August I went to my first IFLA World Library and Information Congress (WLIC), which was a pretty interesting experience. I’m still very much digesting all the information I took in while there, but I wanted to write a reflection before it travelled too far into the past. I tweeted like made during the event, and Storified the whole thing at http://storify.com/alysondalby/my-first-ifla-wlic.

A quick beginner’s guide to the IFLA WLIC might be in order (and thanks to @katecbyrne for her help with understanding this). IFLA is like the international version of ALIA – kind of. There are some important ways in which IFLA and ALIA differ, and I’ll get to that. Their WLIC is run in a different city every year. Most of the time it’s held in places that are prohibitively expensive and time consuming for Australians to get to; the fact that it was being held in Singapore this year was probably the thing that made me determined to go.

The WLIC is like a giant cake (stick with me, this’ll work out, I promise). There are two layers of cake: one layer is a normal conference with speakers and exhibitors and poster sessions. The other layer is an event that comprises all the IFLA committee meetings. The cream in between is, um, let’s say the networking that one does while travelling from one layer to the other. And then the icing is made up of the satellite events. The thing is that when you take a slice of the cake you get all of those things at once. They all happen at the same time. So it’s a bit confusing.

IFLA, like ALIA, has lots of members that comprise the various committees that represent regions, sectors, and special interests. There’s like a gazillion committees when you add them all up, and each one has one or two meetings at the WLIC. To fit all this into one week there’s usually about six things happening at the same time. Most of these meetings are open, and they welcome observers. So even a novice like me, who until half way through the conference wasn’t even a member of IFLA, can just walk in to these meetings and find out what that particular caucus/section/special interest group does.

To be honest I found that was where a surprisingly large chunk of the value of the WLIC was, partly because it’s different from what you get at other conferences (at least in Australia). One of the other differences between IFLA and ALIA is that IFLA is the Federation of Library Associations – as in, most of it’s members are organisations (although IFLA does have individual members as well). ALIA is a member of IFLA. One of the most interesting meetings I went to was the Management of Library Associations Section (MLAS), which is where all the people who are in charge of library associations around the world get together and talk about what they want IFLA to be doing on an international level. In the meeting was a mix of staff and directors of various associations; being on the board of ALIA made this particularly relevant for me (as well as being quite the networking opportunity!).

The other layer of the cake, the bit that tasted like a normal conference, was, like any other conference, variable. Some bits were great and some bits were a bit crap, but that’s to be expected. The program works on a very distributed model – each of the aforementioned committees gets time allocated in the program to fill with whatever and whoever they want, essentially. There are some plenary sessions as well. I won’t write about every session I went to, and my Twitter feed recorded my impressions of the event in some detail, but there were some stand outs worth mentioning:

  • The opening session was a bundle of fun, with lots of music and drumming, and a  huge Chinese dragon made of reused water bottles covered in neon lights, winding it’s way around the hall. It was lively and really gave a sense of occasion. However I was fairly conflicted listening to the speech by Singapore’s Ambassador-at-Large Professor Chan Heng Chee, where she romanticised the personal, print, wooden library, and described libraries as ‘sacred spaces’. I don’t feel that this kind of characterisation is helpful, as sacred things are very hard to change. A library shouldn’t be sacred. It should be used.
  • The FAIFE (Freedom of Access to Information and Freedom of Expression) conference session was probably the best chunk of sessions I attended. It included Barbara Jones from the American Library Association talking about the Snowden affair, and articulating why ALA needs to focus on the quality of the laws underpinning these and similar cases, rather than the individuals involved; Singaporean activist blogger bravely Alex Au talking about Singapore’s culture  of self-censorship; and Stuart Hamilton from IFLA talking about our personal responsibilities around campaigning for libraries as safe places. It was one of those sessions one comes away from feeling inspired.
  • The Copyright and Other Legal Matters committee had a session on international agreements, that included two excellent presentations. Harald Mueller took us through some recent court cases in intellectual property and their implications for libraries, which led to his fabulous conclusion that the best way to get some decent laws made in this area would be for librarians to start some court cases themselves. Then the wonderful Ellen Broad fed into my inner conspiracy theorist when she talked about the TPP and TTIP, two trade agreements currently being negotiated that are likely to heavily affect intellectual property and copyright laws that we rely on to do our jobs. Ellen has the power to make one really, really care about copyright law.

Cake is cake, and cake is good, but cake is great with icing. And so I can’t neglect to mention IFLAcamp2, which was the satellite unconference that I went to before the WLIC proper. Like all unconferences it was characterised by mildly controlled chaos, but in the good way. There were about 35 people there, and a very mixed bunch – new grads, big wigs, educators, vendors, students, what have you. The event was organised by the IFLA New Professionals Special Interest Group (the catchy NPSIG). We talked about all kinds of things, including international librarianship, professional development, leadership, library associations, informal learning networks, and the future of libraries. Some notes were taken and uploaded at http://npsig.wordpress.com/iflacamp2/schedule/. While this was all great, I think the most valuable part of IFLAcamp2 for me was a chance to meet and get to know some people before being thrown into the chaos of the full WLIC. It gave me connections to people that I then continued to bump into over the next week.

I would love to go to the IFLA WLIC again, but it would depend a lot on accessibility and relevance. It was interesting, but there’s no shortage of cool overseas conferences. The international nature of the WLIC is probably it’s selling point, and it was wonderful meeting people from really and truly all over the world. But given the time and cost involved in going when it’s on the other side of the world, it’s possibly of more value to people who are actually involved in the work of IFLA. If you are interested in becoming one of those people, which I am, then attending the WLIC is the best orientation session possible.

p.s. IFLA recently launched the IFLA Library, an online repository of their conference and other papers. You can find lots of the 2013 WLIC conference papers in there, and there’s lots of good reading to be had!

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