IFLA in Kilter: International Conference Attracts over 4,700 to Glasgow, Scotland. (Special Report)

By Kniffel, Leonard | American Libraries, October 2002 | Go to article overview
Save to active project

IFLA in Kilter: International Conference Attracts over 4,700 to Glasgow, Scotland. (Special Report)

Kniffel, Leonard, American Libraries

The lit-up computer screen is now our symbol of knowledge and power, "omnipresent and omniscient as the eye of almighty God in days gone by," said Nobel Prize--winning Irish poet Seamus Heaney in his keynote address to some 4,765 library and information professionals from 122 countries at the annual conference of the International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions (IFLA) in Glasgow, Scotland, August 18-24.

Many of the 220 conference sessions grappled with the dilemmas and challenges created by computer omni-science, such as intellectual-property rights, digital preservation, and open access to the Internet.

Playing with the conference theme, "Libraries for Life," Heaney noted that "in the first place and in the last resort, libraries are for dear life also." Both writers and librarians are "involved in a holding action," he said, looking for ways to hang on to the world's creative output. Heaney observed that librarians are having to reinvent themselves in ways that can scarcely be imagined.

Presiding over the conference, IFLA President Christine Deschamps of France noted, "Few professions have managed to make the new technologies their own as we have, have managed to adapt so effectively, have made such good use of technical progress to create products, formats, and standards."

Assessing the Information Age

In a talk titled "Flaming Intimacy: Information and Identity," British Council board member Gerard Lemos observed that the Internet has fundamentally redrawn the way in which people can organize themselves, for both peaceful protest and terrorism. In depth and perception, however, technology has a long way to go in keeping up with human beings, he said. Ultimately, it "brings enormous potential to do good if people like you can help us to manage information in real time, across the whole system, and in a way that is practitioner-focused, not solely for the benefit of theoreticians."

Talking about "indigenous knowledge" and "Western ways of knowing," Martin Nakata of the University of South Australia's Aboriginal Research Institute, posited that the Internet has eliminated some barriers and has been embraced by many indigenous peoples. "The global push to describe and document indigenous knowledge is gaining momentum," he said, "without any commensurate interest in the epistemological study of indigenous knowledge systems."

"The library is the last bastion of possibility," author Anne Fine said, and "the sense of real welcome now extended to the child" is the most dramatic change in libraries she has seen in her lifetime. Children need librarians, especially in an information age, she said, because they do not have the skills "to distinguish between the sensible, the outlandish, and the simply mad."

Five-year IFLA Treasurer Derek Law of Scotland, outfitted in a kilt, said he had been boosting Glasgow for his entire term, and was pleased to report that "things are looking positive on most fronts," especially corporate support. He joked that he had to be "very parsimonious, indeed very Scottish," in his management of IFLA finances.

Displays of cultural prowess

In addition to the working sessions, IFLA 2002 offered attendees many tastes of the culture and customs of the host country, including a concert at the Royal Concert Hall in Glasgow, sponsored by publishers John Wiley and Sons, a reception at the Glasgow Science Center with full hands-on access to the facility, and a reception at the National Museums of Scotland in Edinburgh, followed by a full-scale military tattoo outside Edinburgh castle, where IFLA-goers joined throngs of Brits as kilted bagpipers and military units from around the world displayed their musical and marching skills.

Founded in Edinburgh in 1927, IFLA returned this year to the United Kingdom for the first time since 1987 to celebrate its 75th anniversary and produced a short history of the federation (written by Donald G.

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
Loading One moment ...
Project items
Cite this article

Cited article

Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited article

IFLA in Kilter: International Conference Attracts over 4,700 to Glasgow, Scotland. (Special Report)


Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

While we understand printed pages are helpful to our users, this limitation is necessary to help protect our publishers' copyrighted material and prevent its unlawful distribution. We are sorry for any inconvenience.
Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.

Are you sure you want to delete this highlight?