Magazine article Information Today

Libraries as Place and Space: An IFLA Satellite Conference

Magazine article Information Today

Libraries as Place and Space: An IFLA Satellite Conference

Article excerpt

Within the field of library and information science, the issue of libraries as place and space has become an important topic in both practice and research. Recognizing this, five IFLA (International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions) sections--Public Libraries, Library Buildings and Equipment, Library Theory and Research, Management and Marketing, and Academic and Research Libraries--collaborated on a successful Satellite Meeting that attracted nearly 200 delegates Aug. 19-21 in Turin, Italy.

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These preconferences are an IFLA tradition. Essentially, these are miniconferences that last from 2 to 3 days preceding the full IFLA World Library and Information Congress (WLIC) that are usually held nearby (or in) the WLIC host city. This year, WLIC was held in Milan, Italy, and the 17 Satellite Meetings were held in venues not only in Italy but in other European cities as well. Although delegates find them useful, librarians this year have questioned whether extending the time away from work to attend both a Satellite Meeting and WLIC was justified. It adds up to nearly 2 weeks of travel. In the case of the Libraries as Place and Space preconference, many of the delegates were from Italy and did not plan to attend WLIC. For them, this was a completely separate conference, fortuitously landing on their doorsteps, courtesy of IFLA.

Architects Planning Libraries

After an outline of the key themes from Ragnar Audunson from Oslo University College, the first presentation appropriately centered on the library of the host city of Turin. Paolo Messina, director of the Turin City Library System, explained that the region was moving from "a Fiat monoculture," dominated by the automobile company, to one centered on technology, filmmaking, and tourism. Particularly after the 2006 Winter Olympics, Turin is considered to be a destination city, although it has Olympic debts as well. A Metropolitan Area Strategic Plan puts the library at the center of the area's knowledge economy and provides for a new central library building that will be designed by architect Mario Bellini. Envisioned as a cultural center, the new 215,000-square-foot building will be constructed in an underused industrial area. Plans call for patron involvement in collection development and a reading promotion project.

In Birmingham, U.K., as in Turin, a new library building is envisioned as the hub of the local knowledge economy. Although neither Brian Gambles from Birmingham City Council, nor architect Francesco Veenstra with Meccanoo was able to present in person, their slides depicted the proposed building with an interesting meshing of the repertory theater with the library. Architect Marco Muscogiuri from Alterstudio in Milan was also looking at public libraries, although he didn't focus on any one particular building. His keywords for the 21st-century library were accessibility, visibility, articulation, evolution, well-being, sustainability, and multiplicity.

New Approaches to Library Space

In Australia, reports from Sue Boaden of Australia Street Co. and Carina Clement of Albury Library Museum indicate that convergence and integration are garnering attention. They used case studies to demonstrate how the notion of convergence is controversial. It engenders passion not only in the library sector but also among other information-centric organizations, such as museums, galleries, and archives. Critics perceive integration and the convergence of services, programs, and staff resources as being disrespectful toward the search for meaning and knowledge and the traditional value placed on the organization of information and services based on specialist skills and disciplines. According to Boaden and Clement, "The successful converged facility is a community hub."

The notion of unconferences is becoming widely accepted worldwide. But what about the notion of an "unlibrary"? …

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