IFLA 1994: Libraries and Social Development

By McGarry, Dorothy | Special Libraries, Winter 1995 | Go to article overview

IFLA 1994: Libraries and Social Development


McGarry, Dorothy, Special Libraries


Nearly 1,500 people from approximately 80 countries attended the 60th IFLA general conference August 21-27, 1994. Held in Havana, Cuba, it was IFLA's first conference in Latin America. More than 50 workshops and 185 contributed paper sessions provided opportunities for librarians from around the world to meet and exchange information.

About 430 Cuban librarians and more than 100 U.S. librarians actively participated in the conference. Many of the U.S. delegates and a number of delegates from other countries traveled to Havana through Miami, FL via charter flights which take less than an hour between those two cities. Others chose to travel to Cuba through Canada or Mexico. Many brought gifts of books and/or medicines to Cuba. One day the charter flight from Miami had a bomb threat. Most of the delegates who were on the airplane that day chose to take the flight to Havana the next day; others chose not to take the trip. While the conference was going on, U.S. President Clinton spoke about reducing the number of charter flights to Cuba and other restrictions, which added to the concerns of some of the delegates about the effects of such actions on Cuba and about their own return transportation to Miami.

Overall, the conference facilities were very good, and simultaneous translation was provided for many of the sessions. In addition, a number of Cuban English language students served as translators in some of the small meeting sessions and provided excellent assistance and information to delegates throughout the conference. Prior to the conference, the Cuban organizers set up a listserv to provide information on the program and about Havana's hotels, museums, embassies, etc. At the conference the organizers provided electronic mail access to all delegates who wanted it.

Marta Terry, director of the Cuban National Library and IFLA second vice-president, Robert Wedgeworth, IFLA President, and Cuban Minister of Culture Armando Hart Davalos spoke at the opening session. Cuban poet Cintio Vitier delivered the keynote address. Vitier has published books of poetry and several anthologies, and has produced extensive work as a critic and essayist.

Progress reports on the five IFLA Core Programmes were provided at an Open Forum. The five programmes are Advancement of Librarianship; Preservation and Conservation; Universal Availability of Publications (UAP); Universal Bibliographic Control and International MARC (UBCIM); and Universal Dataflow and Telecommunications. A summary of two of these programmes follows:

* The UAP Programme has begun work on the implementation of a voucher scheme to simplify payment for international lending and has produced guidelines on the use of telefacsimile in interlending. A survey of the use of ISBNs was recently completed, and indicated that ISBNs are used as an additional tool rather than a vital one in interlending. The UAP Office has also looked at copyright in transmitted electronic documents.

* The UBCIM Programme has undertaken several projects in cooperation with the Division of Bibliographic Control: revision of Names of Persons; preparation for publication of Guidelines for Subject Authority and Reference Entries; and involvement with an International Conference on National Bibliographic Services, to be held in 1997 in Copenhagen, Denmark. The programme officer also works with the Permanent UNIMARC Committee and has participated in workshops and seminars on UBC and UNIMARC.

Receptions are an enjoyable part of each IFLA conference, and the 1994 conference receptions in Havana were excellent. The first reception, hosted by the Government of Cuba, was a cultural gala at the National Theater of Cuba, featuring a performance by the Danza Contemporanea de Cuba. The reception held by ASCUBI (the Cuban Association of Librarians) at the Jose Marti National Library included performances, dance music, and a fair/bazaar which offered arts and crafts and other souvenirs for sale. …

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