IFLA Closes in Helsinki; Future Conferences in Singapore, Lyon
The International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions (IFLA) closed the World Library and Information Congress (WLIC) in Helsinki, Finland, August 16 by honoring several of its longtime members and activists, including Winston Tabb and Jay Jordan of the US. The closing session also revealed that Lyon, France, had won its bid to host the WLIC in 2014, which will follow next year’s conference scheduled for Singapore.
IFLA awarded its highest honor to Tabb, making him an Honorary Fellow for his more than 20 years of service, especially his work on the Committee on Copyright and other Legal Matters as an IFLA representative to the World Intellectual Property Organization. In that capacity, he has put libraries on the international stage as players in copyright discussions. In accepting the honor, Tabb called his work with IFLA “the most rewarding part of my professional life.”
2009–2011 IFLA President Ellen Tise of South Africa was also made an Honorary Fellow for her work in bringing together the many library associations in her country once separated by apartheid and persuading them to join IFLA. Tise quoted library leader Vartan Gregorian of the Carnegie Corporation of New York, saying, “Knowledge belongs to humanity and humanity has no boundaries.”
The coveted IFLA Medal went to OCLC President and CEO Jay Jordan for his leadership in the globalization of library services and his support of the Jay Jordan IFLA/OCLC Early Career Development Fellowship Program. Jordan called the award “the most significant honor in my very long professional career.” Echoing the conference theme, Jordan said librarians were “inspiring, surprising, and empowering every day.”
The IFLA Medal also went to Eeva Kristiina Murtomaa, director of the National Library of Finland, “for her work in improving bibliographic standards and the development of new cataloging and authority models.” Calling access to information a human right, she said, “The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams.” Helena Asamoah-Hassan of Ghana also won the Medal for her “significant contributions to IFLA and international librarianship through her work in building bridges across Africa and between African countries and the rest of the world.” “I am extremely humbled,” she said, urging her colleagues “to keep working and not worry about what is in it for you.”
Elaine Ng, chair of the national organizing committee for Singapore 2013, welcomed IFLA to her country. She thanked Finnish organizers for the “many meaningful discussions held here” in Helsinki and promised attendees “a similarly happy experience in Singapore” where IFLA can court “a new generation of digital natives.”
French delegates Hubert Julien-Laferriere and Pascal Sanz spoke for their cheering and flag-waving colleagues as they invited IFLA members to their country in two years, following the announcement that Lyon had won its bid to be the conference host city in 2014.
IFLA President-elect Sinikka Sipilä of Finland offered a peek into the future of IFLA as she presented a snapshot of the Summary of Digital Democracy at WLIC, saying the member survey indicated that “we need to change public opinions about the old traditional image of the library.” Mobile technology is providing access to information on a major scale, she said, and libraries have an opportunity to help people navigate the information deluge and locate trustworthy information. Support for civil liberties, international copyright policy favorable to libraries, and new publishing models that move away from the idea of ownership “will change the traditional library role in society.”
Maija Berndtson, chair of the Finnish National Committee that organized the conference, offered thanks to the more than 3,000 people who attended the conference from more than 120 countries and noted that “a good and memorable conference is created by all its participants.” The last time Finland hosted the conference was 1965, when some 400 people attended.
IFLA President Ingrid Parent adjourned the conference, and a day of meetings for the Governing Board and Professional Committee followed on August 17.
LEONARD KNIFFEL is the former editor and publisher of American Libraries.