IFLA #WLIC2017 Reflections 2 Days In

I am here in Wroclaw, Poland attending the IFLA World Library and Information Congress with 3,000 other passionate Librarians from around the world. I am staying in what is known as the old city though it has mostly been rebuilt after 70% of the City was destroyed in WWII. This is a beautiful shot shared on Twitter of the Town Square.

The WLIC opening shared this City’s (Poland’s 4th largest City which has just hosted the World Games) history with us through an amazing interpretive dance and song piece. We were welcomed by the Minister of Culture and the First Deputy Prime Minister, Piotr Tadeusz Gliński and Rafał Dutkiewicz, the Mayor of Wroclaw and are meeting in the Centennial Hall, where Pope John Paul and the Dalai Lama have also met the people of Wroclaw.

Centennial Hall and the Army of Volunteers at WLIC 2017

It has been a hectic 2 days after over 30 hours of travel to get here as we acclimatize ourselves (there are 60 Australian Librarians taking part in WLIC 2017 ) to the City and while it is summer here in Poland, it is still a cool few days for this Queenslander, used to much warmer weather.

The key takeaways for me from the opening sessions yesterday and today’s focus from the IFLA President’s highlights, the Global Vision Workshop and the Storytelling for Reference Librarians are:

  1. Inclusion: As IFLA works to create a Global Vision for Libraries there is a real sense of inclusion of all areas of the world in the discussion. And it is a discussion, librarians problem solving and working together to articulate what it is to be a library of the future, delivering community outcomes for today. The findings from the Workshops held in all parts of the globe were shared and all views were considered.

2. Participation: IFLA Quote The challenges facing the library field from ever-increasing globalisation can only be met and overcome by an inclusive, global response from a united library field. And this challenge requires all librarians from around the world to ACT and Participate. The call to vote has gone out across the world for all librarians to have your say to influence the Vision document. So Vote!

3. Stronger Together: A very strong message coming through the discussions for both the Library Industry response to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals and the Global Vision for libraries is that the Library Industry must come together — A United Voice- all voices together advocating as one. Breaking down the walls between the types of libraries is essential to move forward and evidence our global impact. The launch of the IFLA Library Map of the World happened and this requires countries to add their stories and library data. Powerful tool to evidence the impact of libraries across the world — but this tool is only effective if Libraries participate and submit their data and stories!

4. Effective Storytelling: The whole two days has been about telling effective library stories and stories of place and the session Storytelling for Sustainability and Solidarity from the IFLA Reference and Information Services Committee bookended a storytelling kind of day. Erik Boekesteijn opened the session with powerful examples of storytelling as a development, consultation and sharing tool. Libraries are about stories he stressed: Keeping stories, Sharing Stories and Making Stories. His LinkedIn Group This Week In Libraries is available for all to share library stories to learn from each other and to tell a combined powerful library story. Participate and join the Group! Other presentations were about engaging with users and allowing them to tell their stories to the library — give them a voice. From the data collected Librarians can then assess knowledge gaps, expose what they do not know about the library, and adjust services to meet needs.

So the new skills needed by librarians are the ability to tell stories, curate curiosity, and to use many different tools to deepen the relationship with our users and to give them a voice. Working with our communities we broaden the diversity of our users, develop a deeper relationship and build evidence to base decisions on. Looking forward to another big day.

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