15 September 2009

Digital Library Futures Conference – and the future of digital libraries within IFLA

Summary and follow up 

On Tuesday 25 August, IFLA’s Professional Committee, together with the Italian Government organized a one day conference on Digital Library Futures, user perspectives and institutional strategies. This conference was sponsored by the Italian Athena project and was held at the University of Milan.

The main aim of the conference was to strongly embed the topic of “Digital Libraries” in the various IFLA working groups. To achieve this, each IFLA group was invited to send two representatives to the conference.  Since Digital Libraries is also a topic that is high on the agenda in the convergence area (the area where libraries, museums and archives work more closely together on topics of mutual interest), representatives of the international organisations of cultural heritage institutions were invited as well. Obviously there was also a huge interest in the topic among the IFLA congress participants. Therefore, at the Plenary Session on Wednesday 26 August, which was open to all, the IFLA Professional Committee addressed the same theme by presenting a summary of the previous day. 

At the end of the day,  the IFLA Professional Committee formulated a vision statement that will be leading for the implementation of the Digital Libraries theme within the IFLA organisation in the coming few years.

This vision statement is formulated as follows:

To employ the fullest potential of digital technology in partnership with users by enabling seamless and open access to all types of information without limits to format or geography, and to enhance the ability of libraries, archives and museums to collaborate among themselves and with others to offer the broadest and most complete service possible.

This statement includes the main conclusions: a) technology is not enough b) we need cooperation with users c) we need international cooperation with cultural institutions and partnership with others (publishers, et al.).

Next steps:

On the IFLA website, the summaries, biographies and PowerPoint presentations of the speakers have been made available (see the links on the left hand side of this page). In the near future the IFLA website will have a special page on the topic of digital libraries, to connect all ongoing and new activities in this broad area within IFLA. A full text publication in online and/or in paper form is currently under consideration.  

As of now, the IFLA Professional Committee will continue to develop the theme of digital libraries – in all different aspects - within IFLA and within all the international IFLA partnerships.

Digital Libraries, Digital preservation, Digitisation, Preservation, Users

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