13 November 2012

IFLA Helsinki Pre-Conference Report

By Chris Rhodes

Helsinki 8-10 August 2012

Library and Research Services for Parliaments pre-conference review

The Library and Research Services for Parliaments Section of IFLA pre-conference of 2012 was hosted between the 8-10 August in the Finnish Parliament and Little Parliament prior to the main IFLA Congress.

Training Day – 08/08/2012

The training day was co-hosted by the IFLA Section and the Global Centre for ICT in Parliament. It was held in the Grand Committee Room of the Little Parliament. The day was on the topic of Strategic Management of ICT in Parliamentary Libraries: Skills Development Activity for Parliamentary Libraries of the Arab Region.

The training day was attended by delegates from a wide range of Parliamentary libraries, including ten Arab Parliamentary libraries.

The first session was delivered by staff from the House of Commons in the UK on the subject of Providing effective information services to the Parliament and intended to outline the strategy and practical steps needed to establish a modern Parliamentary Library’s ICT service.

The next session was delivered by staff from the Finnish Parliament and described how Finland’s innovative Parliamentary website provides library services to the public, with a particular focus on how user-centred design can improve citizens’ engagement with Parliamentary libraries.

After lunch, a session from Alenka Kavcic-Colic of the National and University Library of Slovenia and Chair of the IFLA IT Section described how to create, manage and preserve digital collections for Parliaments.

The final session of the day was delivered by Ida Kelemen of the Hungarian Parliamentary Library. This session focused on the development of the collaborative website of Visegrad Parliamentary Libraries (Austria, Czech Republic, Poland, Hungary and Slovakia).

Each of the day’s sessions was accompanied by a lively discussion, with interesting questions from delegates and useful answers from speakers.

Following the completion of the formal training, delegates and speakers were given a tour of the Finnish Parliament building, followed by reception and meal in the Little Parliament hosted by the Vice Secretary General of the Finnish Parliament.

Day 2 – 09/08/2012

The second day of the pre-conference saw the delegates and speakers who were present at the training day joined by other colleagues representing over 70 Parliamentary Libraries. In total, around 180 people attended the second and third day of the pre-conference.

This day of the pre-conference involved a number of engaging presentations on the library and Parliamentary landscape in Finland.

The opening address was from Seppo Tiitinen, Secretary General of the Finnish Parliament. Mr Titteinen described the politics and constitution in Finland and gave some historic context to the current system.

This address was followed by a description of the services of the Finnish Parliamentary Library by its Director, Sari Pajula, and a discussion of the introduction of research services to the Finnish Parliamentary Library over the last few years from the Head of Research Services, Antti Rautave.

Hannu Sulin of the Finnish Ministry of Culture then gave a presentation on the Finnish library network. He described why Finland should be known as not only ‘the land of a thousand lakes’, but also ‘the land of a thousand libraries’ due to the large number of libraries available to the Finnish people (including one boat library) and the breadth and depth of services that they provide.

After lunch, Erika Bergstrom of the Finnish Parliamentary Library described the pivotal role of the Parliamentary Library in providing access to knowledge. After her presentation, Timo Turja, also of the Finish Parliamentary Library, gave a thought provoking presentation on the limitations of the influence of Parliamentary Librarians in modern democracy.

Then Paivi Lipponen, a Member of the Finnish Parliament and Chair of the Committee of Future presented. Her presentation described the ground breaking and internationally unique work of her committee in horizon scanning and formulating ‘future-proofed’ policies for the Finnish Parliament.

Following the second day of the Pre-Conference, delegates were hosted by Seppo Tiitinen in the Hall of State of the Parliament of Finland. Delegates were entertained by Finnish musicians and treated to range of fine Finnish food in spectacular surroundings.

Day 3 – 10/08/2012

The third day of the Pre-conference involved a mixture of presentations and small-group discussions.

The first session was about innovation in research services that support MPs. Presentations included one from Soledad Ferreiro of the Chilean Parliamentary Library on the development of research services to enhance democracy. The second presentation was from staff of the Norwegian Parliamentary library on the development of iPad and Tablet tools for Parliamentarians. The third presentation was on induction methods for new members of Parliament from Moira Fraser, formerly Librarian at the Parliamentary Library of New Zealand.

The second session was on library and information services for citizens. The first presentation presented the results of a survey conducted by the Greek Parliamentary Library on the value of offering the library and archive services of Parliaments to citizens. This was followed by a presentation from Nia Sjoberg and Cecilia Stadius of the Swedish Parliamentary Library on innovative ways to reach the public. Finally, David Prior and Laura Gardner of the Parliamentary Archives of the UK presented on an innovative project to connect the archives of Parliament with local archives in the UK.

After lunch, the Chair of the Section, John Pullinger offered an overview of regional networks relevant to the IFLA section. This was followed by a brief presentation by a member of each regional Parliamentary Library network. Moria Fraser then presented on how research services and Parliamentary Libraries can be strengthened by the establishment of regional networks. There was then an opportunity for the regional networks to meet privately and discuss matters relevant to their groups.

The Pre-conference covered a large range of issues and addressed a number of important questions, which will help Parliamentary Libraries provide more effective services, both to Parliamentarian and citizens. Thanks you to the staff Finnish Parliament for hosting such an interesting and enjoyable conference. Thank you also to the speakers and delegates, all of whom all contributed to make such a rewarding pre-conference.

Library and Research Services for Parliaments

List all IFLA news