3 June 2020
#IFLAFromHome in Latvia: An Innovative National Conference in Line with the IFLA Strategy
Last February we spotted the great action being taken by the Library Association of Latvia (LAL) in order to make the IFLA Strategy a reality at the national level. LAL planned to make the Strategy central to this year’s Festival of Latvian Libraries 2020, organised in close collaboration with the National Library of Latvia.
Of course, COVID-19 forced plans to change, but it did not stop them!
The IFLA Strategy continued to inspire them and even during such extraordinary circumstances, LAL found new and innovative ways to strengthen and develop the skills of Latvian librarians.
Take a look at this inspiring story which showcases a great example of engagement by a library association with the IFLA Strategy.
The Online Congress of the Library Association of Latvia: “Inspire, Engage, Enable, Connect!”
The IFLA Strategy proved to be a great inspiration and a unique engagement opportunity for the Association, as they transferred their conference into a virtual one, providing a strong example of how to engage with the IFLA Strategic Directions and Key Initiatives 1.3, 2.4, 3.3 & 4.3
The 13th Congress of Latvian Librarians itself took place on 23 April 2020 with the theme “Inspire, Engage, Enable, Connect!” as the highlight of the country’s Library Week.
For the first time in the history of Association, it was organized online using Zoom.
The event gave a unique and unprecedented experience to Latvian librarians, strengthened LAL’s ability to keep up with the times and use innovative technologies, as well as providing an opportunity to LAL members to test their ICT skills and engage with IFLA activities.
With the incorporation of the IFLA Strategy as the conference’s theme and the many online presentations closely connected to the IFLA Strategy, plus our IFLA President Christine Mackenzie’s keynote to open the Congress, LAL managed to turn a global agenda into local action.
The video of President Mackenzie’s speech is now available on LAL’s YouTube channel.
IFLA President Christine Mackenzie said:
The IFLA Strategy is an offer not just for IFLA HQ or for the GB or for the sections, but for the whole library field. My presidential theme is ‘Let’s Work Together’, and I’m convinced that in this time it’s more important than ever that we do that. So, I’d ask you to work together to make libraries as good as they can be.”
How they did it:
To help Latvian librarians understand the theme of the Library Week, engage with the IFLA Strategy, feel comfortable with their virtual conference participation and provide support for remote library activities to the public, LAL created a number of useful resources.
- Made the IFLA Strategy available in the Latvian language and shared it with the library
- Translated the IFLA Membership leaflet into Latvian and shared it with the library community in order to promote IFLA and the importance of the international dimension of the library field
- Asked their keynote speaker, the IFLA President, to record her speech and created Latvian subtitles before sharing it with the library community
- Created and shared instructions for using Zoom
- Created and shared instructions for the online elections and voting in the Congress
- Organised an introductory webinar of the online congress
Moderators were available during all the time of the online congress giving participants the opportunity to call in case of confusion or problems connecting to or working in the online platform.
The theme “Inspire, Engage, Enable, Connect” in the emergency situation caused by the Covid-19 pandemic has proven to be particularly strong, as people need inspiration, involvement, opportunities and unity in these circumstances, and libraries are the ones who can help people withstand this hard time.
Although Latvian libraries were limited in their ability to organise Library Week events on site, they took advantage of contemporary technologies to convincingly demonstrate the role and importance of libraries in the society.
In order to provide support for remote library activities to the public, LAL offered free online Zoom space to their members, which strongly connects to the IFLA Strategy Key Initiative 2.4.
This gave libraries the possibility to organise their own online events, virtual meetings with authors, online conversations and other online creative events—linking them to the IFLA Strategy.
Together with the free use of a platform, LAL also offered moderation and consulting support for webinars, an offer taken up twice in the Library Week, with seven more planned subsequently. This provided a great support for Association members, and it made it possible only to make financial savings but also to acquire new skills, support and motivation to use innovative ICT tools.
More than 250 Library Week activities happened online, from all types of libraries. Some of those campaigns gained great visibility in national magazines, like the campaign “Revive the book – interpret the cover”.
See LAL's detailed report with the examples of what the online Library Week inspired by the IFLA Strategy meant on a local level in Latvia, to give inspiration for the rest of the global library community as well.
In every situation, you can find both something bad and something good. Thanks to the Library Association of Latvia’s online Congress and online Library Week in these special circumstances, so many interesting and creative events related to the IFLA Strategy took place, demonstrating the courage and skills of librarians and strengthening the contemporary role of libraries as important and modern cultural institutions which are able to inspire, engage, enable and connect Latvian society, and the global library community.
Feedback on LAL’s online congress and library week has been uniformly positive. LAL President and Chief librarian of the Library Development Center at the National Library of Latvia, Māra Jēkabsone said:
If there was no forbiddance to organize on-site events because of Covid-19, we wouldn’t have dared to organize an online Congress. The IFLA Strategy has given us great inspiration to move this forward and transform our major event into a virtual one. Most importantly, it also set the ground rules for the importance of providing tools and infrastructure that support the work of libraries (Key Initiative 2.2), supporting virtual networking and connections (Key Initiative 2.3), empowering the field at the national and regional levels (Key Initiative 3.3)”.
Make your library association next
Let’s consider this as a precious time to enable organisations to engage with the IFLA Strategy, self-reflect, plan their own strategy and its implementation.
IFLA Secretary General Gerald Leitner said:
Technology gives us a great opportunity to get not only connected, but also inspired, engaged and enabled, just like our IFLA Strategy states. This is as important now as ever before. I invite other Library Associations around the world to think outside of the box, get inspired, engaged, enabled and connected globally using the IFLA Strategy. I do hope to see more actions like those in the future in other countries globally.”
How is your library or library association engaging with the IFLA Strategy? Let us know! Contact Despina Gerasimidou, IFLA’s Strategic Development Officer at firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll figure this out together.
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