Congress theme: “Libraries Now! - Inspiring, Surprising, Empowering”

Newcomers Session – What is IFLA all about?

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Newcomers' session

The Newcomers Session gave me an inspiring perspective on both participants and organizers in IFLA.  The Session consisted of two separate panels discussing what motivates people in IFLA and what people have gained from IFLA conferences.

Chair Buhle Mbambo-Thata, IFLA Governing Board member, gave a welcoming speech. She looked back to her first IFLA Conference in Istanbul 1995—remembering it as an exciting conference with lots of learning and a good opportunity to make friends.  Her encouraging message to newcomers was not to worry about any confusing first impressions one might receive, but rather to get directly involved in networking with colleagues from around the world.

What motivates you to come to IFLA?

The first panel consisted of FAIFE Committee Member Alejandra Martinez Del Prado, Library and Information Science student Shaked Spier and WLIC 2012 volunteer Minna Marjamaa.  Alejandra told us how she found her way from her first IFLA Conference to her present position as a FAIFE Committee Member.  Shaked and Minna gave their impression of IFLA as an engine of change on a local and national level.

Alex ByrneWhat have you gained professionally and personally from IFLA?

The second panel discussion consisted of IFLA Officers and a past IFLA President.  Ian Yap, IFLA Information Coordinator for the Libraries for Children and Young Adults Section, compared IFLA to a family in a sense that the librarian’s relationship to IFLA is reciprocal: “There is lot to get from IFLA, but also a lot to share with others”. Later in the session, Alex Byrne, IFLA President 2005-2007, told us that his first IFLA meeting was confusing, but from the very beginning it was always interesting to be involved.  Alex reminded us that IFLA is not only about presentations and lectures, but also business meetings and work groups doing tough work.

In between the panels, Secretary General Jennefer Nicholson gave her perspective on IFLA, saying: “Once you are involved, it is very difficult to leave”. Listening to the words of the experienced IFLA Officers, it is very easy to believe.