Congress theme: “Future Libraries: Infinite Possibilities”

Spinning plates for IFLA

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An interview with incoming IFLA Professional Committee Chair, Lynne Rudasill

Lynne RudasillAfter participating in the Social Science Libraries Section’s standing committee, Lynne Rudasill has been the Chair of IFLA’s Division 1 (Division of Library Types) since 2011. This year, she has been elected as the new Chair of IFLA’s Professional Committee (PC).

The PC coordinates the work of the professional units (sections, strategic activities, special interest groups, etc.) and is responsible for IFLA’s professional activities, policies, and programmes. It is composed of a Chair, the Chair of each of the five IFLA Divisions, the President-Elect, two other members of the Governing Board, and the Chairs of FAIFE and CLM. It meets three times a year in person, and also keeps in touch to work between meetings by email and Skype.   

Lynne will start her two-year term as PC Chair at the Closing Ceremony of the Congress. When she isn’t contributing to the work of IFLA, she’s the Global Studies Librarian and Subject Specialist for Political Science at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in the USA.

What do you like about attending the IFLA WLIC?

Attending the conference is very much about renewal for me. Each year I have the opportunity to see, first-hand, the efforts of library professionals and members of other cultural memory institutions from around the world presented and discussed. New ideas, new initiatives, and new approaches to the old challenges we all face provide me with a sense of excitement, and sometimes wonder, at what library professionals can achieve. It is also a great opportunity to reconnect with old friends and strike up new acquaintances. The opportunity to travel to a unique and welcoming place like Singapore is an added plus!

What kinds of meetings and events have you enjoyed attending? How different do you think the congress experience is for a “normal” conference participant?

I have enjoyed attending the social events such as the Cultural Evening and the Opening Session for the wonderful cultural exposure brought to them. The Leadership Brief and the Division meetings are excellent opportunities to network with colleagues from a variety of backgrounds holding a variety of interests and I hope the new format has been beneficial to others. As always, I have done my best to attend the plenary sessions and the Social Science Libraries Section program, and the FAIFE events. In addition to these, I think the “normal” conference participant has the opportunity to really enjoy the presentations supported by our Sections and SIGS and learn a great deal in the process. I would always encourage attendees to step out of their area of interest and attend a session on a topic you know nothing about.  It can be a wonderful learning experience.

You’ve been on the PC for the last two years, what are the challenges for the new PC members that are coming in?

Happily, in large degree from the work of the previous PC, it is not the lack of a budget. I believe we are truly challenged to make our work more widely known. IFLA is in a fairly unique position of affecting change in policy and politics. I hope we can find continued momentum on the issues of open access and copyright and recognition for our profession. On a very practical level, the new PC members will be challenged to pick up where their predecessors left off —not always an easy thing to do. The learning curve for new PC members is very steep, but I am confident that they will be quick to catch up. There is truly a wealth of knowledge and experience here in new PC members, experienced PC members and, most importantly, Headquarters Staff.

What are you looking forward to working on with the new PC in 2013 – 2015?

At the very top of my list is communication. Communication technologies continue to develop and multiply.  What is the best means of ensuring consistent and transparent communication between all members of the organization with their varying communication styles and technological capabilities?  This applies to interpersonal communication and organizational communication equally.  Also, I am particularly interested in seeing the results of the promotion of a new Key Initiative related to Standards and Guidelines. The standards and guidelines that we develop can only have an impact if library workers can access and use them in a seamless manner.  This loops back to the need for better communication strategies that must be developed in the coming years. Finally, there is also the issue of continuity and succession planning for new members in the Sections, and also in the PC.  I would like to see us begin the process of assessing how well the organizational structure is working now that we are a few years down the road. While doing all of the above, we also need to continue to marshal funds in an effective and efficient manner and work cooperatively with and between Sections to make sure the monies continue to be spent on projects that truly support the values and goals of IFLA. 

How do you balance your IFLA work with your day–today job? What does your work in each place bring to the other?

Balance?  Like many, many others I am continually spinning plates, but eventually they all are brought into synchronization with the final goal of providing open, reliable, context-driven support for information seekers. The fact that my work in both arenas is so closely aligned provides some balance to what I am doing, but I do have to occasionally compartmentalize activities. The practical matters of being an embedded subject specialist for Global Studies require attention to instruction, collection development, scanning the horizon for new methods of pushing information out to the users, and sharing what I learn through research and publication. My work with IFLA requires me to understand the policy work we support and concentrate on organizational matters. They do complement each other well and I am never bored. I should also say that I have fantastic colleagues, both in IFLA and at the University of Illinois!  Without their encouragement and understanding, and the support of my family, there would be no balance in my work, or my life for that matter.