It’s now the end of day 3 for IFLA 2008. One of my favourite things about conferences is the ability to meet people and network. I’ve met some terrific professional gurus, as well as promising young library students who will soon be entering the profession. The students I’m meeting are eager to join the profession and make their mark – I love it!
This actually leads me to a session I attended this evening: “Mind the gap: bridging the inter-generational divide” which was presented by the New Professionals Discussion Group. Sounds promising, right? WRONG. This session was all about recruiting young professionals to join library associations. We were a captive audience – and all that was presented was how important it is that we join associations so that we can be mentored and groomed and introduced to the right people. I’ve been to a number of sessions over the past several days, and this is the only one where I felt I was being patronized. Because we are young professionals (by which, they assumed all of us were library students) they were laid back to the point of trying to be “cool” to connect with us. They did not present in a professional manner or provide professional insight into libraries, what’s expected of newcomers to the profession and what we can expect. They did not address how they are attempting to bridge the gap with existing professions and new professionals. And sadly, the biggest failure was that while there were a number of students AND young practicing professionals, there were very few (VERY FEW) older professionals. How can we bridge a gap when there is no dialogue between both parties? It is not up to the newbies alone to adjust, mature, and be molded into what the older generations want. The older generation needs to mold and adjust as well. That, sadly, was a great disappointment and many of the students I spoke with felt misled by the topic and the content (and, dare I say, propaganda) that was presented. Never was the inter-generational divide more apparent than it was in this session.
On a lighter and more positive note – I was able to attend a fabulous session yesterday on Bibliographic Control and what is being done in many libraries with regard to digital information. Beacher Wiggins presented LC’s thoughts on RDA and the future of bibliographic control from LC’s point of view. During his talk, Wiggins explained how LC was going to go about testing RDA. Not only will they be seeking the input of other institutions (including libraries, commercial vendors and archival institutions), they will be looking at such things as interoperability with existing software and methods (AACR2, MARC and existing ILS systems), financial aspects, training requirements and software/technology compatibility.
When the conference is over and I’m back in Halifax, I’ll have the time to write more fully on some of these sessions. However, I have to say that I can see a very promising future for cataloguers – if we can pursuade our management teams that we have knowledge management and information skills beyond creating MARC records.
The next two days will be full of sessions which focus heavily on cataloguing. Wednesday, I’ll be attending a Classification and Indexing session, a Knowledge Management session, a session on UNIMARC and Continuing Professional Development and Workplace Learning. Cataloguing and Bibliography sessions are on Thursday. I can’t wait to share what I learn!
As a final note, I would like to say that this experience is really an education. What I am really enjoying is the multicultural aspect. To see the excitement from a librarian in Croatia because they finally implemented an online catalogue in 2007 is amazing. That some of these librarians are facing much greater challenges than we are here in North America is really eye opening. It’s incredible.