Monday 9 May 2016

The Road to IFLA

Thanks to CILIP and my participation in the Leadership Programme I have been given the chance to attend the IFLA World Library and Information Congress (WLIC) in Columbus, Ohio. With just under one hundred days to go until the conference I wanted to share what will be the first in a series of blog posts looking at the experience. Hopefully I can help to shed some light on the process of attending a conference like this and encourage others to aim for the same experience.

Now that the shock of winning the grant has finally worn off I'm deep in planning mode. I've never attended a conference overseas before and I hadn't realised quite how much I would need to arrange - flights, accommodation, paperwork, getting to and from the airport .... The most complex my conference attendance has ever gotten before is working out which platform my train leaves from! IFLA have produced a checklist of things you need to prepare before the conference but it's a little sparse for an over-planner like me. It's been a whirlwind couple of weeks but I think I finally have everything in place.

With the boring but necessary stuff out of the way it's time to think about which sessions I will attend at the actual conference. The final programme has only recently been released and is still being updated but IFLA released a list of session themes a while ago. I'm especially interested in attending the sessions which focus on professional development for librarians. My role has responsibility for training Cambridge library staff and there are many of them with different needs so I want to see what colleagues around the world are doing in terms of staff development. Hopefully I can find some ideas to bring back and use in my current role. I'm also interested in attending sessions which look at scholarly communication issues. Even though I've been in my current role for six months now (where has the time gone!) I'm still quite new to the world of scholarly communication and there is much to learn. Finally I want to attend some sessions which have absolutely nothing to do with my role. It's been my experience from attending previous conferences that many sessions which don't sound relevant end up producing the most unexpected results. We can learn a lot from other sectors which we can then adapt to our own. Hopefully I will attend some interesting lessons as a result. With a conference as large as IFLA there are many sessions on offer and working out which ones to attend can be overwhelming. The conference has it's own online planner which allows you to put together a bespoke schedule of sessions and either print it out or export it to your calendar. Hopefully this will help me find my way around at the actual event.

There is also some downtime built into the week including tours and visits which I plan to take advantage of. I've booked a visit to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Library and Archive (because how could I not?!) and I hope to take one of the conference tours of Columbus as it would be a shame to go all that way and not see the sights. There is also a conference social event at COSI - Center of Science and Industry - which should provide a good chance to network in a less formal way.

I'm aiming to share what I learn from this conference experience in a number of ways - a series of blog posts, live tweeting sessions and I've finally registered for Instagram so I can share images. I hope people find this useful and that it encourages them to apply for similar opportunities. If there is anything people want to know about/would like me to watch out for then hit the comment button below.