Sunday, August 26, 2007

News from IFLA and the Parliamentary libraries pre-conference meeting

It was very interesting and exciting to be at the IFLA Parliamentary Librarians pre-conference and hear of developments around the world. We all have so much in common—primarily a desire to ensure that all of our clients receive top quality services, that we use new technologies to achieve this and a commitment to efficient and effective research programs.

Mr S. L. Tsenoli, on day one of the conference, noted that the three most important issues for a parliamentary library were: to have a clear understanding of the needs of their clients, a flexible approach to service delivery and a determination to provide a first class service. These were reaffirming words for us in APH as the research that we have done into our clients needs really has provided the basis for our strategic planning to work towards flexible services, based on using new technology as well as existing technology and the right staffing mix.

Ian Watt from the EU reported on their major change program which, like ours, has been complex and led to considerable debate about service levels and staffing levels and skills. The concept of a skilled researcher requiring high level information skills is topical, as is breaking down boundaries between library and research staff and indeed breaking some of the boundaries between libraries and their clients.

Cape Town is cold and wet (average dam levels for the last year have been over 100%—we can but dream of this sort of environment). The South African Parliamentary Library has a terrific choir, cricket team and rugby team—all as a part of their wellness program—more food for thought!

Durban was been sunny and warm and the IFLA conference provided good food for the mind.

Australia was very visible at IFLA. Alex Byrne is the current President of IFLA and contributed to many sessions.

The Northern Territory Library won the prestigious annual Gates Foundation Access to Learning Award. The US$1 million award recognises the library’s work to provide free computer and Internet access and training to Indigenous communities and for its unique ‘Our Story’ database. The Northern Territory Library program is contributing to improvements in the lives of Indigenous Territorians living in remote communities. It assists people to retain 60,000 years of oral tradition, and plays a part in helping our Indigenous communities to survive and prosper through improved literacy skills and access to information.

IFLA Draft Guidelines for Libraries of Government Departments—the Government Libraries section have released the proposed guideline in draft form on their web site at It is intended to both provide guidance for new libraries when they are established and to be a tool for established libraries. The Parliamentary Library section is providing significant input and has suggested that is should be more of a framework with examples and best practice in appendices. If you have suggestions please make them directly to the section chair at

The Parliamentary Library Section presentations at the conference can be found at

SOLEDAD FERREIRO and JOSÉ MIGUEL MUGA (Biblioteca del Congreso Nacional, Valparaiso, Chile)
Understanding Cybersocial Network trends, for innovation in Libraries

INNOCENT RUGAMBWA (Parliament of Uganda, Kampala, Uganda)
Effective partnerships in parliamentary libraries and research services: a strategic intervention for survival in the 21st century

HUGH FINSTEN and WILLIAM R. YOUNG (Canadian Library of Parliament, Ottawa, Canada)
Partnering at the Canadian Library of Parliament

All provide some very interesting examples of library developments.

Many Australians gave presentations (and ex-Australians) including:

Rapid and easy access: finding and getting resources in Australian libraries and cultural institutionsPAM GATENBY (National Library of Australia, Canberra, Australia)

The Reflective Online Searching Skills (ROSS) Environment: embedding information literacy into student learning through an online environment.
HELEN PARTRIDGE (Queensland University of Technology, Brisbane, Australia)
Paper not available online

Public Libraries and their Communities: South Australia readsTERESA BROOK (Public Library Services, The State Library of South Australia)

Reaching new audiences: the People Australia and Picture Australia projects at the National Library of Australia
PAMELA GATENBY (National Library of Australia, Canberra, Australia)

Library 3.0: where art our skills?GRACE SAW and HEATHER TODD (University of Queensland Library, Brisbane, Australia)

Taxonomy Directed Folksonomy: integrating user tagging and controlled vocabularies for Australian education networksSARAH HAYMAN (, Adelaide, Australia) and NICK LOTHIAN (, Adelaide, Australia)

Special Measures for Special Libraries: Analysing Systems, Needs and WorkflowsSUE HENCZEL

Finally the 2010 IFLA conference will be held in Brisbane. A major undertaking, work is already underway forming a committee and planning events. It should be a great opportunity for many Australian library staff and those in the region to experience international speakers and develop networks that cross the globe.


Roxanne Missingham

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