IFLA Pres Gloria Perez-Salmeron’s picture from Kuala Lamput

Guest post, aka “Fresh Eyes”, report from IFLA annual conference. Eugene Espinoza is a Filipino librarian and a new employee at De La Salle University and the paper he gave at the IFLA WLIC: “Repurposing the Philippine House of Representatives Compendia of Laws into a Searchable Database: Widening Access and Enhancing Services” on August 28, 2018, for the Parliamentary Division of IFLA.

If you weren’t able to attend I hope that you were able to stream some of the events covered.  Here’s the link to events streamed.  You can also find many of the papers presented online here. And now a look at the conference from Eugene — thanks for sharing and emphasizing that we must invest in ourselves and continue to learn and grow!

2018 IFLA WLIC will be one of the memorable international conference I attended, save for the 2017 Koha International Conference (KohaCon2017) of which I helped the realization of it being held in the Philippines last 2017. This 84th IFLA General Conference and Assembly was the first IFLA Conference I attended. It was made possible through a paper accepted by the Library and Research Services for Parliaments Section. I was only planning to get a day pass and attend only the day on which I will be presenting but thanks to Jane Dysart of Dysart & Jones through a Facebook post of Sir Von Totanes in one of the Philippine Librarian’s group, my attendance to the whole Conference was brought into fruition. This attendance was indeed memorable because I was able to get help from several people. Aside from the Conference grant, my accommodation was taken care of by Malaysian friends Jesse Kah and Chong of Edgetech Technology. I also had some funding from my parent institution De La Salle University. I am always of the impression that in order to grow and learn more as professionals, we need to invest and investing on such the IFLA Conference is a great way to invest. But due to being a family man, there is a need to temper on this dream to attend that first IFLA Conference. With the rate of things that IFLA is being held in the Southeast Asian region and with one of my two papers submitted to different IFLA Divisions accepted for presentation, what a better time to chase on that first and thanks to several people and institutions for helping me realize this.

I attended IFLA WLIC with the intention to personally enrich my knowledge, to network and to be able to share through my paper presentation. To learn in order to have something to bring for my institution, my library organization and to the Philippine librarianship as a whole. I attended the newcomer’s session and it was welcoming! I learned that there was an Un-conference two days before the actual Conference and I found this intriguing and can actually be emulated in future conferences or undertakings. In this way, this encourages us to book in advance for future IFLA WLICs. Another thing that can be emulated are the lightning talks, which can be emulated by local library organizations in the Philippines. Five minute talks of anything relating to the library and information profession and a couple of minutes of plenary discussions make it really interesting.

I was more incline to go over the Exhibition Booth and talk to the exhibitors. There was actually an Exhibition Passport Competition on which attendees were given an Exhibition passport and have it stamped by at least 25 exhibitors. After which, it will be dropped into a drop box and the winner of this raffle will be given a complimentary Congress registration to WLIC 2019 in Athens. I talked and discussed with the exhibitors lengthily and I don’t just go to their booths for the sake of just getting stamped. I went to most of the ILS vendors present as well as the booth of digital imaging companies. As a System Services librarian, it is my duty to be on the lookout of new trends in the library and information science profession so I did environmental scanning. I talked with the likes of Civica Library Solutions, The Library Corporation, Axiell and most especially with OCLC’s WorldShare Management Services (WMS) as I was tasked to do a comparative study between Sierra ILS and OCLC’s WMS. I also talked lengthily with the various digital image/scanning providers. What fascinated me was the product from Treventus Mechatronics from Austria and its ScanRobot 2.0 Mass Digitization System (MDS) as well as its Nainuwa Digital Library. I have actually been in search for a long time of a digital library system that will enable you to annotate on the document and Nainuwa Digital Library fits this bill. I have always been of the impression that digital imaging/scanning hardware are mostly produced in Germany but I was proven wrong when I talked with the exhibitors in IFLA as the country of origin of products that I visited are from France, Austria and Switzerland. As Systems Services Librarian, I am also tasked on the lookout for a possible analytics software that can be used by the library and I happened to visit the booth of Techknowledge’s DeepKnowledge, a cloud based service platform with head office in the United Arab Emirates, which could probably be utilized as the main e-library gateway.

What I like most on a big conference such as IFLA is that you can choose your own adventure, I concentrated most during the first days talking and mingling with the Exhibitors and attended sessions in between. I also attended sessions relating to my work like attending the EBSCO session on Folio, an open source Library Services Platform (LSP). Some of the sessions I attended and are of my interest are on Big Data, Open Access, Beyong MARC Cataloguing, Digital Preservation, Document Delivery and Resource Sharing, UN Sustainable Development Goals transforming societies through informed policy, Blockchain and Bibliographies. During the session on which I presented, we were asked to pose two questions that will be answered by the participants at the end of the presentations and I found this part worth emulating in future activities. There were six participants (three from Thailand, one each from Namibia and Uganda) for my posed questions and participants were responsive during the group activity. While waiting for the sessions, I looked at the various posters along the hallway and I’m quite impressed that many Malaysian libraries are already using Koha Integrated Library System as I was able to see most screenshots pertaining to Koha ILS.

Fun fact is that I was able to meet people with the same name as mine, one is Lithuanian Eugene (Eugenijus) and one from Greece (Eugenia). Well, I met and networked with other library and information professionals along the way and I hope that in the future if I need resources, I hope that I will be able to contact them, or even them contacting me. Even in this world of technology where persons can communicate through computers without them having to be physically present, the human spirit of physical contact still persist. You can meet experts face to face like meeting the wonderful team of IFLA Research Services for Parliaments Section Karin Finer and Steve Wise, whom I was only able to communicate through email correspondences. And there’s nothing like being in a room of like-minded people. Indeed, 2018 IFLA WLIC was a memorable event!