IFLA Meeting Glasgow 2002
The International Federation of Library Associations met in Glasgow, Scotland in August 2002 to celebrate its 75th birthday. Almost 5,000 people attended meetings at the conference center in Glasgow, affectionately known as the "armadillo" because of its unique shape. At the opening session, poet Seamus Heaney gave an inspiring keynote address, expressing eloquently the values and spirit of librarianship that the profession holds dear. Glasgow was an excellent venue for the meeting, particularly for librarians who remember with appreciation the Scottish philanthropist whose name is nearly synonymous with library architecture of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries—Andrew Carnegie. For many librarians, the term "Carnegie Library" connotes the small town public library where they first entered the world of books and reading. Without the support of Carnegie and the Foundation that bears his name, many small towns would simply not have had a library at the beginning of the last century. Several librarians participated in a special tour to Carnegie's birthplace, the Scottish town of Dunfermline, also the home of the first Carnegie library. According to the authors of a major research project at Robert Gordon University in Aberdeen, there are over 2,500 libraries worldwide built with the funding assistance of the Carnegie Foundation, many of which had representatives in attendance at IFLA.
The business of IFLA takes place in its specialized sections as well as its plenary sessions. The theme of the conference was "Libraries for Life: Democracy, Diversity, Delivery." Among the most interesting and inspiring of the actions was the unanimous adoption of the Internet Manifesto prepared by the Free Access to Information and Freedom of Expression core activity group. It represents a comprehensive statement of commitment to intellectual freedom worldwide.
Attending an IFLA meeting is usually an exercise in choosing which events and papers to attend, and how to balance the fun of seeing a new place and new culture with the enrichment of hearing perspectives on librarianship from around the world. The experience of IFLA is also affected by individual level of participation, and the opportunity to present a paper, as I did in 2002, adds another dimension to the experience. Proceedings of each session are available at the IFLA website (www.ifla.org);
individual papers area available also, as for example, the paper I read at the
Health and Biosciences Libraries meeting is number 115. [i]
In addition to the ceremonial meetings that marked this special anniversary of the Association, the usual number of receptions and social events took place, offering attendees a fine introduction to Glasgow and Scotland and an opportunity to meet new and old friends. Among the most memorable was the cultural evening at the Royal Concert Hall where performers from Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama offered a wide variety of musical treats to the audience. One of my most vivid memories is of the horseshoe shaped auditorium filled with librarians, joining hands together and singing a song specially composed for the occasion of IFLA's 75th anniversary.
[i] Dr. Dalrymple's paper is available online at
About the Author
Prudence Dalrymple is Dean, Graduate School of Library and Information Science at Dominican University, River Forest, IL, USA. She is also the Chair of the World Libraries Editorial Board.
© 2002 Prudence Dalrymple
Top of Page | Table of Contents