I leave for South Africa in two weeks for the IFLA meeting. I will spend the first week traveling with my husband, sister, and brother in law. My brother in law is South African so we are fortunate to have our own personal tour guide to take us around. August is winter in South Africa (highs of 60-70 degrees and lows of 40-50 degrees). It is chilly but coming from Cleveland, that ain’t winter, that’s spring weather in my mind.
As excited as I am about touring around the country that first week, I am just as excited about going to my first conference outside of North America. Along with this excitement comes some uncertainty. I pulled up the conference program this weekend to map out my conference plan of attack. As I was making my schedule I began to feel like I did when I was making my schedule to attend my very first MLA meeting back in 2001 in Orlando. I had no clue what to expect back then and I have no clue as to what to expect at IFLA.
Similar to MLA they have a newcomer session where I will be introduced to IFLA and meet people. Like MLA they have A LOT of sessions, too many for me to attend all of them. Thankfully some are out of my scope like “Access to Legal Information and Legislative Data in Africa: the Role of Libraries and Librarians – Library and Research Services for Parliaments, Africa and the Law Libraries” making it a little easier for my schedule.
I am sure there were will also be opportunities at IFLA for events and parties where I will be able to meet new people. I just don’t know about them yet, my guess is that like MLA these aren’t on the official schedule. As MLA President I am going to IFLA to represent MLA and its members to a large diverse international library audience. I would like to use this opportunity to speak with and meet as many biomedical, health sciences librarians as possible to get a better understanding and perspective on MLA’s international presence.
Right now MLA’s international presence has been rather scatter shot. I would like to understand things better so that we as an organization can determine our international role in a more cohesive and strategic manner. My hope is that by attending IFLA, I will not only learn library things for my regular job but also learn about the role of medical, health science librarianship in the world and what part MLA can have in that.
It kind of feels like a lofty goal as I stare at the IFLA program and feel like a conference newbie again. I just need to remember the advice from the MLA New Members & Attendees breakfast, “just talk to people, librarians are nice.”