What are the global challenges faced by librarians – Reflections from IFLA

The last week of August once again saw the IFLA World Library and Information Congress (IFLA WLIC) take place. It continues to be seen as one of the pivotal conferences for the library and information services sector. Having been the publisher of IFLA journal for over ten years, SAGE are delighted to once again have supported the Academic and Research Libraries Section (ARL) attendance grant for the annual congress.  Each travel grant supports a librarian or information professional with a free place at the IFLA WLIC, which took place this year in Cape Town, South Africa.

This year’s three recipients were selected as:

  • Phillidas Munubhi Bweafoma (Tanzania)
  • Shaharima Parvin (Bangladesh);
  • Georgia Alexander  (Trinidad and Tobago)

All three were selected by IFLA for their insightful take on what impact the conference will have on their professional development.  We caught up with all three winners after the conference to find out the tops tips that they took away from the conference about global developments and librarian challenges.

This week we are delighted to share the thoughts of Shaharima Parvin, East West University, Dhaka, Bangladesh.


From attending the conference this year, what struck you as the key topics of debate?

I am very grateful to SAGE and IFLA for giving me the opportunity to attend this conference. As a first time attendee I was pretty excited to gather information from different discussions. Being an employee of a University library, my first intention was to attend the discussions based on academic and research topics. Apart from them the other topics which caught my attention as being key this year were how librarians can contribute to the achievement of sustainable development goals related to women, the importance of literacy and reading in the development  of strong societies and the role of technology in facilitating access to information.

What have you learnt from this year’s conference that you will take back to implement/ influence your career?

According to me, for any professional development, mentorship and networking is indispensable. Mentors help with providing advice and supporting your networking – networking leads to a good career.

The power and strong influence of a supportive group came through very clearly at the conference and has provided me with contacts that will be a life changing opportunity for me.

What top tips have you taken away from the conference and would you provide to other peers in your position?

As I mentioned before networking and mentoring schemes are key, but another tip relates to goal setting. Be confident and set out to achieve your goals, aim high and use your network to support you in getting there.

Lastly, I would like to add that I noticed something very amusing in the conference. Every single person there was very loyal to their working institutes and promoted them. Therefore, I consider loving who you work for another significant tip – be confident in who you work for and with, share the same goals and then we can all work together to achieve and support a more proactive environment.

How has the SAGE/IFLA bursary impacted your future career?

I always like to do something that will provide me with lessons that I can take back to my own country and the institute that I work within.

This conference has been incredibly supportive for young professionals who want to share their knowledge with their colleagues around the world and we can all learn from each other. Thanks again to SAGE/IFLA for providing me with this opportunity. I am confident that these beginnings will strengthen my ability as a professional, and help empower me towards getting to where I want to go, another boost for my goals through the networks that I joined and engaged with at the conference.

Keep your eyes peeled on SAGE Connection next week for the second instalment of our IFLA Winner’s blog series

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