Connection, Collaboration and Community – Reflections from IFLA 2016

The IFLA World Library and Information Congress (IFLA WLIC), a pivotal conference for the library and information services sector, took place once again in August. Having been the publisher of IFLA journal for over ten years, SAGE Publishing 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 Columbus, Ohio in the USA.

This year’s three recipients were:

  • Sarika Sawant SHPT School of Library Science, SNDT Women’s University, India
  • Wadzanai Ndlovu, Ministry of Agriculture, Department of Livestock and Veterinary Services, Zimbabwe
  • Vilarino Margarita Bellas, Presidenta de la Asociación Cubana de Bibliotecarios, Cuba

All three were selected by IFLA for their insightful take on what impact the conference has on the development of Early Career Researcher’s.  We caught up with winners after the conference to find out how attending is going to impact their future careers.

First and foremost we are delighted to share the thoughts of Sarika Sawant SHPT School of Library Science, SNDT Women’s University in India:

Hi Sarika, thanks for catching up with us. What did you want to get out of attending this year’s conference?

As a first time attendee I was excited about choosing which sessions to attend and meeting with delegates from different countries. Being an employee of the SNDT Women’s University, which has just completed hundred years, my first intention was to gather information by attending various sessions about academic and research topics which would enrich my vision to help to accomplish the mission of the university.

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

The theme of the conference was Connection, Collaboration and Community which is key to professional development. The conference gave me the opportunity to communicate with a wide range of library professionals holding different positions, in different types of libraries. It helped me to gain a glimpse of work culture, staffing patterns, innovative services, problems faced by librarians globally and future trends. I am currently sharing my experience with our university library and alumni association to encourage them to introduce the new library services that I saw discussed at the conference.

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

Every person that came to the conference had sound knowledge of the session that they attended and raised very valid questions and enriched the discussion by giving valuable input As I mentioned, connection was a key theme – we need to be connected to our community, sharing our goals, aims and challenges, working together. So overall study hard, be confident, set yourself high goals but remember to collaborate – lets learn and work together.

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

Worldwide collaboration is only possible by attending IFLA, otherwise there is no chance of meeting librarians around the world. I am hoping to develop collaborative research projects; actually our department has planned to host a lecture of a professor I met at the conference who was fortunately coming to our city this month. So truly the conference helped develop connection, collaboration and community.

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