I’m pleased to announce that I survived my first IFLA – now all I need to do is convince someone to send me to Milan next summer!
But until then, I feel I should reflect on what I’ve learned from the experience:
- A lot of the people who seem intimidating are actually quite friendly and interested to hear what the incoming generation of librarians has to say. I had the opportunity to sit in on a meeting of the Conference of Directors of National Libraries, where the head librarians from over 50 countries sat around a table and each had a tiny little flag at their seat, which is exactly what I imagine the UN must be like. Afterwards, some of them stayed behind to have a glass of wine with the students (there were seven of us, one from each library school in Canada), and it was all very casual and friendly.
- Creative business cards are a great idea. My cards were a hit! They were especially helpful on the rare occasion that there was a lull in a conversation because I could tell people that I’ve recently taken an interest in photography, and yes, those really are my pictures on the backs of the cards. It was also good to have something to exchange with the people I want to keep in touch with.
- Lectures are interesting, but meeting people is even more valuable. At first I found it frustrating that I didn’t have time to attend all the sessions I would have liked to have seen, but looking back, it was really the one-on-one conversations I had that made the conference such an educational experience.
- Librarians of all ages love to dance! When I saw the size of the dance floor at the “cocktail reception and fun night,” I thought no one would step foot on it, but as soon as the band struck their first chord, the floor was packed.