Friday, September 9, 2016

My IFLA First Timer Experience

What is IFLA?

IFLA is the International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions. They are the leading international body that globally represents users whose interests are in library and information services.

Why am I writing about it?

Because I went! For the first time! Let me back track. 

A couple of months ago I received an email from my ALA Emerging Leaders Coordinator suggesting we look into a grant that was being offered by IMLS (Institute of Museum and Library Services) to attend IFLA. After a little research, I applied. A couple of weeks later I received the grant and found myself scouring their web page looking for what to expect. I attended an online webinar that talked about IFLA taking place in Columbus hoping to gain more perspective and still was unsure. Shortly after, a Facebook group popped up that consisted of other grant recipients. As people began introducing themselves on the group, it became even clearer what it is that IFLA was. These were librarians from across the globe. Countries that I had never heard of (I've never been good with geography) and countries I could only dream of visiting but sat on my bucket list still unattainable. 

Before I knew it, I was driving up to Columbus, Ohio to meet new people and attend a new conference. 

As someone who is new to attending conferences within the library world, this conference had me turning in circles and grinning from ear to ear. I've always been interested in the working of others. As I walked the halls of the conference center, I found myself catching bits and pieces of conversations. Some in English, some with heavy English accents and many in different languages. And I loved every second of it. This is what IFLA is about. Bringing the world together through our love for the written word. This was solidified when I went from session to session listening to ideas and actions taken to bringing literacy to libraries, bringing programming to better the community, events to add to our culture, to add to our experiences as humans living together. 

(a session on literacy)

But it wasn't all about the sessions, there were many opportunities to network through the events that IFLA had hosted. Whether it was going to the COSI (which was amazing, if you ever get a chance, you need to go), to the Billy Ireland Cartoon Library and Museum, to the Columbus Library itself. Admittedly, I felt an extreme sense of longing and jealously upon seeing their library. 

(View of downtown from COSI)

(One of my favs from the Billy Ireland Library) 

 (Columbus Library, they have their own underground parking!)

However, nothing was quite like meeting my fellow grant recipients. These were the people who I attended sessions with. People who I went to eat with. People who I walked around with. People who, to be honest, I felt like I knew for years rather than days. I met so many good souls who I still stay in touch with. People I hope to one day be able to visit their country and take the tour as they have taken it here. Some of the kindest, most accepting souls I have ever met. I heard stories about their homelands, I was given trinkets to remember them by, and memories that I constantly talk about whether at work or in my personal life.

(Some of the other grant recipients and myself posing for a group picture!)

Thank you, IFLA for an amazing experience.

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