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Some Frequently Asked Questions about the IFLA Conference.

Jerusalem, Israel, 13-18 August 2000


Why does the opening ceremony take place halfway through the conference?

Because the IFLA conference is not only a conference. It is really an occasion on which several events are happening at more or less the same time. Because IFLA is a worldwide organisation, the members of the committees concerned with managing IFLA have to meet at conference time. The same is true of the committees running the professional programmes (the divisions, sections and round tables). There is also the exhibition. All of this is in addition to the professional conference itself. The business meetings start on Friday and continue on Saturday. There are some more on Sunday together with some Discussion Group sessions and the first meeting of IFLA Council (at which voting will take place). The exhibition opens on Sunday afternoon. However, the conference itself really begins on Monday. That's when the highest number of attendees is present and that's when we have the Opening ceremony.

Why are some people always dashing off to meetings, but I only have the sessions and the exhibition to attend? What's going on?

The answer to the previous question provides part of the answer. Also many participants belong to other multinational groupings of one sort or another. They take the opportunity of the IFLA conference to meet face-to-face.

What does SI mean in the programme?

It means simultaneous interpretation. Sessions marked SI have interpreters who translate the lecture and any discussion into the five working IFLA languages (English, French, German, Russian and Spanish). You need to take headsets into the room if you wish to make use of the service. They are usually available just outside the room. When you take part in a discussion, please remember to speak slowly and clearly to help the interpreters.

How can I plan my time? How do I avoid clashes between library trips, workshops and sessions?

It's a good idea to sit down in a quiet place as soon as you have the programme with a highlighter pen and mark all those sessions, workshops and visits which particularly interest you. Don't confine your choices to your own sector of library work. (For example, if you are a school librarian, you may well find inspiration and ideas from speakers in a variety of programmes in addition those put on by the School Libraries and Resource Centres and the Libraries for Children and Young Adults sections. Because there is so much going on, you will probably be unable to avoid clashes altogether. Printed papers are available for many sessions. If it's a choice between a library visit and a workshop and a session for which there is a printed paper (which will also be available on the CD-ROM IFLANET Unplugged and on the IFLA Website), for example, you may decide on the visit or the workshop. Once you've decided on your preferred sessions write them in the small conference diary provided in your pack.

Can I attend ANY of the meetings listed in the programme?

You can attend any of the meetings, except those few which are marked "closed meeting". Many of the meetings scheduled for Friday 11 August, Saturday 12 August and Friday 18 August are meetings of the Coordinating Boards of IFLA Divisions, Standing Committees of IFLA Sections and Executive Committees of IFLA Round Tables. You may attend any of these by permission of the Chair. This is usually given. It's a good way to get to understand the work of IFLA's divisions, sections and round tables. Indeed, you may find yourself getting involved!

If I find that a session is not as interesting or relevant as I expected, can I leave?

Yes, you will find that people come and go throughout meetings at IFLA conferences. It is not always easy to estimate just how relevant a session may be. The speakers do not always speak in the same order as listed in the programme. Sometimes, a specific speaker is not available at the last minute. And, of course, there is the problem of clashes. If you think that you may not stay for a whole session, it is a good idea to sit in a position from which you can leave without disturbing many people. In any, case please do your best to enter and leave sessions progress quietly - you can often do so during short breaks between speakers.

What are caucus meetings?

They are meetings of participants from one country or language group. They are particularly important when Council meets and voting takes place. A caucus will try to ensure maximum impact for their votes by, for example, planning on whom to nominate or support the following year when the members of the Executive Board will be elected. Other matters of particular interest to participants from that country or language group will also be discussed.

Are there social events for people from my country?

One good way to find out is to attend "your" caucus meeting and ask. There is a tradition, for some countries, of the ambassador (or other representative) holding a reception for the delegates from that country. The evening of Tuesday 15 August is set aside for these receptions. Another way to find out is to look on the message board.

What is IFLA EXPRESS and where can I get copies?

IFLA Express is the free daily newsletter of the conference. It gives information about changes to the programme such as extra exhibitors, room changes, additional speakers, and cancellations. It also has reminders about the locations of social events, transport arrangements and so on. It's an essential read. English language editions are usually available each morning from Monday until Friday. Copies will be placed at many different points in conference centre. French and Spanish language editions will also be available throughout the centre. If you have a piece of information to submit, simply take it to the IFLA HQ secretariat.

Can I send mail home?

Yes, a post office is available in the conference centre. Many participants mail conference materials home instead of carrying them.

I understand there are elections. Can I vote?

Each Association Member (usually a library association in a particular country) and each Institutional Member (usually a library) has a designated voting representative. Personal Affiliates do not have a vote. So, unless you are the designated voting representative of an Association Member or of an Institutional Member, you do not have a vote. This year there will be voting on the revision of IFLA's Statutes. This will take place at the first meeting of Council on Sunday 13 August. A two-thirds majority of the total Membership (not just of the members present at the Council meeting) is required to change the Statutes. Therefore, it is especially important that voting members who cannot attend make arrangements in advance to exercise their proxy vote. There will also be voting on other agenda items and on resolutions which arise from the conference itself at the second meeting of Council on Friday 18 August.

How can I get the best out of the conference and justify my presence?

Plan carefully the sessions you want to attend. Be prepared to contribute to sessions during the question and answer periods. Use the social events to meet people and exchange experiences. Exchange business cards (or simply addresses) with people you meet. Make notes during meetings, tours of the exhibits and library visits of good ideas and innovations that you would like to follow up when you get back home. Write a brief report on the conference for your colleagues, including things you have learned or new ideas you would like to put into practice. Plan how you could make even better use of your attendance at next year's conference!


remember that the IFLA conference is a kaleidoscope of activities, events and visits. Concentrate on what works best for you. Find an 'old-hand', perhaps from your own country or library sector to meet up with from time to time to compare notes and exchange tips - or do the same with a first-timer. If this is your first IFLA conference, wear your first-timer sticker. You'll find that other participants will make you feel welcome and answer your questions. Help us to improve the conference for next year by completing and returning the evaluation form.

Above all - enjoy the IFLA experience!


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