Overseas Trip Sharing: IFLA WLIC 2017

In this series of posts, we talk to librarians who went on overseas conferences and learning trips to have them share their experience and some learning points. 

Shirley Lim attended the IFLA World Library and Information Congress (WLIC) 2017 in Wroclaw, Poland as one of the awardees of the LAS WLIC Grant, which provides LAS members financial support and opportunities to learn and network. The IFLA WLIC is the international flagship conference for the library and information sector, bringing together over 3,500 delegates from more than 120 countries. The following is our short interview with her.

Shirley Lim on a library tour in Kamienna Karczma, a town in Northern Poland.

 Please introduce yourself. 

I am a Children’s Librarian at Central Public Library, National Library Board. My main focus area is on early literacy for children under the age of 6. I am a Practising Professional under the LAS Professional Development Scheme from 2017 to 2018. This is my first overseas IFLA WLIC, and I’d like to thank LAS for making this trip possible with the generous grant. My appreciation also to NLB for making all the necessary arrangement for me and for granting me days off to attend this conference.

Which were the most memorable sessions?

I found these 3 sessions most memorable.

Libraries in Times of Crisis: Historical Perspectives

During the Iran-Iraq War in 1980s, the National Library of Iraq was forced to relocate to a safer site after frequent air strikes. Despite the difficulties and danger during the war, the staff members worked together courageously to transport the manuscripts, lithographic and rare books to a safer location. The Banknotes Repository of Central Bank of Iran agreed to safe keep the books and helped transported the books in sealed banknotes boxes.

Libraries and librarians from the Philippines have played a proactive role in the preservation and documentation of the events and effects of the dictatorial government of President Ferdinand Marcos. One example is the main library of the University of the Philippines. The librarians actively collected and later microfilmed the anti-Marcos leaflets, brochures, speeches and writings. These documents are now with the library’s Special Collections and are available for use.

Access to Programs and Conferences for People with Disabilities: Stories from three countries

By adopting universal design principles, more people including those who face temporary disability and the elderly are able to fully participate in programmes and conferences. Universal design calls for accessibility to all venues within a conference site not just the main entrance and exit. Speakers are required to keep presentations short and all images on slides need to have description. Crucial facilities and services such as hearing loop and speech-to-text interpreters ensure everyone can participate in equal terms.

The Accidental Assessment Librarian: Building Data Analysis and Evaluation Skills in Academic & Public Libraries – Continuing Professional Development and Workplace Learning

Libraries have moved from lending and reading towards public participation  of community-focused creative activities. Hence, the State Library of Queensland in Australia has come up with the Creative Spaces Impact Framework to help libraries articulate and demonstrate their values. The framework looks at 8 criteria such as connecting people to civic engagement, supporting health and wellbeing, and aiding cultural participation. The full details of the framework is available at: plconnect.slq.qld.gov.au

Did you visit any libraries during the trip?

Public Libraries in Lower Silesia

The public library at Czarny Bor is located in a rural Polish village in Lower Silesia. It serves as a community as well as a school library. The modern building contrasts sharply with the rural setting. The library boasts a big play space for children and can be hired for birthday parties. It also has a computer suite and a book mountain with a reading area on the top. Readers get to enjoy the stunning rural scenery as the building has glass walls and seats are available outside the library during warmer seasons. The cultural centre in the library serves a space to showcase lace work and other artwork by the villagers. According to the staff, the modern library instill in the villagers a sense of confidence and pride.


IFLA WLIC 2018 will be held from 24 – 30 August 2018 in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Interested applicants should refer to the official website for more details. For more information on LAS WLIC Grant, please visit the LAS website.