For The Love of Professional Development, From Zagreb


This report is for:

  1. my fellow library professionals in Singapore
  2. those I’ve met during the satellite meeting
  3. all who has a keen interest in continuing professional development in our profession

I leaned on many parties for my attendance at this satellite meeting to happen. First, I had generous sponsorship from my employer to be able to take time off from work, and also in sponsoring my attendance for the main IFLA WLIC in Athens. Thanks to the sponsorship of the IFLA Continuing Professional Development and Workplace Learning (CPDWL) Section, I was able to sneak a trip to Zagreb, where the satellite meeting was.

My attendance at this CPDWL satellite meeting was made possible because of the generous bursary from the CPDWL Section. It has been successful at creating connections that were otherwise unthinkable because of our geographical distance; it connected me with librarians from Croatia, Slovenia, and Romania. 

Presenting a poster on behalf of a colleague

Yee Xin – who’s the Research Librarian for Law at Singapore Management University Libraries – had submitted a poster proposal. It was accepted, but she was unable to attend in person. Her poster focused on introducing the mentoring program started by the Library Association of Singapore. Both of us were part of the Training & Development committee, and this mentoring program was the result of her team’s hard work. She encouraged me to present on her behalf. I was glad that I was able to bring a piece of Singapore librarianship to the National and University Library in Zagreb.

Croatia and Singapore, similar?

Croatia’s population is about 4 million people, and Singapore’s population is at about 5.6 million people. Croatia caught the attention of the Singapore media during the final stages of the FIFA 2018 World Cup. Singapore, a football-crazy nation, was impressed that Croatia was able to assemble a football team from its small population (relatively) to compete at the highest level. I felt a sense of the pride the Croatians had when I spoke about their football team. The Singapore government leaders and journalists had mentioned Croatia as a positive example. Despite having a small population, the Croatian football team was able to achieve much, and that the Singapore football team can dream big too.

The Croatian professional development setup

I carried that perspective and attitude with me as I went about understanding how I can learn from the Croatian librarians, and improve our state of professional development back in Singapore. Therefore, it was excellent to hear Antonija Filipeti share about her poster on the Centre for Continuing Education of Librarians in Croatia. I learned more when she co-presented a paper on “Continuing Professional Development of Librarians in Croatia.”

For example, their Centre for Continuing Education of Librarians issues certificates to those attending their courses. This certification is something which both our Training & Development and Professional Development Scheme (PDS) teams are looking into. Attendees of our past workshops have requested that our library association provide some form of certification.

I was also impressed that they have a regular schedule of webinars, as well as a “community of specialists,” which the Centre can tap from when it comes to organizing educational sessions. Historically, we had a slow response from librarians in Singapore when we issued calls for presentations, proposals, and papers. We encountered a lack of participation when we organized our first webinar last November. I hope the excellent work made by the Centre in Croatia can provide inspiration and impetus for a similarly rich and robust continuing professional development experience in Singapore.

The importance of satellite meetings

The secret of IFLA is finding time and energy to attend such satellite meetings! Whenever I mention to fellow librarians about my attendance at IFLA, I hear objections about the WLIC being “too big” and “too high level” for their preference.

Satellite meetings are more intimate. For example, I was trying to find a place to sit during my lunch. I found an empty seat next to our keynote speaker, Philip Schreur, and we started a conversation.

I also found another librarian with a shared experience that is arguably rare; Peter Kraus, who presented a paper on the importance of librarians picking up the skills of political advocacy. He shared candidly about his unsuccessful experience in the running for political office, and how he had successfully harnessed those connections in his library advocacy work. I am grateful for his encouragement to persevere and remain involved in political advocacy even as a librarian! I had a bruising experience myself after being involved in someone’s unsuccessful run for elected office many years ago.

It was also during our library visits (pre-satellite event) that I had opportunities to get to know other Croatian librarians.

Contributing back

I had an opportunity to meet other past and present standing committee members of the CPDWL Section. Being the newest addition to the Section, I could finally meet folks like Ulrike Lang, Matilde Fontanin, and Juanita Jara de Sumar in person. More importantly, it gave me a glimpse as to how my Section organizes, collaborates, and runs a satellite event.

IFLA is known for its ability to draw a diverse group of library professionals with an international audience. The same goes for satellite events, which attracts a regional audience. It was fun meeting a Croatian librarian who had worked in Asia prior, and finding out we have many mutual friends in the profession. I hope I contributed to the diversity this time at this CPDWL satellite meeting!

Contributed by:
Edward Lim
Reference and Research Services Librarian for Business
NYU Shanghai Library


Edward Lim is one of the many recipients of the IFLA CPDWL Bursary 2019. He serves on the standing committee of the IFLA CPDWL Section, and is also part of the Training and Development Committee of the Library Association of Singapore. He is the Reference and Research Services Librarian for Business at New York University Shanghai. Follow @BarbarianEd on Twitter and ask him anything.