Reflections: Asia Pacific Library & Information Conference 2018

APLIC 18 Organizing Committee

The Asia Pacific Library & Information Conference 2018 was jointly organized by the Australian Library and Information Association (ALIA), Library and Information Association of New Zealand (LIANZA) and Library Association of Singapore (LAS). It was held in Gold Coast, Australia from 30 July to 3 August 2018.

The organizing committee included three LAS Council members: Judy Ng (SUTD), Low Jiaxin (SMU) and Phoebe Lim (NTU).

LAS Booth at APLIC18

Council members taking a picture at the LAS booth before the conference begins. From left: Judy, Phoebe, Jiaxin, Jacky and Samantha

Here are their reflections after attending the conference.

1. What activities did you undertake?

Judy – I chaired a session, attended the keynotes which were inspirational and various presentations. I also attended a meeting where the 3 Associations discussed future collaborations and following the meeting, a communique on the discussion was put up on the website of the Associations.

Jiaxin – At APLIC, one of the events I attended was a pre-conference workshop on professional development, where ALIA Director of Learning Judy Brooker shared how ALIA’s PD Scheme works. Throughout the conference, I attended the keynotes, various presentations and talked to some of the exhibitors to learn what new developments they had.

Phoebe – Like Judy and Jiaxin, I also chaired a session, attended the keynotes, concurrent sessions, and lightning sessions. Together with the other 4 LAS Council members at the conference, I also took turns to man the LAS booth at the exhibition. Lastly, I met up with exhibitors whom I only had email contact with previously.

APLIC 18 Backdrop

The APLIC 18 backdrop at the entrance to the exhibition hall

2. What did you learn?

Judy – I was interested in presentations that are relevant to academic libraries. The presentations were wide-ranging and include a survey on scholarly communication practices, evidence-based delivery of library services, job redesign, etc.

The Conference is also a good platform for the Librarians from the three countries to share their practices. I can see that besides the formal presentations, informal sharing was done on the side as well.

Jiaxin – My main (and I think most valuable) take away from this conference was a stronger sense of the librarian community in this region. I followed mostly US and UK librarians on Twitter before this but it made the “library world” feel quite distant and abstract. The conference was a wonderful opportunity to build relationships with librarians much closer to home. It was also eye-opening to see the frequent formal acknowledgment given to indigenous peoples as we don’t observe this in Singapore, but it made me think about our local history as well as the values we hold and want to promote as a professional community.

The PD workshop encouraged me to think about professional development in the broader context of learning, where many different activities can be considered learning if one reflects upon the learning points.

The conference was attended by a diverse group of librarians and presenters also represented a whole range of library types. Speaking to different people during breaks takes you outside of what you think you know about librarianship and library life – really gives you a bit of perspective. Sometimes we have common issues and it is good to know how others are dealing with it or perhaps have even worked out solutions; sometimes the issues others face can be so much more serious and make your own seem trivial in comparison.

Phoebe – I learned from Judy Bloom, the first keynote speaker that we can manipulate Google Top Search by mobilizing a large group of like-minded people to search for the same phrase. Hopefully, the top search for “Librarians are” is now “librarians are the secret masters of the universe”.

On a more serious note, I must confess that I was a bit apprehensive about how the conference will turn out since the committee ran into several obstacles and difficulties. The team plowed through and I thought the conference went really well. Looking back, a large part of that success was the enthusiasm and efforts of the delegates. They came with such positive vibes and participated heartily. They owned the conference.

3. How will you apply what you learned?

Judy – I will share the information gained with my colleagues at the University. I hope to continue to participate in the conversation on collaboration amongst the 3 Library Associations. The experience gained through organizing this international conference can be shared with the LAS Council.

Jiaxin – I will adopt reflective practices to be mindful of learning points in things that I do. It is important to think critically beyond just doing.

Many presenters were not afraid to speak out on issues, take a stand on what they value and advocate for social justice or even for themselves (as libraries and librarians). This is a cultural shift that I hope we can slowly bring about in Singapore.

Last but not least, as a LAS council member, I will be sharing my observations from this conference with fellow council members to see how we can improve as an organization and serve our members better.

Phoebe – Like Jiaxin, I will also be adopting the reflective practices that were shared by Judy Brooker from ALIA. This interview-style post is inspired by that, a sort of group reflection. The first three questions posted here are “borrowed” ALIA’s Record of Learning Activities Form. Thanks to Judy Brooker for her generous sharing.

ALIA PD Card

9 questions to aid reflection

4. What left a deep impression?

Judy – This is the first time that the 3 Library Associations from Australia, New Zealand, and Singapore came together to organize a joint conference. I am impressed with the way the conference is so professionally executed through the commitment of the conference committee comprising representatives from the 3 countries as well as the ALIA team. It is very heartening to see how the event unfolded and was successfully executed.

Jiaxin – As part of the programme committee I could observe how a larger association runs a conference, and I was very impressed by how well-organized it was despite the size. The branding of the conference (on the bags, guidebooks, collaterals, and gifts for speakers) was also very strong and this definitely left a deep impression.

I was also amazed by the sheer size of ALIA and LIANZA and how their various committee and sub-groups (e.g. groups at state-level or for students and new professionals) organized themselves efficiently and enthusiastically for the benefit of all members.

Phoebe – The enthusiasm of the conference delegates left a deep impression. Samantha Ang, LAS President, in her opening speech, talked about how the Kallang Roar and Wave can only be executed successfully when everyone does their part. The organizing committee members worked hard on the programme and logistics but ultimately, it was the people who came that made the difference.

The next APLIC conference will be held in New Zealand. Look out for the call for volunteers.