This year, IFLA’s World Library and Information Congress was a virtual event, a result of the ongoing pandemic.
While everyone misses the buzz of a live conference and the opportunity to meet people in person, there are many positive features that the virtual event has introduced. For one, accessibility improved through online access. Delegates participated from remote locations as did those working within systems with less resources. So, moving forward, the hybrid conference will be the norm.
The “virtualism” of our new working world was underscored with relevance to BDS in a paper presented by Maud Henry, Data Operator at the Royal Library of Belgium (KBR). Entitled “Towards dematerialized cataloguing at KBR: Covid as a Catalyst”, Henry explored the ramifications of metadata creation on publications during the period of compulsory teleworking, eventually moving to an 80-20 split in favour of working from home.
The presentation confronted and analysed many of the issues, both advantageous and problematic, that have faced BDS over the past 18 months. Henry’s conclusions were positive. She observed that there was an improvement in the internal book chain and a greater transparency in the work process. However, questions remain, she states, over the effects of long-term teleworking on staff motivation.
Subject to Change
Black Lives Matter has raised challenging and engaging questions around subject analysis. One session dealt directly with how to deal with changing subject headings as a result of the increased awareness of ethnic diversity and attitudes across communities.
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This is an important debate which BDS will continue to engage with and report on as progress and consensus develops.
ISNI (International Standard Name Identifier) is a hot topic. A steppingstone to achieving Linked Open Data, the integration of ISNI into national bibliographic databases is ongoing in many countries. Maud Henry touched on this in relation to the Royal Library of Belgium in her paper mentioned above. BDS is working with the British Library on achieving this while it also built the ISNI agency website (see article).
I think all WLIC delegates are looking forward to a real-world conference in Dublin, Ireland, 2022. Nothing can replace meeting colleagues in a conference environment, or the opportunity to visit a new part of the world. However, our virtual conference in 2021 has taught us much and embraced the world across time-zones and cultures. Now WLIC has the means to meet in one place across the globe.