I was reminded by the editor of the norwegian library journal “Bibliotekaren” (The librarian) (PDF) of the former IFLA-president Barbara J. Ford and her motto for her 2001 IFLA presidentship. It got me thinking about IFLA and what the organization could do for those who never will get funds or a positions that would allow them to travel to an IFLA conference (WLIC). A comment by Ian Smith from IFLA on my last post on IFLA 2.0 promted a lot of thought on how IFLA could use social networks to become more open to individual and virtual members.
First and foremost I wish that all librarians could easily get in touch with colleagues in other countries who work in simular libraries and with simular issues. It would be great to have a Facebook-like social forum for international librarians where people could discover all the differences and likeness that exists between librarians from different parts of the world.
You no longer need to travel to get to know people, have conversations and enjoy a professional and social relationship with librarians from around the world. Today social software can facilitate professional development online in a way that has been hitherto impossible. If IFLA taps into the potential of allowing virtual members and creates an arena for them to meet outside of WLIC, then they will have done the world of librarians the greatest favor ever:-) (Especially if virtual members pay a smaller fee, but don’t get any paper publications in the mail)
I also hope IFLA can initiate the development of professional resources with a practical focus that is written by “ordinary” working librarians and collaborations between librarians from different parts of the world. Maybe a wiki-like system or more like Google Documents where participation and contributing is open to all. Especially since a lot of potential virtual members comes from countries where there is a great need for practical professional development, but little resources to purchase professional publications. An open system for professional publications would be a great membership benefit. And I would bet that there is a lot to learn from the same librarians when it comes to solving problems and running libraries in adverse conditions. If this information was shared freely and in a dedicated network it would truly make IFLA an international members oriented organization.