The world’s largest and most important international library conference, World Library and Information Congress (WLIC) took place last week at the Convention Centre Dublin, the first time it had ever been held in Ireland. Over 2,000 librarians came to Ireland for this conference, organised by the International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions (IFLA), which included a guided tour of the reimagined and extended Glucksman Library at University of Limerick.
The Library, which opened in 2018, was designed to transform the space for scholarship in the digital age. The library includes a data visualization lab, media production studios, and a moot appellate court. Of particular interest to conference delegates was the library’s automated book storage and retrieval system (ASRS), the first of its kind in Europe. Visitors got a guided tour of the University’s Special Collections and Archives and heard about the conservation and cataloguing work underway for the Bolton Library. The Bolton Library is a collection of early printed books, manuscripts and incunabula of exceptional bibliographic importance.
The Irish Universities were represented on the national organising committee through Maynooth University Librarian and President of the Library Association of Ireland (LAI) Cathal McCauley and colleagues across the higher education and libraries hosted several events and site visits for delegates to the Congress.
The LAI was the local host organisation and worked with IFLA for over two years to bring this large event to Ireland for the first time in the event’s 87 year history. This was the first in-person event held by IFLA since 2019, as the pandemic led to its postponement when it was due to happen in 2020. Delegates from over 100 countries attended the event, making it the largest global library conference of 2022. In advance of the main event, a ‘flash mob’ event was held in St Stephen’s Green Dublin on Monday July 25th, featuring public readings of Ulysses to mark its 100th anniversary. Former President of Ireland and UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Mary Robinson, delivered the keynote address at the opening ceremony. This was followed by 3 days of talks, workshops and exhibitions on topics ranging from library history to Artificial Intelligence and the programme featured a speaker from Ukraine discussing the current state of libraries in their country. The conference had national and local government support, aswell as engagement from librarians across all sectors, and commitment and enthusiasm throughout the country from the many volunteers who welcomed the international delegates. The event provided opportunities to exchange experience and best practice with global library colleagues and provided Irish librarians with useful insights and helpful comparisons in order to advance global library innovation.
Recordings of several of the talks are available on IFLA’s YouTube channel https://www.youtube.com/user/iflahq