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64th IFLA General Conference
Amsterdam, Netherlands, August 16 - August 21, 1998
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Table of Contents

Conference Programme and Proceedings

IFLA Express No. 2 [Acrobat PDF version: 130K]

Pre Seminar Information

Information for Presenters


Honorary Committee IFLA '98

Conference Theme and Subthemes

The Aims of IFLA

IFLA and the Netherlands

Main Sponsors and Supporters

Netherlands Organising Committee

IFLA Conference Grant

Preliminary Programme Summary

Conference Information

Social and Cultural Activities

Accompanying Persons Programme

Travel Information

General Information

Registration & Hotel Reservation

Important Addresses

On Crossroads of Information and Culture


The library and information profession stands at a crossroads. The written word which has held prime position for centu-ries as the medium for communicating news, facts and figures, ideas and academic knowledge is giving way to a multi-media age. Libraries public, academic and special as traditional harbours of a country's written cultural heritage are facing a new challenge. It is not yet clear what the libraries of the future will be like, or how they will continue to fulfil their social, economic and educational role. While literacy skills remain an essential basic requirement we are also discovering that they may not be suffi-cient! The North and West have much to learn from cultures that have maintai-ned a tradition of oral and visual commu-nication.

In the information age, the range of media available for storing and distributing a wide range of data as well as creative expression has grown so fast that few people can cope, let alone the professio-nals.

Libraries are in a prime position to act as signposts on this new crossroads. Libraries in The Netherlands have a well established tradition of Co-operation with each other. More recently the Co-operation is extending to other partners in the information chain. In Amsterdam we hope to show you some of the results of that Co-operation. How libraries of all kinds, work together to meet the challenges of a multi-cultural, multi-lingual community; how as information professionals, we try to lower the barriers at local levels between information have's and have not's. We will offer you examples of how our public libraries are facing the challen-ges of an increasingly complex society so that they can maintain their pivotal social, cultural and educatio-nal role. There will also be opportunities to exchange experien-ces on how libraries increasin-gly support small and medium sized businesses. We will show how publishers and libraries can work together, and how specific training programs of library professio-nals tackle the extra demands made by the multi-lingual and multi-cultural nature of our clients.

The IFLA conference will prove to be a meeting of minds to discuss the problems we share. A forum where we can also formulate strategies to close the widening gap between groups that have access to libraries and those who do not. An opportunity to increase awareness of the uneven distribution of library and information resources at the global level.

Subthemes IFLA Conference 1998

The theme "On crossroads of information and culture" refers to various aspects of the library profession and topical questions, like the need for preservation and authenticity of sources, the legal framework, professional skills, the role of terminology, accessibility of services, the role of minority culture and the support of democracy. These items are visualised by the following images related to the crossroads concept, and can serve as inspiring sources for the conference:

The library as a refuge

Human beings on their journey of life are in need of directions, of information, but look also for a refuge or a shelter of culture. Libraries will serve these passers-by of all ages and of all colours with nourishing food. How can the librarian best serve the actual needs? In this house of refuge people come and go, a free flow of stories warms their hearts and enlightens their minds. How will their investigations, discoveries and reflections find a safe place where they can be best preserved?

On crossroads of information rights and duties

Rules are necessary for regulation on crossroads. But the main aim is the free participation of all and the careful transportation and distribution of ‘goods’. The more participants in communication, the more responsibilities vis-à-vis other participants have to be faced. Rights and duties have to be balanced to do justice to both creators and users. How can the library serve as the ‘free’ space, necessary for the circulation of information and culture?

New roads for the profession: media skills and mind skills

Amelioration of services must be the orientation for the library profession confronted with new technology. Craftsmanship has never been a question of technical skills solely, but has always required an alert mind and imagination to choose the most favourable conditions for the performance of work and services. Insight into the effects of intense use of new media should lead to new ways of guiding library users as part of their media-education. How can young people be involved in a substantial contribution to these new professional roads?

On crossroads of acceleration and deceleration

The new technological means for storage, transport and dissemination of information and the advanced tools for seeking and selecting information imply an acceleration of library services and document delivery. However, the processing of information by a human being into useful knowledge and inspiring wisdom necessarily requires time for acquisition, adaptation and reflection. How does the library support and combine the processes of acceleration and deceleration?

Directions for the accessible library

The high quality which can be achieved for library and information services to the general public should also be available for the visually impaired and other marginalised groups. What products and activities could give these human beings equal access to the crossroads of information and culture? Various projects of library co-operation may indicate new directions for serving increasing groups of disabled persons.

The library at the crossroads of the broadest highway and the smallest footpath

Many ways may lead to the crossroads of information and culture and many roads may depart from it. Even unknown paths can be entered, because ways come into being by being walked upon. Mainstream and minority cultures cross at the library without conflict. Forerunners and followers find a place to meet on equal footing. Information services are bridging rational research and moving mystery. How does the library preserve its integrity and democratic stability in defending the rights of ethnic and cultural minorities?

Libraries signposting simple ways in a complex society

An individual library user is in fact a multiplicity of personalities, formed by various cultures, living in an increasingly complex society. Libraries have a social responsibility to enable human beings to find their ways through these complexities. Literacy and free choice of information sources should be advocated and supported as tools for human emancipation and democracy. How can libraries contribute to simple ways in a complex society?