65th IFLA Council and General
Bangkok, Thailand, August 20 - August 28, 1999
Some Frequently Asked Questions about
the IFLA Conference.
Why does the opening ceremony take place halfway through the
Because the IFLA conference is not only a
conference. It is really an occasion on which several events
are happening at more or less the same time. Because IFLA is
a worldwide organisation, the members of the committees
concerned with managing IFLA have to meet at conference time.
The same is true of the committees running the professional
programmes (the divisions, sections and round tables). There
is also the exhibition. All of this is in addition to the
professional conference itself. The business meetings start
on Friday and continue on Saturday. There are some more on
Sunday together with some Discussion Group sessions and the
first meeting of IFLA Council (at which voting will take
place). The exhibition opens on Sunday afternoon. However,
the conference itself really begins on Monday. That's when
the highest number of attendees is present and that's when we
have the Opening ceremony.
Why are some people always dashing off to meetings, but I
only have the sessions and the exhibition to attend? What's
The answer to the previous question provides part of the
answer. Also many participants belong to other multinational
groupings of one sort or another. They take the opportunity
of the IFLA conference to meet face-to-face.
What does SI mean in the programme?
It means simultaneous interpretation. Sessions marked SI have
interpreters who translate the lecture and any discussion
into the five working IFLA languages (English, French,
German, Russian and Spanish). You need to take headsets into
the room if you wish to make use of the service. They are
usually available just outside the room. When you take part
in a discussion, please remember to speak slowly and clearly
to help the interpreters.
How can I plan my time? How do I avoid clashes between
library trips, workshops and sessions?
It's a good idea to sit down in a quiet place as soon as you
have the programme with a highlighter pen and mark all those
sessions, workshops and visits which particularly interest
you. Don't confine your choices to your own sector of library
work. (For example, if you are a school librarian, you may
well find inspiration and ideas from speakers in a variety of
programmes in addition those put on by the School Libraries
and Resource Centres and the Libraries for Children and Young
Adults sections. Because there is so much going on, you will
probably be unable to avoid clashes altogether. Printed
papers are available for many sessions. If it's a choice
between a library visit and a workshop and a session for
which there is a printed paper (which will also be available
on the CD-ROM IFLANET Unplugged and on the IFLA Website), for
example, you may decide on the visit or the workshop. Once
you've decided on your preferred sessions write them in the
small conference diary provided in your pack.
Can I attend ANY of the meetings listed in the
You can attend any of the meetings, except those few which
are marked "closed meeting".
Many of the meetings scheduled for Friday 20th
August, Saturday 21st August and Friday
27th August are meetings of the Coordinating
Boards of IFLA Divisions, Standing Committees of IFLA
Sections and Executive Committees of IFLA Round Tables. You
may attend any of these by permission of the Chair. This is
usually given without fuss. It's a good way to get to
understand the work of IFLA's divisions, sections and round
tables. Indeed, you may find yourself getting involved!
If I find that a session is not as interesting or relevant as
I expected, can I leave?
Yes, you will find that people come and go throughout
meetings at IFLA conferences. It is not always easy to
estimate just how relevant a session may be. The speakers do
not always speak in the same order as listed in the
programme. Sometimes, a specific speaker is not available at
the last minute. And, of course, there is the problem of
clashes. If you think that you may not stay for a whole
session, it is a good idea to sit in a position from which
you can leave without disturbing many people. In any, case
please do your best to enter and leave sessions progress
quietly - you can often do so during short breaks between
What are caucus meetings?
They are meetings of participants from one country or
language group. They are particularly important in years such
as this when Council meets and voting takes place. A caucus
will try to ensure maximum impact for their votes by, for
example, concentrating on a favoured candidate for the
Executive Board. Other matters of particular interest to
participants from that country or language group will also be
Are there social events for people from my country?
One good way to find out is to attend "your" caucus meeting
and ask. There is a tradition, for some countries, of the
ambassador (or other representative) holding a reception for
the delegates from that country. The evening of Wednesday
25th August is set aside for these receptions.
Another way to find out is to look on the message board.
What is IFLA EXPRESS and where can I get copies?
IFLA Express is the free daily newsletter of the
conference. It gives information about changes to the
programme such as extra exhibitors, room changes, additional
speakers, and cancellations. It also has reminders about the
locations of social events, transport arrangements and so on.
It's an essential read. English language editions are usually
available each morning from Monday until Friday. Copies will
be placed at many different points in conference centre.
French language editions and - this year for the first time -
Spanish editions will also be available throughout the centre
a little later to allow for translation. If you have a piece
of information to submit, simply take it to the IFLA
Can I send mail home?
Yes, a post office is available in the conference centre.
Many participants mail conference materials home instead of
I understand there are elections. Can I vote?
This year there are elections for the Executive Board. They
will take place at the first meeting of Council on Sunday 22
August. There may also be voting on other agenda items and on
resolutions which arise from the conference itself at the
second meeting of Council on Friday 27 August. Each Association Member
(usually a library association in a particular country) and
each Institutional Member (usually a library) has a
designated voting representative. Personal Affiliates do not
have a vote. So, unless you are the designated voting
representative of an Association Member or of an
Institutional Member, you do not have a vote.
How can I get the best out of the conference and justify my
Plan carefully the sessions you want to attend. Be prepared
to contribute to sessions during the question and answer
periods. Use the social events to meet people and exchange
experiences. Exchange business cards (or simply addresses)
with people you meet. Make notes during meetings, tours of
the exhibits and library visits of good ideas and innovations
that you would like to follow up when you get back home.
Write a brief report on the conference for your colleagues,
including things you have learned or new ideas you would like
to put into practice. Plan how you could make even better use
of your attendance at next year's conference!
remember that the IFLA conference is a kaleidoscope of
activities, events and visits. Concentrate on what works best
for you. Find an 'old-hand', perhaps from your own country or
library sector to meet up with from time to time to compare
notes and exchange tips - or do the same with a first-timer.
If this is your first IFLA conference, wear your first-timer
sticker. You'll find that other participants will make you
feel welcome and answer your questions. Help us to improve
the conference for next year by completing and returning the
Above all - enjoy the IFLA experience!