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Review: Knowledge Café Summary from IFLA WLIC Athens 2019

Our member Clare Walker writes her impressions of the 2019 Knowledge Café summary - available here for your own perusal. Thank you Clare for your kind words! - ET

It's very early morning here in Johannesburg, almost the summer solstice, and I often wake with the cool dawn light and sit with my battered old iPad browsing emails. I don't read in depth many LIS ones these days, but the early morning is a good time for thinking! So I opened the link to the 16-page Cafe report just to see what was covered, and was immediately transported through place and time through 35 years of CPDWL. I felt I could hear each discussion topic, the voices in accents from all over the world around the tables as we have done since 1985, the older and the younger participants sharing, confirming, disagreeing, expanding, their views and experiences over decades where the technology has changed dramatically but the human element hardly at all in its strong emotions, convictions, anxieties and most of all, cultural differences which bring such insights and spurs to thinking and understanding differently. Perhaps all global politicians should first of all be knowledge managers and humble, powerful members of our often invisible profession! All these themes have been the core of our discussions at conferences since Day 1, and they are as hot as ever. I thought the shared insights into problems of and approaches to thinking about that elusive recurrent concept, change management, just to pick out one, were so interesting and I am forwarding the link for the report to my colleague. He is managing a third major change, since the 1980s introduction of ICT -- "reimagining the library" -- but for all the new buzz words, 'plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose'! It is still all about the information resources ("the right book"), the users ("for the right person") and ourselves as the intermediaries ("at the right time"), and there's no other profession that focuses on this essential relationship. As I write, I realise that there are two newer dimensions to the old saying -- the right space, virtual as well as real, and the immediacy that internet technology has brought to the formula, with its own pressures and problems as well as immense advantages. This report makes me want to start my life in library education and staff management (such un-PC old fashioned words now!) all over again. We have made it so exciting! And truly CPD is at the heart of all this - little can be coherently achieved without this to keep professional practice constantly renewing itself with regard to the human factors, not just the very clever and "sexy" technology! This is what librarians really need to be doing.

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