Anne and I returned from Helsinki on Sunday night. This year, thanks to financial support from both Bibliotheca and Smartrac in response to my begging email to the UK RFID list, I was able to attend the whole conference as well as the second IFLA RFID SIG meeting – where I delivered some of the headline results from the global library RFID survey on Wednesday. Anne’s company – Credo Reference – was running a series of presentations in one of the many meeting rooms at the conference centre so I had company for the whole trip.
First event was the UK caucus meeting on Sunday evening. Credo had agreed to co-sponsor the event with CILIP and a good number of UK delegates found their way to the refreshment area in the basement where we were delighted to be visited by IFLA President Ingrid Parent. From a personal perspective it was the arrival of a small French contingent from their own caucus meeting in an adjoining room that gave me the most pleasure however…
Infor had been kind enough to invite us both to the IFLA Officer’s party the following day where I was very pleased to run into former colleague Neil Wilson and catch up with goings on at the British Library. After hearing about Neil’s death defying journey from home to station I resolved to make sure I see more of him in 2013 – one day he may not be quick enough crossing the A1!
My main purpose in visiting Helsinki was to support colleagues from Germany and Australia who have steered the SIG through its first year as part of the IT section (I’m still getting used to IFLA protocol and organisation so forgive any errors I may inadvertently commit here). Edmund Balnaves and Frank Seeliger have done a terrific job of raising awareness of the potential for RFID as part of the fabric and systems of the modern library and the SIG’s primary purpose is to generate debate and understanding of the key issues facing existing and would-be implementers of the technology.
Frank’s presentation of the work being done at TU Wildau in Berlin was fascinating. In particular I liked the monitoring station that uses RFID to manage evidence-based acquisitions for major journal titles. I will be seeing this for myself when I speak in Wildau in September and will write more about this new product then. Incidentally Frank has given me a limited number of reduced rate registrations for any UK librarians that might wish to attend. The second day of the conference – 12th September – is all in English and well worth attending for anyone who wants a glimpse of the future for RFID. Apply to me directly if you would like more information.
Over 100 delegates attended my session – including Annie Mauger and Phil Bradley – CEO and President (for life? J) respectively. That was two more from the UK than attended in Puerto Rico last year but they certainly weren’t the only ones present.
During conversations afterwards I was also delighted to meet a university librarian from Portugal who remembered me from my Dynix days!
As well as presenting high level findings from the survey – available here – I was able to catch up with old friends like Richard Wallis, Gordon Dunsire and Gill Hamilton who patiently listened to my enthusiastic ravings about closer systems integration without complaining (much) at my grasp of linked data etc.
I was also able to thank my sponsors who rewarded me by posting possibly the worst picture of me ever on their Twitterfeed. The only redeeming feature was that it followed one of the Queen (Elizabeth that is) published a day earlier…
I love IFLA. This was my seventh conference and it’s always great to meet new people as well as reacquainting myself with colleagues I see almost nowhere else – like Ophélie Ramonatxo from the Institut Français in London who balanced my inclusion by IFLA as a French delegate by becoming British for the duration of the conference – and Sara Wingate Gray (aka @librarian) who has a brilliant idea for using RFID in an art installation in a library that I really want to see happen!
IFLA gave me a great opportunity to learn about new directions in library automation as well as giving me the chance to suggest ways in which RFID can help libraries respond to the most challenging period of their long history. A later (more technical) post will discuss matters RFID but for now – Kiitos Helsinki!