The main theme was all about the future; future libraries, infinite possibilities. Are we ready for the future? Are our services? Can we even predict how trends will happen? How can we ensure that our collections and our services will still be a part of the information process in a hundred years time? These are difficult and challenging questions to ask, but I found it really inspiring to be able to ask them together with international colleagues without any pre-existing assumptions or fears. It was liberating to gain different perspectives.
Essentially, we need to start to look at resource collaboration where appropriate and we need to think really carefully about how we can best expose our collections to the ubiquitous web search engines.
Open Access cropped up in several guises: as an aid to collection development in Canadian libraries, as an important tool in research development, and as a bridge between knowledge management and democracy. Subject access and collection management models also came under scrutiny. One newly established library explained how their collections model had been set up and the policy developed. Resource sharing models were explored, such as Taiwan's public library e-books model and the Uborrow scheme set up between several academic libraries in the mid-West of North America.
The future of MARC was a hot topic and much discussed in light of developments in linked data standards. As someone who has recently trained staff across my organisation in RDA, the future of bibliographic standards and models is very relevant to my work. If we accept that, as was proposed at this conference, a large proportion of our users are starting their information search on a web search engine, we need to make our bibliographic data more discoverable by web browsers. It is all about making sure that the library, our collections and our services, are not overlooked. We have so much value to add to the learning experience, we need to start making this more explicit.
On a professional development level, this conference was astoundingly important to me. I would encourage everyone to apply for awards and bursaries to attend international conferences. It has developed me and furthered my perspective on these issues that are affecting libraries now and will most likely continue to offer us challenges and opportunities in the future. What's really important is to recognise challenges and then turn them into positive opportunities. If we can do this, our future libraries will have infinite possibilities.