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European Association for Health Information and Libraries
Association Européenne pour I'Information et les Bibliothèques de Santé



Dear Readers,

The 65th IFLA conference in Bangkok proved most interesting and it was good to meet old friends and make new ones. I asked Gemma Geertshuis, whom I met on the Medical Library Tour, to write about IFLA for the EAHIL Newsletter and you will find her excellent report in this issue.

The Biological and Medical Sciences Libraries group, chaired by Ysabel R. Bertolucci, held two meetings both of which I attended and I was pleased to meet a few EAHIL members there. (Most of the EAHIL members were in London for a very important ICML meeting which was being held at exactly the same time.) The first workshop had the theme: "An Enlightened Citizen and His Health: Consumer Health Information Worldwide" and Carolyn Willard, one of the two speakers talked very well and issued quite a few excellent Internet site addresses on this subject. The second meeting also lacked one speaker and it was left to Derek Law and Rob Palmer to expound the virtues of ICML in London 2000.

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Sally Wood-Lamont

Most interesting in this talk apart from the most obvious reasons why we should all be Converging on London next year, was the fact that there are eight scholarships available for Eastern European librarians and a limited number of accommodation places with London professional families. For further information go to the ICML well-presented web page at www.icml.org and contact the respective people, Lenny Rhine for scholarships and Rob Palmer for family accommodation. Both these concessions are limited and only early applicants will be successful.

The last IFLA conference that I attended was in Beijing, three years ago. I had thought that Beijing was big then but the 1,500 sq. kms of Bangkok is definitely comparable. Beijing is more densely populated than Bangkok is and it was also easier to get round, mainly because the Communist state there was able to stop the traffic at will. Ioana and I had chosen the King Park Avenue Hotel, Bangkok, mainly on account of its cheap price and it proved to be an excellent choice, not only because of its quality service, its roof open-air swimming pool open 6am-10pm so welcome in the humid, sticky heat, but also because of its relative nearness to the BITEC centre where IFLA was being held. Our bus trip every morning only took 10-15 minutes while others had up to an hour's bus journey every day. All the tours began before 6am on account of the traffic jams which literally stopped everything at peak hours. Just as in Beijing I was impressed by the level of politeness and the standards of service even to the extent of opening the restaurant to serve American Breakfast at 5am on our departure morning there. After six years in Eastern Europe I have become so accustomed to lack of standard service and quality in hotels, though in Romania it is improving albeit slowly, that it is such a pleasure to pay US$27.50 each and receive 5 star treatment.

As I think we all understand IFLA maybe is not one of the best conferences professionally in the Medical field but it is the highest platform for International Relations and also International Legislation and Standards in the field of Librarianship. I was understandably amazed when the Librarian of the Hua Chiew Chalermprakiet University Library and Information Centre, Bangkok, our library tour choice, came over to me and excitedly introduced herself, saying she was so pleased to meet someone from Romania. Songsan Udomslip's boyfriend is from Germany and his sister is married to a Romanian and next June she is coming to Romania to meet the family in a beautiful medieval Transylvanian town called Sighisoara, about 100 kms away from Cluj. Of course I have invited them to Cluj and so new links have been made! The politeness and the smiles of the Thai people, the magnificent Bhuddist temples with their pure gold Bhuddas and a feeling that one has visited an ancient culture that is still very much in place, will remain in many of the minds of IFLA delegates. Bali, on the other hand, is 93% Hindu as against Thailand being 95% Bhuddist and I spent a wonderful week there, a welcome rest after the hustle of the IFLA conference. In EAHIL Newsletter 48 I asked for articles with the theme of the last decade especially in Eastern Europe where changes have been considerable. I received an inspired article from Jelka Petrak which I hope will encourage some response from our readers. Another very interesting article in this issue is from Liisa Salmi regarding the problem of having two separate Ministries for a) Medical University Teaching Departments and Medical colleges b) hospitals and specific research institutes, a problem which is also echoed in Eastern Europe. Finland is trying to resolve this situation and I asked Ioana to reply to this as Finland's situation reflects very much the Romanian situation. I hope other countries will also join in this discussion forum. I also received an article from Livia Vasas about her visit to Finland which gave me the idea of highlighting a European country every issue and seeking articles about it so I have named this new section "Highlight on ..." and Finland will be the first country. In addition I would like to include in the next issue a Letters to the Editor Section which, in our extremely busy daily schedules, could be a way of encouraging more people to write comments and ideas rather than complete articles. Maybe some of you have other suggestions in how we can improve this journal in the new decade ahead of us. I would also like to ask for future themes for the EAHIL Newsletter and maybe we could assemble a programme. Please contact me at swood@umfcluj.ro or any of the members of the EAHIL Editorial Board whose e-mail addresses you will find listed in this newsletter. To finish, as this will be the last issue of this year I would like to take this opportunity to wish you all a very Happy Christmas and renewed EAHIL collaboration in the next century ahead of us!

Sally Wood-Lamont

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Contents No. 49


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