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


IFLA CONFERENCE - Bangkok 1999

I would like to share some impressions about the IFLA Conference 1999 with you. Because of all kind of activities, I had been very busy and in fact it was a rather late decision to go to Bangkok. There were three objectives for going: 1. Continuing education, 2. Meeting friends and networking, 3. Having a short holiday. Maybe I should mention these aspects in a different order: First having a short holiday, meeting friends and networking and then continuing education. The order does not matter so much to me because they all tie in very well together!

This was my third IFLA conference and it was much better than the first time when I was overwhelmed by the size of this conference: I felt lost among so many colleagues and people I did not know. This time it was really fun and I think it is because every year you learn how to get to know people with whom you exchange ideas and discuss professional problems.

The opening of the 65th IFLA Conference was performed by her Royal Highness Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn where her theme was "Books for all and all for books: reading creates equal opportunities". Personally she showed great interest in this conference and even came back the next day to attend a workshop. After the opening a gala dinner was held with all the delegates.

There were some good meetings - sometimes it was hard to choose where to go because often the programme offered two interesting themes at the same time. The Biological and Medical Libraries Section had organized a workshop where Carolyn Willard spoke about "How to establish a succesful health information library in community" and Thomas Hill told us about his ideas of "MEDLINE Plus/Lonesome Doc: Internet based health services for every one". The Standing Committee of the Biological and Medical Libraries Section also wants to initiate some projects:

  • identify web-sites and books/materials of consumer health information

  • search for health information for illiterate people

  • to locate good training materials and training health professionals

  • Blue shield project: this is a database of the Red Cross. IFLA wants to coordinate on the collection of sources and documents about disasters

Very interesting also was a discussion group about "Knowledge management and business intelligence as a tool for special libraries". Knowledge management asks for new forms of partnerships to manage information. In an article in IFLA Journal in 1997 a new expression for the librarian was introduced "knowledge management professional"! Another was the one about Continuing Professional Education - Lifelong learning in the new millennium. Kenneth Dowlin and David Loertscher demonstrated in an interactive way how they gave "Web-based instruction for continuing education students" by making use of all kinds of technical possibilities. And there was much more and for those who are interested in reading some of the papers, just have a look at the IFLA site: www.ifla.org where all the papers are on-line.

And then there were the library visits! I visited the Library of Huachiew Chalermprakiet University. A rather new university, founded in 1992, but its history started actually half a century ago with the founding of a school for midwives at the Hua Chiew Hospital. The university now has nine faculties. This is a state-of-the-art library with many computer facilities to serve the students and scholars.The library still has lots of space and the collection is growing rapidly. They have books and journals in English, Thai and the Chinese language, a special Chinese Library, a rare book Collection, Chinese drawings, OPACS and Internet. A unique feature was the Princesses' Study Room, dedicated to her Royal Highness Princess Maha Chakri Siridhorn who visits the library regularly. She is an author herself.

And although there was not much time left, I managed to visit a few tourist sites such as the Wat Arum tempel (temple of Dawn), Ayutthaya the ancient capital and other temples outside Bangkok including the colourful floating market.

Gemma Geertshuis
The Netherlands

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Contents No. 49


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