We Built a Community!
Presenting at the 5th annual OCLC EMEA (Europe, Middle East and Africa) Regional Conference, in Cape Town, South Africa, Feb. 24, 2014
“If you want to go fast, go alone, if you want to go far, go together.” –African proverb
It was my pleasure to present and serve on the Breakout Talk panel, We Built a Community! at the fifth annual OCLC EMEA regional council meeting on February 24, 2014. The focus of the conference was, Library Community in Action: advancing knowledge, collaboration and innovation. The African proverb that inspired this theme, “if you want to go fast, go alone, if you want to go far, go together,” is very much at the heart of INALJ’s community of volunteers. We strive as a team and as individuals to provide job hunters in the US, Canada and internationally, with well sourced quantity and quality jobs for information professionals, such as librarians.
I was privileged to speak with Stephanie Diakité and Dr. Buhle Mbambo-Thata and our talk was facilitated by OCLC’s Fiona Leslie. From saving manuscripts from Timbuktu through an indiegogo campaign, to collaborations between a public library system and local colleges, to building a volunteer base from the grassroots up, our talks all focused on building cooperation through new channels of collaboration.
- Stephanie Diakité spoke about crowdsourcing and the T160K / Timbuktu Knowledge for Peace Initiative Indiegogo Campaign. She focused on the successes including raising over $60k as well as what she would do differently. She will be working further with the rescued manuscripts to help build a team to catalog them. She was also a keynote speaker on the story of the Timbuktu Archives and the dramatic rescue of over 300,000 manuscripts to Mali from Timbuktu by her colleague Abdel Kader Haidara, where they were nearly destroyed.
- Dr. Buhle Mbambo-Thata spoke about a fantastic collaboration between the UNISA (University of South Africa) Library and Tshwane City Libraries. Recognizing that the students who attended the university were mostly community members, the university and city libraries collaborated on an initiative that based its premise on the shared community of students that both served. Buhle published findings in 2013 in the Proceedings of the IATUL Conferences.
- Naomi House spoke about the founding of INALJ.com and how she cultivated a group of 180 volunteers. Focusing mostly on the strategic aspects of the process including successes and failures. Constructing a community takes a strong core (in this case one leader), a set of boundaries or set constrictions establishing what the group is as well as what it is not, and the cooperation of all involved. There was great interest in founding INALJ Africa pages for several countries and I look forward to launching several this year!
OCLC EMEA and beyond
The 2014 Meeting addressed the importance of ‘library as community’ and what the greater collaboration between libraries can really offer, as well as the concept in the context of sharing and innovation.
The spotlighted areas of community-based activity for the 2014 EMEA Regional Council Meeting were the following:
- Shared Services
- Technology & Innovation
In addition to the breakout talks presentations were made by some of South Africa’s most esteemed librarians and OCLC leaders such as OCLC President Skip Pritchard; OCLC EMEARegional Council Chair Robert Moropa; Charles Leadbeater, an independent and strategic adviser on innovation; Ellen Tise, Senior Director of Library and Information Services at Stellenbosch; John Tsebe of the National Library of South Africa; Barbara Lison and Ton van Vlimmeren spoke to their European campaigns using Geek the Library.
One of my favorite presentations was the Lightning Talks portion of the program. Denyse Knipe of Tshwane University of Technology, Nazeem Hardy of the City of Cape Town Library and Information Services Department, Anne-Lise Fourie of the Biodiversity Heritage Library Africa, and Mpho Regina Masienyane of the Lintle Community Awakening power packed into 5 minutes each far more than I could have anticipated.
The depth and breadth of presenters made this conference one of my all time favorites!
For me one of my favorite aspects of attending a conference where I truly do not know anyone at all is the how much my community grows during the experience. I have gone into some detail about my favorite community building experience at OCLC EMEA, riding the boat back from Robben Island, but I was also delighted at how many connections I met as well, including fellow Rutgers MLIS graduates and Wayne State’s own Sandy Yee, was also in attendance. Also a big thanks to ‘Mabafokeng Makara, of the National University of Lesotho who kept us company on the boat ride and at dinner the next day.
I was also able to speak with LIASA (Library and Information Association of South Africa) president Ujala Satgoor, and found out the many ways that South African librarians are celebrating 20 years of democracy since the end of apartheid
OCLC has many opportunities for librarians to serve on committees and many conferences you can attend globally. I know I will be attending more in the future.
Just do it! I am always looking for conferences when I travel because I gain so much from them. And don’t fret about missing this opportunity in beautiful Cape Town; IFLA is in Cape Town in 2015! I know I want to be there and hope to see you there as well!
All photo credits Naomi House or Sana Khan except the head shot of Naomi taken during her presentation and group shot at the Suikerbossie Restaurant at Haut Bay which were provided for this publication by OCLC and the collage created with http://www.photovisi.com/