4,000 people from 140 countries expected for international congress.
If you have an overdue library book or have been dragging your feet paying a fine, it's time to come clean. Aug.13-19, 4,000 librarians from 140 countries will descend on central Ohio for the IFLA World Library and Information Congress.
This annual meeting of the International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions was last held in the United States in 2001. Last year, the congress met in Cape Town, South Africa; in Lyon, France in 2014. (IFLA is headquartered in The Hague, Netherlands.)
How did Columbus beat fellow US finalists Seattle and Washington D.C.? Credit efforts by organizations including Online Computer Library Center, Columbus Metropolitan Library, Ohio State University Libraries, Columbus, Franklin County and the Columbus Foundation, and in particular, Experience Columbus.
CML CEO Patrick Losinski got the ball rolling on Columbus-as-host by approaching OCLC's then-head Jay Jordan. Losinski recalls IFLA's then-Secretary General Jennefer Nicholson saying "this might be the best-hosted site visit they've ever had. … We let them know it would be a very big deal to us."
Losinski co-chairs the congress' US National Committee with OSU Professor and Director Emeritus of Libraries Carol Pitts Diedrichs, who says Experience Columbus' proposal, the "partnership of equal partners" in Columbus and availability of hotel rooms near the Greater Columbus Convention Center were selling points, as was Central Ohio Transit Authority's Downtown circulator and its AirConnect, which provides passage between the airport and Downtown hotels.
Attendees will fill over 11,000 hotel room nights and generate about $8.2 million in direct visitor spending, says Experience Columbus.
Congress activities include an opening ceremony highlighting innovation, an event at COSI featuring US culture and food, a gathering of the world's national library heads and educational sessions. Attendees can visit CML's renovated Main Library, OCLC's Dublin HQ (in the midst of renovations) and other destinations. IFLA is underwriting costs for over 100 early-career and student attendees as well as for librarians from developing countries.
Carla Hayden, the new Librarian of Congress and the first woman and first African American to hold the title, is expected to attend.
"One of the other things I'm excited about is we have quite a significant contingent of Cubans coming to the conference, and my guess is they wouldn't ever have been able to come before" Cuban travel restrictions eased, says Diedrichs.
OCLC president and CEO Skip Prichard, an IFLA congress veteran, says no matter the location, "what's common with all of them is the passion of the global librarian attendees. ... This is a community committed to the preservation and accessibility of knowledge."