Prior to library school, I never saw librarianship as a particularly adventurous career. So I was pleased to discover that librarianship can take one to exciting places. In fact, I just took my first solo trip outside of the country for the BOBCATSSS 2018 conference in Riga, Latvia. My last post on hacking library conferences was a preface to the conference and in it I promised to share my experiences after the trip.
Before I do that, you may be wondering, “what exactly is BOBCATSSS?” According to the European Association for Library and Information Education and Research, BOBCATSSS is an annual symposium that invites information specialists to share their research regarding a variety of LIS topics. What is unique about this symposium is that it is organized by LIS students and takes place in different locations throughout Europe. BOBCATSSS, which conceptualized in 1993, is an acronym based on the founding countries (Budapest, Oslo, Barcelona, Copenhagen, Amsterdam, Tampere, Stuttgart, Szombathely and Sheffield; since then, more countries have joined the league).
The coordinators did an excellent job organizing the three-day conference. This year’s symposium kicked off at the National Library of Latvia (with a lively traditional Latvian musical performance, I’d like to add), while the rest of the program was held at the University of Latvia. The program featured daily keynote speakers and a variety of sessions in the format of poster presentations, talks, and workshops. Additional events included a gala dinner, tours, cultural excursions, and even a party at a local nightclub. I highly encourage LIS students to apply to this conference because not only is it student-friendly, but it is also student-led. It is a great way to gain presentation/conference experience while in school, and a fun excuse to travel to Europe. Not many American LIS institutions were in attendance, so it would be wonderful to see more American LIS students and professionals bringing back ideas and methods they acquired abroad and putting them into practice here. BOBCATSSS, as do all other LIS conferences, provide the incredible opportunity to exchange ideas, allowing us to progress our profession.
The conference theme for 2018 was “The Power of Reading,” which explored sub-themes such as reading skills/habits, communication, memory institutions, and technological institutions. I was able to adapt a summer project to fit into these themes. While working at the Slavic Research Lab at the International Area Studies Library on my campus, I was involved in creating a library exhibit commemorating the 100th anniversary of the Russian Revolution. My specific task was to survey and present how English-language newspapers, local and international, reported on the events of the 1917 Russian Revolution. I decided to share the process of my project in the format of a poster presentation. Not only did I feel that the visual nature of my project would best be presented on a poster (tip: see if you can get your poster printed on fabric; it made transportation a breeze!) but it seemed less intimidating than having to give a talk in front of a group of people. Funny enough, it turned out that the poster presenters actually had to present their posters on stage in front of all the participants following the opening ceremony instead of presenting in the style of a smaller research showcase.
As I embark into my final semester of library school, I realized that attending this conference and showcasing my project was a nice way to tie up library school. My project not only highlighted the power of reading, but the powerful and non-passive role of libraries as memory institutions. In creating this exhibit, I had the chance to work with a variety of specialists, and I understood the importance of collaboration. Libraries are not a relic of the past; they have embraced technological advances and provide information in many accessible ways. And not only do libraries possess valuable information, but librarians also create, organize, and share information with the rest of this world. That is truly powerful.
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