Laurie Alvandian

(L to R) IFLA WLIC 2022 Emerging Leaders Jemmimah Maragwa, Laurie Alvandian and Michaela Mrázová with IFLA NPSIG Convenor Magdalena Gomułka (2nd from left) and IFLA GB Member Jonathan Hernández Pérez (Centre)

IFLA’s Emerging Leader grants provide new(er) LIS professionals the opportunity to attend an IFLA Congress, engage with other professionals across the world and facilitate networking for the advancement of librarianship in the recipient’s institution, community, and country. 

Here are some past Emerging Leader experiences!

Laurie Alvandian

Laurie Alvandian is an IFLA Europe Regional Division committee member. She attended IFLA WLIC 2022 in Dublin, Ireland.

What were your three most important takeaways (i.e., insights or learnings that you’ve taken away with you) from the Congress?

  1. The potential for partnerships is endless — I was struck by all the innovative and creative ways that different types of libraries found to partner with both library and non-library related individuals and organizations. It really reinforced the sentiment that the library’s impact can be felt all over the community, not just within the physical library space. Moving forward I think it’s going to be more important than ever for libraries to get creative with their partnerships in order to extend their reach to more places.
  2. We have to be flexible about library funding — Hearing about this year’s nominees for Public Library of the Year Award was a really fascinating peek into the future of library infrastructure and funding models. No matter what type of library, the sustainability of libraries moving forward really relies on partnerships, sharing space, and diversity of funding sources.
  3. We’re all in this together — Sometimes in the library profession it can feel like all the odds are stacked up against you. The Congress helped me remember that we’re all one big supportive community, and that we should utilize that community. Meeting the other Emerging Leaders was also so exciting, and I really enjoyed hearing about the impact they are making in their home countries and the different methods they are employing to enact change.

What difference has this made for you in your work?

As part of my library’s International Relations Department, I serve on IFLA’s European Regional Division Committee. Prior to the Congress, we had only ever met online through Zoom. We’ve now had the opportunity to meet in person, discuss our advocacy efforts more in depth, and strengthen our bond as a committee. Additionally, hearing about the work of other national libraries and their ideas on attracting users to engage with their materials has been really helpful in my work at the National Library of Armenia when it comes to thinking about and suggesting potential new partnerships and programming. For example, the session on Outcome and Impact Measurement gave me a lot of ideas on future surveys we could do to grow library data and statistics. Also, the connections I made with both IFLA members and people at IFLA HQ have personally made such an impact in the development of my professional network and of myself as a professional librarian.

Have you shared your experience with colleagues? If so, how? If you have published blogs, participated in meetings, or shared on social media, do share links!

I have shared the experience with colleagues mostly in an informal manner, however I do plan to organize a series of webinars on various contemporary library science topics, many of which were informed by sessions I attended at the Congress, such as the Sustainable Development Goals, strategies in library management, and innovative library programming.

The National Library of Armenia made a formal announcement about my participation on Facebook (in Armenian).

What message would you give to anyone thinking about attending next time?

I would definitely advise them to do it. Our profession is one in which feeling a sense of community and support is really important. It can be exhausting to constantly have to advocate for yourself in your regular life and work atmosphere, so to be surrounded by hundreds of other librarians who just get you, and who you don’t have to prove anything to, can be really motivating and reenergizing. It greatly motivates me to be inspired by other librarians, and the Congress is the best opportunity to surround yourself with some truly awesome people who love what they do.

What advice would you give about how to make the most of the Congress?

Plan ahead! There is so much going on at the Congress that it can be a bit overwhelming. You won’t be able to attend every session or event, so make sure you pour over the Congress schedule ahead of time. I recommend picking a diverse mix of sessions – topics you’re passionate about, topics that apply directly to your work, and also some totally new topics. That way you’ll get a more well-rounded experience, and meet some new people.