Jukka Pennanen, Coordinator of the 2009 IGeLU Conference in Finland
This year, the annual IGeLU conference took place in Helsinki, Finland, at the Grand Marina Congress Center. For an inexperienced conference planner, it was very exciting to organize such a big event—one that brings together hundreds of library professionals and technical experts and that had been so successful in previous years, when it was held in Stockholm, Brno, and Madrid. At the outset, the Helsinki organizing committee set a high target for the number for attendees; ultimately, over 450 people participated, making this conference the largest so far, with representatives from Japan and Brazil attending for the first time.
As the local organizers, we wanted to provide information about the content of the program early on to facilitate decision-making about participation in the conference. The steering committee worked hard to achieve this goal, and I must say that Michele Newberry and other committee members did a great job in preparing the whole program in a timely fashion. My gratitude also goes to all the library staffers who were actively involved in producing important content for a wide range of sessions and to Ex Libris and our sponsoring partners, whose contribution was truly valuable in making this conference possible.
It has become a tradition for the steering committee and working groups to hold preconference meetings on the weekend prior to the conference. During the conference itself, participants enjoyed social events every evening, including a visit to a spa and a reception at city hall.
There was a lot of fun with technical things, too. For the first time in IGeLU history, we had an opportunity to organize a video seminar, which was given by California State University’s Dave Walker. I dare say that it worked perfectly—though Dave had to wake up at five o’clock in the morning to give his presentation! We happily set up a forum—IGeLU2009—and the IGeLU Wall for open comments; during the conference, 892 comments were posted on the Wall through Twitter (http://twapperkeeper.com/igelu09/?limit=all). Combining Web 2.0 tools with a real-life meeting in an efficient way is a hot topic right now, and I venture to hope that these tools will find their way to future IGeLU conferences. We also enjoyed learning how to push program data and updated information simultaneously to the Internet and to the screens in the conference foyers in a continuous manner.
In addition, participants were pleased to have the opportunity to choose the name for the new enhancement-request system (whose working title was NERS). The system is now called CORE (Cooperation Oriented to Resources Enhancements).
The organizing committee was thrilled to receive participants’ positive feedback about the conference. Although my responsibilities on the organizing side limited my opportunities to listen to presentations carefully, it was a pleasure to read comments that the presentations were “interesting and informative.”
IGeLU is not only a vast community, but it is also an integrated, well-organized network with a large number of active, talented members who work tirelessly for our shared objectives. The annual IGeLU conferences are a powerful manifestation of the significance and value of community energy.
I would like to take this opportunity to thank the members of the organizing committee for the extremely valuable work they do. I would also like to express my appreciation to the people who helped make the local arrangements for the 4th IGeLU conference and guaranteed its success (there are too many to list all the names!), and in particular the Helsinki steering committee.