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The General Assembly is the major knowledge-sharing event of the year for EIFL. Coordinators from EIFL partner countries and invited guests come together to discuss EIFL activities and to debate state-of-the-art issues with expert resource persons, representatives from key international initiatives, and publisher partners.
The main theme was reaching out to our end users – sharing best practices and ideas. The sessions included addressing the barriers to the usage of e-resources, analyzing usage statistics to better understand user behaviour, and exploring FOSS tools to help users find and access e-resources. Another focus was evaluating the impact of services, and library advocacy in key policy areas: copyright, open access and FOSS.
The 2011 GA in Minsk was attended by 64 participants from 46 countries, and 15 publisher partners.
“It is a great honour to host the EIFL General Assembly. Electronic resources provide the main means by which library patrons can conveniently access global information. At the same time, it is important to meet face-to-face to discuss issues, not only virtually!” said Roman Motulski.
“What has impressed me most about the EIFL GA is the ability to meet people from countries that I normally wouldn’t get to meet, but that are equally important to our work. For example, I talked with librarians from Uganda and Mongolia – if it works out, we could have new partners in countries adding new languages to Wikipedia, and sharing local knowledge with the world,” said Liam Wyatt.
“I have been struck by the diversity of the countries attending the GA and their combined focus with publishers on solving authentication and authorisation needs to enhance access to e-resources by the library community”, said Brook Schofield, Trans-European Research and Education Networking Association (TERENA).
“Again EIFL has proved that its GAs are perfectly planned. This year’s conference in Minsk was a very nice experience for me. It was also a great time saver because, at the same time and the same place, I was able to meet so many national consortia coordinators and to discuss so many important issues. I am really happy that Emerald is part of the EIFL family”, said Marcin Dembowski, Regional Manager, Eastern Europe, Russia & CIS Countries, Emerald Group Publishing.
“The EIFL GA is a lively event that impressed me with its range of opportunities for librarians and publishers, and the quality of the presentations. The programme is well thought out, friendly and even fun!” said Luis Villarroel, Director of Research, Corporacion Innovarte, Chile
During the GA, two incoming Advisory Board members were welcomed – Kathy Matsika from Zimbabwe and Miodrag Dadasović from Macedonia.
“I have been able to apply so many of the things that I have learnt through EIFL. And I have developed a passion for copyright, ensuring balanced copyright laws in support of library work! I come to join this wise EIFL community”, said Kathy Matsika.
And we said goodbye to Advisory Board members Irina Razumova from Russia and Helena Asamoah-Hassan from Ghana.
“I have never experienced such a friendly and open-hearted atmosphere as at the EIFL GA. Our governments could learn a lot from the achievements of the EIFL family”, said Irina Razumova.
A popular feature of the GA is speed-dating. Participants have an opportunity to spend 15 minutes with each publisher and also EIFL staff to learn about new developments, discuss any problems or to simply catch up. It’s intense, but rewarding!
A fun new activity at the GA was a twenty-first-century treasure hunt. To highlight the potential of this FOSS technology increasingly used by libraries, delegates snapped QR (quick response) codes – which can contain Web addresses, location information or small amounts of text – with their cameras or mobile phones to reveal the sentence, “In 2010 EIFL saved its 47 partner countries over $175 million on commercial e-resources.”
We were pleased to welcome representatives from new partner countries – Maldives, Thailand, Uganda – as well as newcomers attending their first GA.
“My first impression is that I am gaining knowledge and experience and making friends worldwide”, said Fathimath Nashath from the National Library of Maldives.
“It is impressive how the EIFL staff give so much to the partner countries, how they work on such different issues and how they all work together”, said Soeythip Sukul from Thailand.
“The GA has allowed me to meet many new people to share ideas and experience, a strong concept in the ‘Francophonie’ countries. As I speak three languages – French, English and Russian – I was able to talk with many people! I have learnt new things and discovered a lot of e-resources that I will promote among our teachers and students. I can see that EIFL is one big family, and everyone is very friendly. You are doing a wonderful thing”, said Birama Traoré from Mali.
“Speed-dating was the highlight for me because I became aware of the vast resources available to us. In fact, it was a wake-up call that we as librarians should spearhead advocacy for e-resource usage in our institutions, thereby raising the levels of scholarly output in our countries”, said Judith Nannozi from Uganda.