Tuesday, June 23, 2020

Dear Colleagues,

I am writing to you as the President of IATUL; an Australian living and working in the UK; and a professional librarian and global citizen. These continue to be challenging times wherever you are in the world and I hope you are well and managing the new demands and constraints on how we live and work. In the many countries that IATUL represents, the impact of COVID-19 has been felt in different ways in different places.

All of us have adopted new ways of describing our current state of ‘lockdown’ or stay-at-home existence.  We have been working hard to resolve day-to-day issues around moving off-campus to online learning, and supporting staff working from home. For many of us, the integration of digital content and virtual assistance services as our core offering has proven that the library never closes. We are now also planning, and some implementing, what ‘return to campus’ will look like in our journey to a post-COVID world. There is a shared feeling that we will all be facing a ‘new normal’.

As members of the IATUL global community of library leaders, we have greatly benefitted from gathering together, experiencing each other’s culture and learning how these cultures have influenced the development of our library services.  We sadly are now unable to meet as we would normally in person. Our offer has always been one of providing opportunities between conferences through engagement with our Special Interest Groups (SIGs) and connecting online through social media. These online channels are even more important to us now. 

Our members who have offered to host conferences and seminars for 2020/21 are developing proposals to take these events online or to a blend of face-to-face and virtual engagement.

In response to the current circumstances,

The IATUL Board reluctantly took an early decision to postpone our Annual Conference scheduled to be held in Portugal in July. Our hosts, Universidade do Porto – Faculdade de Engenharia – SDI Library, have generously agreed to welcome you all to Porto next year. For some this may be in person, for others we will invite you to connect online.
For those who are able to travel, a deep discount on the early bird registration fee will be offered. 

The 2020 Annual Director’s Seminar, Innsbruck, will be online (November 2020). This is being organized as a digital workshop for library leaders on three tracks: i) Organization and strategy; ii) Competence and iii) Services. Our next Newsletter will be issued shortly and has further details.

41st Annual General Assembly. Following the postponement of the 41st IATUL Annual Conference in Porto in July, we are pleased to announce that we will be holding the IATUL General Assembly as a webinar on Tuesday 14th July 2020 (11am-12:30pm UK time) via Zoom. The General Assembly will provide an opportunity for members to engage with IATUL's work and to review our activities for last year and the coming year. Participation is limited to 100 participants for the session, so if you can attend please register as soon as possible. The registration link was sent out to all members on the 29th May 2020.

The Board has heard from members from what is described by the UN as ‘least developed countries’, and will be putting to the membership the need to adopt differential fees based on the UN designations.

Our Special Interest Groups are there for you so that you can remain connected and learn from colleagues. SIG members share a joint interest and are used to keeping in touch online through videoconferencing. If you have not been involved before, now could be a good time.

  • SIG DATA (Special Interest Group for Research Data Management)
    Cameron Riopelle (Chair), Head of Data Services, University of Miami Libraries, USA
  • SIG IL (Special Interest Group for Information Literacy)
    Vicky Grant (Co-Chair), Head of Library Learning Services, University of Sheffield, UK
    Linn K. Kristensen (Co-Chair), Senior Librarian, Health Sciences Library, University Library OsloMet-Oslo Metropolitan University, Norway
  • SIG MaRI (Special Interest Group for Metrics and Research Impact)
    Trish Wilson (Chair), Associate Director, Library Academic and Research Services, Victoria University of Wellington, New Zealand
  • SIG ALICE (Special Interest Group for the Advancement of Library Services in Emerging Countries)
    Bethany Wilkes (Chair), College Librarian, Yale-NUS College, Singapore
    A special thanks here to Bethany Wilkes who will be stepping down as Chair after 3 years leading this Group. More on the new Chair to follow.
  • NEW: SIG Space (Special Interest Group for Library Spaces)
    Kelly E. Miller (Chair), Associate Dean for Learning and Research Services, University of Miami Libraries, USA

Hosting a Virtual Directors’ Seminar. We are aware that a number of you had approached us with plans to host a Directors’ Seminar in your country. Given that we do not know when travel restrictions may be lifted in our different regions, members may wish to host a virtual meeting of Directors and senior library managers from around the world. IATUL can assist in making this happen. The process for submitting a proposal to the IATUL Board can be accessed on the IATUL website.

Our global IATUL Community, learning from and supporting each other. (#IATULtogether). The COVID-19 epidemic has thrown libraries into the frontline in many countries. We each have stories to tell about how we have responded and steps we are taking to ensure resilience as we lead our libraries and our staff in a time of unprecedented uncertainty at a global scale. Conversations are also starting to happen around what ‘return’ will look like and the scenarios under which we may be operating.

If you would like to share your stories, please send these to us (500 words maximum) so that we can have them available on the IATUL website.  You may wish to share through social media, and so that we all can follow please use the #IATULtogether.

IATUL Conference 2022 Miami. Our hosts, University of Miami and Florida International University (FIU) are continuing their planning as we look forward to brighter days ahead.

IATUL is uniquely placed in its mission to welcome, nurture and maintain a connected community of leaders of university libraries from all corners of the world. I hope all of you are able to keep well and safe.

Best wishes

Anne and the Board

Board Members :

Anne Horn, Director of Library Services and University Librarian, University of Sheffield - President
Dr Charles Eckman, Dean and University Librarian, University of Miami – Vice President
Lucille Webster, Director, Library Services, Durban University of Technology - Secretary
Donna Bourne-Tyson, University Librarian, Dalhousie University- Interim Treasurer
Jill Benn, University Librarian, University of Western Australia
Lars Egeland, Director for Learning Centre and Library, Oslo Metropolitan University
Dr J K Vijayakumar, Library Director, King Abdullah University of Science and Technology
Dr Anna Walek, Library Director, Gdansk University of Technology