IFLA is a world wide organization that unites librarians worldwide. Every year IFLA holds conferences in major cities around the world (last year the conference was held in Puerto Rico). Due to the overwhelming load of the participants that come from all continents and backgrounds, IFLA holds satellite pre-confererences to elevate the intensity of the main event. So this year these pre-conferences are held in four different cities, and that’s where I am right now. It may be strange how I ended up at this event, that is held this year in the capital of Latvia, the city of Riga.

The topic of this pre-conferecne is “Information for civic literacy”, so even though the target group are the librarians, I am here on the behalf of the library users, raising concerns of information availiability and pointing out challenges that teachers face if they are commited to promoting civic literacy in their classroom.

There are 127 delegates here, four of us are from Russia, I am the only one from Saint Petersburg (and I think I am the youngest one as well).

Yesterday we spent all day debating on the accurate terminology, what is civic literacy in the first place? In Russian tradition, we tend to use the word “culture”, in order to be able to include attitudes and activism into the picture. In English, the word “literacy” can mean knowledge, skills and attitudes – three in one, in Russian it just doesn’t sound right. So MY humble opinion is that it’s not as crutial to have identical terminology, as long as we understand the same thing.

On the unrelated to the topic of the conference note, I couldn’t help but observe the difference in rhetoric of the speakers. The German presenter was clear, focused on the data, very exact and brief. Lebanese presenter was very wordy, started from the historical overview, used a lot of pictures and photos in her presentation. The Chinese were a little bit tense and wanted to give as much information as they could, as if trying to impress their colleagues and establish some authority on the floor.

Overall I am very much impressed so far with the level of presenters and issues that are being discussed here.

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