The fourth Regional Conference of the International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions (IFLA) in the Arab world concluded yesterday (Friday) in Sharjah, with a strong emphasis on the need for the adoption of resilient information technology (IT) practices by the region’s library sector.
Organised by the Sharjah Book Authority (SBA), the conference was held under the theme ‘The Impact of Information Technology (IT) and Digital Knowledge on Arab Organisations and Business Environment’, as part of Sharjah World Book Capital 2019 activities at Expo Centre Sharjah.
The two-day event, saw the participation of 140 attendees including library professionals, technology and book industry experts and members of media from the UAE, Jordan, Bahrain, Tunisia, Algeria, Djibouti, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Iraq, Oman, Kuwait, Lebanon, Libya, Egypt, Morocco and other countries.
Eight recommendations shared
The conference’s final statement featured a list of eight recommendations, which stressed that Arab IT entities need to adopt resilient policies and standards in view of modern technological development. The recommendations have also made a call to the International Federation for Libraries and Information (IFLA) in the Arab world to unite national, regional and Arab information entities to participate in library and Information councils and committees.
Arab region’s information entities have been strongly recommended to adopt efficient programmes to raise awareness among information beneficiaries. The statement recommended Arab academic departments to conduct studies that take into account the novelties of the changing landscape of information and digital knowledge to meet market needs. Private sector institutions have also been encouraged to facilitate the growth of the Arab information environment.
The recommendations stressed the need for more Arab digital knowledge initiatives to ensure better sharing of information. Other recommendations have underscored the importance of raising awareness on intellectual property (IP) rights among all parties in contact with sources, carriers and receptacles of information. The final recommendation is about the importance of being sufficiently prepared to tackle external violations and threats, which requires the promotion of awareness about the precise implementation of cyber security procedures.
16 scientific papers discussed
The conference discussed 16 scientific papers at different sessions over the two days. The papers shed light on the reality, role and impact of information technology on Arab organisations and the region’s business environment. These papers also addressed the radical transformation brought about by the digital and technological revolution at all levels, particularly in the libraries and Information field. The papers highlighted that this sphere is expanding each day and presenting new phenomena that will further elevate the business environment and the quality of its output.
On April 25, the first day of the conference, participants discussed the impact of information and digital knowledge on the systems of Arab libraries and information centres in one session. The bibliographic information authority control and the unified Arab catalogue, the evolving approaches of digital knowledge issues and their engagement with Arabic beneficiaries, as well as information’s role in the digital environment were also discussed in the session.
The second session saw discussions about the impact of IFLA’s global vision and Trend Reports on preparing and empowering Arab information experts in the Digital Age, giving examples on digital education platforms like the School of the National Bank Specialized Hospital for Children. The session addressed the role of digital library school and its impact on the learning process, citing international models and Egyptian success stories. The session explored measuring the utilisation of e-books and their significant role in the online and distance education filed.
The second day of the conference, April 26, saw a host of experts take part in two sessions. In the first session, they brought under the spotlight libraries’ new fields, the role of modern technology, IT and digital knowledge in the enrichment of the libraries and information field. Other topics discussed the role and impact of digital initiatives on ensuring free access to information, in addition to the reference services in academic libraries in view of the digital content.
Through an analytical insight, the participants discussed libraries in the digital environment and the balance between the responsibility to ensure free access to information and protect intellectual property rights. They underscored the importance of measuring awareness on information security among workers in university libraries. Other topics included the role of academic digital publishing in providing Arabic content, in addition to IT applications utilised in supporting the knowledge management process.