Report from the Prague Congress

I would like to draw your attention to all the material from the congress in Prague that you can find on the IAML website: presentations and slides, congress diaries and more.

This has inspired me to write my own congress diary. It is not a congress diary as such (and not in my native language Swedish, I promise!), but just a few reflections from the congress week. I hope very much that members who were not able to attend the congress would like to spend a few minutes to read my “report”, although it is far from exhaustive. It would be impossible to cover everything that happens during a IAML congress, since they are so full of presentations, events, meetings etc. I am therefore very grateful to all who share their experiences on the website and on social media platforms.

I would like to start by thanking the Czech national branch and the congress organizers once more for an unforgettable week in the extraordinary beautiful city of Prague. We were treated to wonderful concerts in beautiful venues, a rich choice of Wednesday afternoon tours to a number of Prague institutions associated with music, a Farewell Dinner in the spectacular Smetana Hall in the Municipal House and much more. Everything was done with great care, consideration and good taste. The main congress venue was the Municipal Library of Prague, which houses one of the largest music libraries in the Czech Republic. Some sessions were also held at the National Library.

Many attendees expressed their admiration of the Czech colleagues, who managed to mobilize a third time after two years of cancellations, due to the pandemic. We owe them a debt of gratitude for their perseverance and for being so good-humoured, in spite of the circumstances.

I was also moved by the fact that the Directors of the Municipal Library of Prague and the National Library of the Czech Republic have been willing to support the congress several years in a row. It is clear that the music departments and the staff that work there are very much appreciated.

Let me quote a couple of paragraphs from the introductory words of welcome in the Congress programme:

I personally very much appreciate the ties of the Music Department to the International Association of Music Libraries, Archives and Documentation Centres and I take it as a clear proof of active international cooperation aimed at disseminating the acquired knowledge in a global context.

-Tomáš Foltýn, General Director of the National Library of the Czech Republic

I am even more pleased that a significant part of your meeting will take place at the Municipal Library of Prague: the library whose music department is one of the oldest and strongest pillars of music culture in our country.

-Tomáš Řehák, Municipal Library of Prague, CEO

The congress was held together with the 9th Conference of Digital Libraries for Musicology (DLfM). There was a joint IAML-DLfM paper session, as well as a joint poster session. On the Saturday, following the congress week, there was a special RISM Day hosted by the RISM Editorial Center, acknowledging the 70th Anniversary of the distinguished Association, that is so important to IAML. This year RidIM, another of our esteemed R-projects, was holding its international conference adjacent to IAML’s, in Prague. The theme was “Looking Popular: Representations of the Popular in Music Visual Culture.”

This was the second time a IAML congress took place in Prague. The first was held in 1991, two years after the so-called Velvet Revolution. Those were optimistic times, but now a dark cloud hangs over Europe again and the question about how to support our colleagues in Ukraine came up on several occasions, for example at the Forum of National Representatives and the joint meeting with the “DAMO Committees” (the Development, Advocacy, Membership and Outreach Committees). We are now in touch with the Head of the National Library of Ukraine in Kyiv, Larissa Ivchenko, to discuss how we can help in the best way.

I sensed a special energy and enthusiasm in the air this year, when the IAML community had not met in person since the congress in Kraków in 2019. It clearly makes a big difference to meet face-to -face, rather than online.

The accumulated energy resulted in many things, not least the establishment of three new IAML groups: the Online Events Committee, the Study Group Linked Data Hub for Music Vocabularies  and the Project Group Annotated Exemplars of Music Cataloguing with RDA/LRM in UNIMARC. There will soon be announcements on IAML-L, encouraging members to indicate their interest to get involved.

Please, observe also a coming announcement on IAML-L about the online meeting “IAML Members Meet the Board”, that will take place in the middle of October – an invitation will soon be posted on IAML-L. The purpose of this meeting is to discuss matters of strategy in smaller groups, each led by a Board member. We will focus on two topics this time. The first deals with how to recruit members to the boards of the national branches. Several national representatives have expressed concerns about the longevity of their branch, since few members seem to be willing to accept long-term commitments nowadays. The second topic has to do with IAML’s future congresses. How can we meet challenges such as the different consequences of the pandemic; the climate crisis etc? We will also set aside time for other topics that the members would like to bring up.

Before I finish this, it is a pleasure for me to announce that the General Assembly in Prague awarded an Honorary Membership of IAML to Maria Calderisi, who retired from the Music Department of the National Library of Canada in 1995, and was the President of IAML 1986-1989. I recommend you to read Roger Flury´s personal and informative citation on the IAML website.

Finally, on behalf of the UK & Ireland Branch, I warmly welcome you to the 2023 IAML Congress that will take place in Cambridge from 30 July to 4 August!

Pia Shekhter

IAML President


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