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Librarians from all over the world fly in to meet in Odense @LIBER2022

Author: Bertil F Dorch. Library Director, University Library of Southern Denmark; Associate Professor, Department Physics, Chemistry and Pharmacy

Like the birds gathering around a pond in a story by poet Hans Christian Andersen – the ducks, chicken and swans of his fairytales – people from across the world of research libraries will gather around a library in the city of Odense, Denmark, in early July this year.

About a year before his public break-through, the famous Danish fairytale author Hans Christian Andersen applied for a job as a librarian at the King’s library in Copenhagen – the capitol of Denmark. In his application he argued that he wanted the job so that he might be “relieved of the burden of writing”. Luckily, he did not get the job and continued writing. Lucky for us, but perhaps sad for the library. Andersen would probably have made a wonderful librarian: Curious, well-read, hardworking, a creative mind, and a bit odd, too.

It is well known that Andersen’s fairytale about the ugly duckling is an autobiographic metamorphosis story built on his own life, and that the mean ducks and chicken represent the citizens of his birth town Odense, while the swans represent the nobility that he himself so desperately wanted to be accepted among.

Hans Christian Andersen left Odense as a teenager in 1819 for the capital of Copenhagen. If we could bring him back to life and Odense, there would still be many features that he would recognize: The lush stream where his mother used to wash clothes still traverses the city, and the parks alongside its shores remain a green oasis. The narrow, cobbled streets with hollyhocks and roses clinging to the small houses where he grew up are still there, and so is the church where he was baptized.

However, since he left Odense, the number of inhabitants has increased ten-fold from less than 15,000 to more than 150,000 today. The city is the home of a thriving robotic industry and a booming environment for drone developments. Facebook has an enormous data center here.  He would probably be very proud when he saw the newly opened Hans Christian Andersen Museum in the center of the city.  And last, but certainly not least, the city is the home of The University of Southern Denmark, a truly research-intensive university ranked among the 300 top universities in the world.  The University is the working-place of more than 2,000 faculty and staff and 32,000 students, and has the second largest research library in the kingdom.

With such a large student population, Odense has become a ‘young’ city with a vibrant student life with its own increasing demand for a modern and efficient infrastructure, nice restaurants and cafes, and an abundancy of cultural events; and in recent years the city has been almost reborn from a sleepy midsized provincial city to a vibrant student hub, rated among the top 100 of cities to visit in the world.

From July 6 to 8, 2022 Odense and the University Library of Southern Denmark is proud to host the annual 51st LIBER conference, which has not been held as a physical meeting for the last two years.

LIBER does not only mean “book” or “free”, but it is also an abbreviation of Ligue des Bibliothèques Européennes de Recherche – the Association of European Research Libraries.

Since the foundation of LIBER in 1971, the LIBER conference has visited Andersen’s country four times (in 1978, 1988 and 2000): Three times in the capital of Copenhagen at the Royal Library – Andersen’s King’s library – with themes related to Interlibrary Lending, Collection Development, and Libraries as Global Information Leaders. The previous LIBER conference in Denmark took place in the country’s second largest city Aarhus – at the State and University Library – and focused on Re-Inventing the Library. This year, the fifth LIBER conference in Denmark than takes place in Andersen’s birth town – the third largest city – with the theme: Libraries in the Research and Innovation landscape.

The conference brings together three keynote speakers who represent the span of theme in an excellent way:

 Darlene Cavalier is a professor at Arizona State University’s School for the Future of Innovation in Society.  Professor Cavalier is the founder of SciStarter and a founding board member of the Citizen Science Association.

 Karel Luyben is Rector Magnificus Emeritus of the Delft University of Technology. Luyben is National Coordinator for Open Science in the Netherlands and, among other things, President of the European Open Science Cloud Association.

 Oksana Brui is Ukrainian librarian, a public activist with a Ph.D. in social communication, Director of the Scientific and Technical Library of ‘Kyiv Igor Sikorsky Polytechnic Institute’ and the President of the Ukrainian Library Association, while also serving as member of the working group in the development of The National Plan of the Open Science in Ukraine.

We hope to see library people from all over the world attending the 2022 LIBER Annual Conference physically and in person! To quote Hans Christian Andersen: “To move, to breathe, to fly, to float, To gain all while you give, To roam the roads of lands remote, To travel is to live.” (Andersen, The Fairy Tale of My Life).

And incidentally, since 2022 also marks the 200th anniversary of Andersen’s first book, nothing could be more fitting than that we should be meeting in a library in Odense in July!

More at: https://liberconference.eu/