Attending the WLIC-2023: Participation and Discussions

Post by Abby Moore, Chair, Social Sciences Section (2023—2025)
September, 2023

I attended IFLA 2023 in Rotterdam, the Netherlands this summer and, as always, the congress was well organized, informative, innovative, and fun.

After a quick weekend in Amsterdam, I traveled to Rotterdam by train and arrived Sunday before the main congress started.

What I noticed almost immediately about the city was that it was clean and pleasant and ultra-modern. Essentially, it was really cool.


I rented a bike to get around the city, like the locals do, and used it as my main mode of transportation throughout my stay.

As someone who lives in a southern city in the US, I’m impressed with, and envious of, the bike-ability of the city. The public transportation system is also fantastic!


As usual, the opening session was delightful. The interpretive dance performance mesmerized the audience. Princess Laurentien of the Royal House of The Netherlands addressed the attendees and spoke about the importance of literacy and books and libraries.

The Cultural Evening was at the Rotterdam Zoo – what a night! There were DJs playing dance music, burgers and French fries, and tons of exotic animals, particularly the “creatures” that greeted us upon arrival and “waved” goodbye as we left.

Our Section (Social Sciences Libraries) hosted a session, Bringing Back Patrons to the Library: Promoting Community and In-Person Programming in a Digital World, that was extremely well received. I co-hosted the event with the in-coming chair of the Reference & Information Services section.

Our presenters were from all over the world: Greece, South Africa, and Taiwan. The presentations focused on special programs that encourage patrons to come back to libraries after the long and isolating lockdown caused by COVID. In Greece, a repurposed tobacco barn was converted into a new public library in which teens met weekly for their book club. This program was a collaboration between the public library and the local high school. In Johannesburg, South Africa, the public library brought children to the library via a coding boot camp that promoted problem solving skills, teamwork, and socialization. In Taiwan, active senior readers participated in a book club that evolved into a course, which provided lectures and professional development that promoted workforce revitalization for participants.

Attending the World Congress is always a highlight of the year for me, but being able to moderate a discussion with library professionals about the creative and innovative ways they’re promoting literacy and life-long learning, in-person, in their communities was absolutely the best part of the congress for me. Not only did I meet amazing librarians, I walked away with a new appreciation for public libraries and the impact they have on their patrons and communities.