Opening Congress of the Forum Library: Rethinking the Library

Published on
July 14, 2008

On 21 February, Wageningen UR Library organised a congress to introduce our new Forum Library to colleagues and users and to exchange thoughts on the theme "Rethinking the Library". Different speakers discussed this theme from the perspective of the collection, library automation, the environment, technological developments and the architecture. We are re-thinking the library because we stand at the crossroads where we have to make a clear choice about the direction we're going in.

You can find the talks and the photos at the congress site. You can find comments and more pictures at different weblogs, via Wow!ter. The talks and the new library were positively received. The organisation was perfect. The congress was interesting, animated and pleasantly busy. More than 200 participants from a wide range of organisations registered for the congress.
In his welcoming speech Wageningen UR Librarian Dick van Zaane emphasised the importance and the impact of the library concentration and the Forum Library and explained the theme of the day in more detail.
The first talk was a combined presentation from library employees Irene Veerman and Peter van Boheemen. From a content and technical perspective, they talked about development in the age of the Wageningen Digital Library and about the recently completed Library Content Management System.
The organisation also managed to have a guest speaker from abroad as part of the programme. Peter R. Young, Director of the National Agricultural Library (NAL) in the United States, had a well-constructed argument that fully examined the necessity of responding to the most important developments and challenges with information services. This response should not only focus on digitalisation but also on the challenges that, for example, global warming brings with it. Very appealing and recognizable were Young's comments about the importance of the library as a space. The library is a place where a user goes and sits and profits from the intellectual activity around him.
Liesbeth Missel, curator of the Wageningen UR Library, closed the morning programme with a short presentation. Under the title "Special Collections 2.0, Rediscovery in New Media", Liesbeth showed how objects from the Special Collections have found a place in all sorts of nvironments and websites. She showed some examples and referred to the beautiful exhibition that has been set up in the Special Collection's reading room, which is open until June.
In the afternoon programme, Leo Waaijers, project manager ICT and Research at SURF, a collaboration of universities, universities of professional education and research institutes, was the first speaker. Leo was not only invited because he has outspoken ideas about publishing and Open Access, but also because as Librarian of Wageningen UR (2001-2003) he made an important contribution to realizing the Forum Library. His presentation was interesting, critical and challenging. It was especially inviting for researchers/authors. Interesting and thought-provoking was the idea about a tender for reviewing.
Wouter Gerritsma, information specialist of the year, convincingly and enthusiastically showed how you can produce good and reliable research evaluations with the help of aggregated citation information, which are extremely important for research review committees.
Paul Wintermans, architect of the Forum Building, was the last speaker of the day. Under the theme 'Digital or Sacred', he charted the development of the Forum Building from idea to realisation with photos and sketches. Ivanhoe, castles, walled cities, connecting elements, Harry Potter, Umberto Eco passed in review and made clear to the public that this well thought out building is both imposing and beautiful and feels good. Large, but on a human scale.
All participants received a book about the Forum Building and a CD with the timeline.

(newsletter 1-2008)