Fishing in the information lake: the INFORUM Conference

Marydee Ojala joined hundreds of others 'fishing for treasure in the information lake' in Prague.

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Every year an important conference takes place in Prague, Czech Republic. Albertina icome Praha ( started the INFORUM conference for information professionals in 1995. With interest in online resources on the rise, INFORUM was an immediate hit, bringing together librarians and vendors in the region.

In 2015, the 21st year of INFORUM, its theme was Fishing for Treasure in the Information Lake ( Now an international conference, INFORUM had almost 450 attendees. Thankfully, for monolingual delegates, Albertina provided simultaneous translation of the presentations from Czech to English and English to Czech.

Keynote speaker Lyn Robinson, City University London, in her keynote talk, "Beyond the Word: the future of documents," proposed new definitions for documents, stating that everything is a document, even artifacts such as sculpture. After tracing the history of documents, she introduced the concept of immersive documents, "where the reader experiences a scripted unreality as reality." Pervasive computing, multi-sensory computing, participatory interaction, and virtual reality have the potential to let people step inside a book, not just read it.

Michael Levine-Clark, University of Denver Libraries, in his keynote speech, discussed the evolution of library collection development, asking, "Can we have it all? Do we want it all?" The transition of print collections to electronic, the fact that libraries are no longer places where people go, student expectations of immediate access to information, and new acquisition models combine to change how libraries view their sometimes conflicting missions of preserving knowledge for future generations and serving the curricular and research needs of current students and faculty. Issues of temporary access, perpetual rights, demand driven acquisition, and shared print archiving can dilute the discoverability of collections.

A cautionary note regarding reliance on patron driven acquisitions was sounded by Pål Hermod Bakka, based on his experience at the University of Bergen Library. When the library switched over to demand driven acquisitions, it didn't expect the financial hit it took. "We nearly went bankrupt," he said. The library spent four times its budget and, if it took currency exchange fluctuations into account, it would have been even higher.

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