Friday, August 19, 2011

Singapore Wins Bid to Host 2013 IFLA General Conference and Assembly

There's about two years to prepare. This should be interesting for librarians in Singapore :)

I hope to see some of my IFLA friends and colleagues again.

From NLB's media release, dated 19 Aug 2011:

Singapore Wins Bid to Host Prestigious International Library Congress in 2013

Release Date : 19 Aug 2011

Singapore, 19 August 2011 – Singapore has won the bid to host the International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions (IFLA) World Library and Information Congress to be held in August 2013. This announcement was made officially at the closing session of the IFLA World Library and Information Congress 2011 on 18 August 2011 in San Juan, Puerto Rico.
This marks the first time that Singapore is hosting the Congress, which is the flagship professional and trade event for the international library and information sector. The Congress takes place in August each year in a city selected through a competitive three-stage bidding process that is overseen by the IFLA Governing Board. The hosting of the Congress rotates among the IFLA regions of Asia and Oceania, Europe, Africa, North America and Latin America and Caribbean. Previous host cities included Gothenburg, Sweden in 2010 and Milan, Italy in 2009. The last Asian host city was Seoul, South Korea in 2006.
Singapore's bid to host the 2013 edition of the Congress was jointly submitted by National Library Board (NLB) and the Library Association of Singapore and supported by the Singapore Tourism Board (STB), Ministry of Information, Communications and the Arts and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The international convention in August 2013 is expected to attract over 3,000 participants from over 100 countries who will converge in Singapore to discuss the developments and new trends in the library arena. The programme will run over eight days, including three days of business meetings, a five-day conference programme, and three and half days of exhibition.
“Our successful bid to host the IFLA World Library and Information Congress will place us firmly on the world map of the library and information sector as the Congress offers a unique platform to promote knowledge sharing and exchange best practices within the international community. This will also pave the way for us to deepen relations and facilitate future collaborations with our global counterparts,” said Mrs Elaine Ng, Chief Executive Officer (CEO), NLB.
“We are very pleased to be the city of choice for the 2013 IFLA World Library and Information Congress. Singapore's vibrant and pro-business environment, bolstered by quality infrastructure, and a strong global network of strategic partnerships, will provide an ideal platform for the exchange of ideas and collaboration among delegates,” commented Ms Melissa Ow, Assistant Chief Executive, Industry Development (II) Group, STB.
“Further, Singapore's rich multi-cultural heritage, diversity of business and leisure offerings, and upcoming developments such as Gardens by the Bay, and the world's first River Safari, look set to provide guests and delegates with a differentiated experience of our constantly evolving city.”
A national committee, chaired by CEO of NLB, comprising representatives from the local library and information sector will be set up to oversee the organising of the Congress.

Here's more, from the current Library Association of Singapore president.

Tuesday, August 09, 2011

Celebrating Singaporeana: Happy 46th

In my friend Lucian's post, he admitted having the sort of prejudice some Singaporeans might have towards things made or achieved by Singaporeans:
It is true that for some obscure reason, Singaporeans look down on other Singaporeans. “Made in America” comes with the notion that the product is heavy-duty; “made in Japan”, quality; “made in the UK”, quaint. But when you talk about something that is “made in Singapore”, it is always the Singaporeans who’ll be first in line to pull it down. You’ll often hear things like “trying too hard to be [insert name of western country]” or “cannot make it”. Best of all, these criticisms are uttered by the ones who’ve never had the guts to even try.

I know, because I’m guilty of it.
(Btw the context of his post was Inch Chua's Open Letter to Singapore; her facebook post has been removed but you can read a repost here).

Lucian's admission struck a chord with me. I, too, displayed a similar sort of prejudice a few weeks earlier.

I was reading a book containing stories written by Singaporeans. The title of the book isn't the point. The point was my unconscious judgement, comparing those stories with my favourite non-Singaporean authors. I felt the "made in Singapore" stories were not "good enough".

On one hand, I desperately wanted to like the stories. On the other, I wanted to admit the stories didn't appeal to me. I even tried to rationalise why those stories weren't appealing to my tastes. My reasoning came up short.

I was torn between wanting the stories to be great, and having to acknowledge they were not.

Then I realised something else.

Even though I would not consider those stories to be 'great', I had managed to read the entire book from cover to cover. I read every single story. That was already an achievement. There have been contemporary best-selling authors whose works I can never read past chapter one, or less.

Once I got past my mental literary-hang up, it was easy to see what else was good about those stories. They were technically competent. There were no glaring spelling or grammatical errors. The story ideas may not have made me go "wow" (actually, very few stories can) but they were not run-of-the-mill ones. It was clear the authors put in what they were worth, and not out to insult the intelligence of the reader.

I also realised I didn't have to like every single story in that "made by Singaporeans" book.

Perhaps this sort of reader reaction is part of the literary territory. We all have our personal yardsticks against what we consider as 'best'. And I think it's healthy to compare, so that there's some specific literary target to aim for.

However, I think we Singaporean readers have to be mindful not to confuse "setting a goal" with "expecting every Singaporean author to write like [insert name of your favorite author]".

Another friend of mine is fond of saying, "Don't celebrate mediocrity".

I agree.

I'm not suggesting we endorse or embrace, by default, everything "made in Singapore" or "by Singaporeans". If the works are shoddy, we should say so. But I believe we should not impose undue expectations or comparisons. Enjoy the work -- a play, music, a piece of creative fiction -- for what they are worth.

We should not confuse "not being unique" with "not good".

If we have a flower that smells like a rose, it's OK to compare with another blossom in the next yard. But let's not forget: that very flower, grown in our garden, still smells sweet.

Happy 46th, Singapore.