19 November 2019

The centenary research conference “21st Century Libraries: Traditions and Innovations”

On the occasion of its centenary, the Martynas Mažvydas National Library of Lithuania organized an international research conference. Among its participants, there were executives of national libraries from numerous European countries, representatives from Lithuanian public libraries, communication and information professionals and representatives of the publishing sector. The event attracted librarians, book researchers, bibliographers and historians from countries of Eastern, Central and Northern Europe (Estonia, Lithuania, Poland, Sweden, Bulgaria, Czech Republic and North Macedonia) as well as from Portugal, Great Britain, etc.

The guests and participants of the Conference were greeted by the Head of the Department of Political Communication of the Institute of Journalism at Vilnius University’s Faculty of Communication Prof. Dr. Andrius Vaišnys. He reminded the audience of the historical origins of the National Library’s establishment and wished to use all that is best and most advanced within the global information network, i.e. knowledge and services provided by library professionals.

The introductory report “Life Library as a Model” was given by the Director General of the Martynas Mažvydas National Library of Lithuania Prof. Dr. Renaldas Gudauskas. To quote Mr Gudauskas, “The solid anniversary of the Library presents a favourable opportunity to evaluate the experience that we gained and continue the National Library’s success story during the second centenary of its existence with new ideas and energy. Libraries exist within the society under transformation. Therefore nowadays the main trend for library activities is the management of change. It is important for libraries to identify tendencies of the society’s advancement and become part of these tendencies. Though operating within the transforming world, the National Library continues its key mission: during the era of digitization, Big Data and artificial intellect, to preserve and manage all that was created by the nation through centuries.”

During the main session, there was a report delivered by Prof. Luiz Oosterbeek, UNESCO Chair holder in Humanities and Cultural Integrated Landscape Management, Polytechnic Institute of Tomar, Portugal, and Secretary-General of the International Council for Philosophy and Human Science. His report was about critical thinking and flexibility. Luiz Oosterbeek’s research interests include archaeology, philosophy and landscape management. He is the author of more than 300 research publications and 50 books, president of Instituto Terra e Memoria and visiting professor at several universities in Europe, Africa, America and Asia. To quote Prof. Oosterbeek, “The society should focus on underlying units of knowledge capable to unite diverse or even conflicting groups and their interests. In this context, the role of libraries has never been so vital not only in providing access to information and culture but also in achieving maximum use of possibilities offered by digital technologies as well as communicating a clear message that there can be no substitute for that which is palpable, e.g. books, if a person does not wish to be merely a user and wants his voice to be heard in solving issues as regards the future. Both national public and central libraries must cooperate with the educational system and become a pivotal component of the integrated and sustainable territorial development.”

The senior librarian from the British Library Liz Jolly spoke about collaborating to advance knowledge and mutual understanding among librarians, partners and leaders. Lizz Jolly has accumulated huge experience at diverse institutions within the academic sector. To quote Ms Jolly, “Within the changing world, libraries encounter exclusive problems. In order to successfully solve them, it is essential to promote leadership and increase professional experience. However, the most possibilities in this regard are offered by the wish of professionals and institutions in this field to act together. Lizz Jolly is a member of the editorial board of the journal New Rewiew of Academic Librarianship.

Jānis Krēsliņš, Senior Academic Librarian for Research Affairs at the National Library of Sweden, presented the report “Memory in a Time of Digital Inattentiveness: An Institutional Perspective”. By engaging in an integrated fashion the rich, but seemingly disjoint collections, he has been able to reassess the various meanings of intellectual history and transgress borders between various disciplines and periods.

The plenary reports highlighted common problems ailing the 21st century libraries. The analysis of these problems will be continued by professionals from libraries of Lithuania and other countries.

After the main session, there was a discussion, the participants of which were leaders of three national libraries: the Director General of the National Library of Estonia Janne Andresoo, the Director of the National Library of Latvia Andris Vilks, the Director General of the National Library of Poland Dr. Tomasz Makowski and Prof. Dr. Renaldas Gudauskas, Director General of the Martynas Mažvydas National Library of Lithuania as well as the the Vice Minister of Culture Ingrida Veliutė.

The discussion participants tried to answer the following questions: what is the role of partnerships and what opportunities do they offer? What is the impact of the transformation of building spaces on the emergence of new activities; what new developments have taken place in the fellow institutions of our neighbours? What is their vision when it comes to the transformation of the libraries of the 21st century? The discussion was moderated by the musicologist Gerūta Griniūtė.

In the words of the conferences organizers, the intention is that important issues addressed in reports and discussions will stimulate further dialogue and cooperation. The Conference has served as a perfect platform for communication, finding answers to relevant questions, sharing best practice and agree on future plans.

You are invited to watch the recording of the centenary conference “21st Century Libraries: Traditions and Innovations” on the National Library’s YouTube Channel

See more information on the National Libraries web portal: konferencijos.lnb.lt/lnb100/