In an announcement just before the ALA annual conference that caught almost everyone off guard, IFLA issued a press release stating that it would not hold its 2010 World Library & Information Congress (WLIC) in Brisbane, Australia, as announced three years ago. In a second press release, IFLA announced the new location of the annual meeting as Goteborg, Sweden. In an IFLA briefing during the ALA conference, IFLA president Claudia Lux and president-elect Ellen Tise explained that the move was due to financial considerations. In this economy, IFLA was afraid it would lose money if the congress was held in Australia. Apparently, the Australian government is coming forward with promised funding.
It seemed to many in the international community that the announcement was precipitous and the reasons given not sufficient. Librarians in the Asian and Pacific regions were particularly upset, since the idea has been to move WLIC around the world. This year it will be Europe (Milan, Italy). Last year it was in North America (Quebec City, Canada), the year before that in Africa (Durban, South Africa), and in 2006 the venue was Asia (Seoul, South Korea). The move to Goteborg puts WLIC in Europe two years in a row. In 2011, WLIC is scheduled to be in Puerto Rico. Others likely to feel the fallout from the drastic geographic shift are those standing committees of IFLA that have contracted to have satellite events (either pre-congress or post-congress seminars and conferences) near the Australian venue. Further, the International Association of School Librarianship usually holds its annual conference geographically near IFLA’s location. In 2010, IASL will be in Brisbane from 27 September to 1 October (that’s about a month after the WLIC).
De Gruyter Publisher announced it will establish a grant fund to support young professionals from the Pacific region attending the 2010 congress, "to enable them to have the same chance to go to Goteborg for the IFLA Congress as they would have had in Brisbane. " It’s a nice gesture and one I hope other information industry companies will emulate, but it’s not a substitute for holding the conference in Brisbane. I confess I was looking forward to being in Brisbane. I like Goteborg, but I’ve been there before. I’ve never been to Brisbane.