The National Library of Belarus hosted sessions, round tables, and master classes of the 8th International Congress "The Library as a Phenomenon of Culture" for over two days. The participants discussed pressing issues in the library field related to defining the mission of libraries, their role and place in modern society in the context of the pandemic.
The first day was not only interesting for the plenary session presentations, but also for the discussions on key library issues that took place on the library's platforms.
On the second day of the congress, a section "Virtual Reading Room of the National Library of Belarus during the pandemic: information resources without borders" took place. Participants discussed the role of academic and public libraries in providing access to electronic information resources, their use in the context of the pandemic, new open access services and other topics.
The speakers of the section "Project work in libraries: new stimuli - new conditions" shared their views on the particularities of library and distance work during the pandemic and their experiences in conducting online events and projects. Presentations were made at the meeting of the scientific and practical collection "Local lore information resources of libraries: we create together on high-quality level" and the document "Guidelines for the management and preservation of the collections of the National Library of Belarus" (in Russian/Belarussian).
An interesting cultural event took place on 22 October – a slow reading "Reading Kupala together" with Yuri Cherny, Head of the Centre for the Study of Informatics at the Institute of Scientific Information for Social Sciences of the Russian Academy of Sciences. The participants of the meeting enjoyed reading the lyrical lines of the poem "She and I" by the classic of Belarusian literature, the People's Poet of Belarus.
The seminar "Implementation of the Marrakesh Treaty to Facilitate Access to Published Works for Persons who Are Blind, Visually Impaired, or Otherwise Print Disabled by the Republic of Belarus" was held at the National Library of Belarus as part of the International Congress. The main topics of discussion were the legal aspects of the Marrakesh Treaty application in the Republic of Belarus, cross-border exchange of documents in special formats through the Accessible Books Consortium (ABC) global book service, problems of serving visually impaired people in libraries in Belarus, etc.
Representatives of the World Intellectual Property Organisation, the National Intellectual Property Centre of the Republic of Belarus, the National Library of Belarus, the Accessible Books Consortium (ABC) Global Book Service, the non-profit organization Electronic Information for Libraries, as well as teachers of visually impaired students and staff from other libraries, took part in the seminar.
Summing up the results of the international congress, it is worth noting that leading specialists of libraries, archives, museums, publishing houses, educational, research institutions and organizations, manufacturers of software, hardware, information products and industrial equipment for libraries from Belarus, Bulgaria, Germany, Kazakhstan, Russia, Ukraine presented about 80 reports in online, offline and video formats. Their presentations touched on crucial aspects of the library field in the context of new challenges of the times and new opportunities and solutions
At the wrap-up session, participants discussed the results of their fruitful work on sharing experiences, finding new ideas and motivation in today's environment. All the speakers at the forum stressed that effective professional communication and close interaction play an important role in achieving success and that the library field needs modernization: library science, library practice, library human resources and library education alike.
The organizers of the 8th International Congress "The Library as a Phenomenon of Culture" are the Ministry of Culture of the Republic of Belarus and the National Library of Belarus.
We would like to thank the co-organizers, the National Centre for Intellectual Property of the Republic of Belarus and the Belarusian Library Association, for their assistance in organizing the Congress events.
Public Relations Department