Photo Essay: Were You in Moscow in ’91?

August 3, 2010

For many years after the 1991 conference of the International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions in Moscow, longtime IFLA-goers who witnessed the coup d’etat that broke out there in the middle of the meeting would greet one another with memories of that historic event. The coup marked the beginning of the end for communism in the Soviet Union. Many had not only witnessed the coup but had been caught up in it, helping Russian librarians distribute information, knocking down statues of Lenin, and talking with soldiers atop the tanks surrounding the Russian parliament.

While most IFLA conferences could not deliver anything as spectacular as a coup d’etat, there are dramatic moments to remember from many—visits from royalty, political intrigue, and splendid cultural venues. Can you name the location and the events depicted in these photos?

IFLA 2010 meets in Gothenburg, Sweden, August 10-15.  Follow the hashtag #IFLA2010.

Paris, 1989: The Pyramid at the Louvre remains arguably the most spectacular venue ever to host an all-conference reception.
Stockholm, 1990: Sweden’s King Carl XVI Gustaf, royal patron of the conference, arrives for the opening session.
Moscow, 1991: Defenders of the Russian parliament resist the coup d’etat with barricades erected to prevent a military takeover of the building. The IFLA conference was taking place at the same time, just two blocks away.
New Delhi, 1992: Delegates celebrated the centennial of India’s library science giant S. R. Ranganathan with visits to the Taj Mahal.
Barcelona, 1993: The architecturally rich Poble Espanyol hosted 3,500 delegates in an open square built for the 1929 International Exposition.
Havana, 1994: Around the world, eyes focused on Cuba, while IFLA-goers, including then-president Robert Wedgeworth, walking the beautiful Malecón watched desperate Cubans set out in make-shift rafts to cross 90 dangerous miles of the Atlantic to reach Florida.
Istanbul, 1995: The splendid Ciragan Palace was the site of a glamorous reception looking out on the Bosporus, while free expression rose to the top of the professional agenda.
Beijing, 1996: The dense traffic in the center of the city was brought to a stop to permit 70 buses loaded with IFLA delegates to pass, on their way to performances like this one, hosted by China’s Ministry of Culture.
Copenhagen, 1997: Danish librarians brought 141 colleagues from economically underdeveloped nations to their country through DANIDA, a government granting agency.
Amsterdam, 1998: Rembrandt’s famous painting Night Watch was brought to life on the opening session stage.
Bangkok, 1999: Thai Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn presses “the royal button on the royal pillow” to officially open the conference.
Jerusalem, 2000: Delegates visit Masada, the ancient Jewish stronghold, while the politically divided nature of the host city resulted in divided political camps, ending in a boycott of the conference by Islamic countries.
Boston, 2001: Publisher Klaus Saur of Germany and then–IFLA President Christine Deschamps of France climb the stairs of the Old State House.
Berlin, 2003: One of the worst heat waves on record couldn’t keep the IFLA board members away from a reception at the Berliner Rathaus, or town hall.
Buenos Aires, 2004: Delegates waited for the opening session outside the historic Colon Theater, where street dancers could be spotted doing the tango.Buenos Aires, 2004: Delegates waited for the opening session outside the historic Colon Theater, where street dancers could be spotted doing the tango.
Oslo, 2005: Members of IFLA’s Management and Marketing Section stopped for a photo on their way through the mountains from Bergen.
Seoul, 2006: Korean Library Association President Han Sang-wan gets prepped for local media, which covered the conference with gusto.
Durban, 2007: Renowned South African storyteller Gcina Mhlophe emcees the opening session.
Quebec, 2008: Native American dancers perform at the opening session in Canada.
Milan, 2009: IFLA-goers view sketches by Leonardo da Vinci in the spectacular shopping center Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II.



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