The Greek language has several words for love: agápe, éros, philia, and storge, all with various meanings. “Library Love Stories,” a session sponsored by International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions’ (IFLA) New Professionals Special Interest Group (NPSIG) and the Management and Marketing Section, explored this global theme and shared stories of love in libraries at the World Library and Information Congress 2019 in Athens, Greece, August 28.
Antoine Torrens-Montebello, director of Compiègne City Libraries in France and outgoing chair of NPSIG, and Anya Feltreuter, director of Mjölby (Sweden) Public Library, comoderated the session, which opened with the library-set music video of Tears for Fears’ song “Head Over Heels.” Catharina Isberg, library director at Helsingborg (Sweden) City Library, emphasized the power of love to unite people to combat challenges that perpetuate disunity, such as fake news.
Robert Knight, vice president of the Australian Library and Information Association, introduced activities and resources that celebrated Library Lovers’ Day (#LibraryLoversDay and #LibraryLoveStories), a national campaign and contest that promoted users’ love for their libraries and encouraged them to share their stories and poems across Australia. This public campaign incorporated advocacy work that highlighted communities’ passion in supporting their libraries.
Noraini Abd Rahman, faculty of information management at Universiti Teknologi MARA in Shah Alam, Malaysia, shared her research on how the library could be directly or indirectly connected to love stories in students’ campus life. Based on qualitative analysis of sources from film scripts and novels, including interviews with directors and writers, Rahman found key themes in love story scenes that focus on the library.
Amandine Wallon, Paris Dauphine University Library, presented a short podcast in which French librarians shared their encounters or love stories with patrons. These interactions showcased the various reflections and exchanges that interviewees had about love from the French perspective.
Mandiaye Niaye, librarian from Cheikh Anta Diop University in Dakar, Senegal, shared a case study on the experiences and perceptions of love among librarians and users in West Africa; unfortunately, these encounters can also lead to stalking and harassment. Niaye found that users tend to be more comfortable sharing their feelings to librarians because librarians tend to reciprocate quickly and openly with their own feelings.
Parisa Pasyar, a doctoral candidate at the National Library and Archives in Iran, presented on the meaning of love among adolescents in Tehran’s Ekbatan Cultural Center through an analysis of the 6th-century Persian love poems Leyli and Majnun by Nezami Ganjavi. Pasyar found common themes such as self-sacrifice, commitment, and intimacy and discovered high levels of teenagers’ acknowledgement of different categories of love.
In the Q&A portion, Andrew Finegan, Trove Outreach Officer at National Library of Australia, moderated a discussion of topics such as boundaries, relationships, management, and issues of harassment in the library workplace were discussed from global perspectives. Attendees were also encouraged to share their own library love stories on stage. The personal love stories and experiences of library workers from Germany, Poland, Colombia, Serbia, and Bosnia and Herzegovina filled the room as the session closed.
Updated Sept. 3, 2019.