CitationDownload as .RIS
Emerald Group Publishing Limited
Copyright © 2003, MCB UP Limited
Central Asia 2002 International Library Conference, in Bukhara Uzbekistan
An international library conference – Central Asia 2002 – with the theme "Internet and libraries: information resources in science, culture, education and business", was held on Bukhara, Uzbekistan in October 14-18, 2002. The conference was organized by the Library Association of Uzbekistan and sponsored by the Open Society Institute Assistance Foundation together with a number of government ministries, including the Ministry of Cultural Affairs, Ministry of Higher and Secondary Specialized Education and Ministry of Public Education.
The international conference, which was held in conjunction with the annual meeting of the Uzbekistan Library Association, attracted approximately 250 participants, including about 50 foreign nationals from such countries as the UK, Germany, the USA, Israel, Armenia and a large delegation from Russia. The official conference languages were Uzbek, English, and Russian, and the atmosphere was stimulating and lively.
The stated overall aims of the conference were to:
promote an effective exchange of information regarding the creation of library systems, the use of Internet and the development of electronic information resources for science, education, culture and business in libraries;
organize and exploit training centers for the teaching of new information technologies;
create virtual libraries and corporate networks; and
improve and increase activities of libraries regarding the wider use of the Internet and electronic databases by providing open access to existing and newly created information resources.
The four-day conference had simultaneous sessions to accommodate the interests of all the participants. "Automated library-information systems", "Librarianship marketing and management", and "New information technologies" were some of the overall topics.
The session on "National electronic information resources" featured speakers from Russia, the UK, Germany, the USA and Israel. Some of the papers discussed were: "Business Internet resources and databases in American academic libraries", given by R. Womack from the USA; "How to satisfy the needs of the academic users with decreasing budgets – e-journals and beyond", by Oliver Obst of Germany; and "Electronic databases in Israeli libraries", by Carol Glatt of Jerusalem, Israel. Due to technical difficulties, there were problems with translating the remarks of the English language presentations. Fortunately, Rebecca Larkin of ProQuest from the UK, who is fluent in English and Russian, offered her services so that the audience could fully benefit from the lectures given in English.
The Round Table sessions, which were primarily for the Uzbek librarians, concentrated on the theme of library co-operation. One session was devoted to library cooperation among the Central Asia Republics of Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Kazakstan, Kyrgyzstan, and Turkmenistan. Another session featured the role of library associations in effecting institutional changes on both regional and national levels. Another session focused on the practical aspect of library and electronic resources sharing – speakers shared their work experiences in the creation and use of electronic resources in Uzbekistan. The level of sophistication among the Uzbek librarians is impressive.
The conference had a full social agenda – which was well-planned and well-executed. Bukhara, located on an oasis on the Zerafshan River has more than 140 architectural monuments. Old Bukhara is a "town museum" dating back to the Middle Ages. The late afternoon program on the first day of the conference was a tour of the outstanding architectural monuments of Bukhara: the Ark Fortress (now a museum); the majestic, spectacular Kalyan complex, built in the twelfth century, with its mosque, madrassah and minaret – one of the tallest structures in Central Asia. All are in need of more structural restoration as these places only give a hint of their former glory. Also on the schedule was the summer palace of the Emir – in use until 1924. Returning to the hotel at 6:50p.m., we were told to meet at 7p.m. for transport to our dinner locale! It was held in the open air courtyard of the Nadir Devan Begi Madrassah (sixteenth century) – a very dramatic setting. Sitting at tables placed around the sides and the center of the courtyard, we were treated to a constant flow of entertainers – native dancers, musicians, singers – all very colorful and exotic.
Afternoons of subsequent days were also devoted to touring. There was a bus tour to a well-known pilgrimage site on the outskirts of Bukhara – the mausoleum of the scientist and philosopher, Nakshbandi. And there was a walking tour of the old city with its charming nooks and alleys where traditional handicrafts are still practiced – and there are many madrassahs and mosques, including the Chor-Bakr minarets from the sixteenth century. Adelina Nazarova, assistant to the Executive Director of Uzbekistan Library Association, Dr Marat Rakhmatullaev, was instrumental in attending to all the myriad details so that the conference ran smoothly (http://ula.uzsci.net).
From my perspective, as a US medical librarian, now living in Israel, the most fascinating aspect of the conference was the interchange of ideas between librarians from the East (Central Asia Republics, Russia, etc.) and the West (England, Germany, Israel, USA, etc.) and the realization that the library world is indeed a "global village" – with shared methodology, ideology, and problems.
Rivkah Frank(Rivkahfrank@hotmail.com) is Director, Medwrite Services, Jerusalem, Israel.