The annual symposium BOBCATSSS, named for the cities of the university network that initiated it—Budapest, Oslo, Barcelona, Copenhagen, Amsterdam, Tampere, Stuttgart, Szombathely, and Sheffield—takes place under the auspices of EUCLID (European Association for Library & Information Education and Research) and was first held in 1993. Under the supervision of their professors, international LIS student teams plan and realize the content and the management of the symposium. They are responsible for every aspect of organizing the event—marketing, financing, logistics, managing the review process, and more.
The theme of BOBCATSSS 2019, held in Osijek, Croatia, Jan. 22–24, was Information and Technology Transforming Lives: Connection, Interaction, Innovation. The event’s partners were four European institutions: the University of Osijek, The Hague University of Applied Sciences in the Netherlands, Linnaeus University in Sweden, and Uppsala University in Sweden. View the program here.
The 209 participants at BOBCATSSS 2019 came from 22 countries. A total of 43 lectures, 20 posters, and six workshops were presented. The next BOBCATSSS symposium will be hosted by the University of Paris-Est Marne-la-Vallée together with University of Library Studies and Information Technologies in Bulgaria.
Becoming an iSchool
Invited speaker Koraljka Golub (Linnaeus University; photo at right) opened the symposium by describing the process the LIS department at her university underwent in 2016 and 2017 to become a university-wide transdisciplinary iSchool named the Information Institute (iInstitute). The iInstitute today encompasses 14 programs at undergraduate, graduate, and doctoral levels, of which six are introduced from truly transdisciplinary perspectives of the iField; four research centers; and one collaborative node comprising more than 200 IT companies.
Comparing Public Libraries
Addressing the role of public libraries in contemporary society and their technological, social, and cultural challenges, Frank Huysmans (University of Amsterdam)—in his presentation “Creating Public Libraries for the Future: How Comparing Library Systems Can Help”—argued that much can be learned from a comparative study of public library systems. He noted that these systems are to be understood as historically grown conglomerates of values, norms, functions, laws and regulations, and practices that shape the public library’s mission and services. By comparing library systems cross-nationally, we can learn how they differ and what these differences tell us about the underlying values, norms, etc., in various countries.
Facing a New Society
Milijana Micunovic (University of Osijek; photo at left) discussed how emerging technologies and economic metamorphosis impact our professional and private lives. She noted that in order to respond successfully to recent sociocultural evolution, solutions to the technological changes must involve good strategic planning, such as anticipating and preparing for the upcoming change, but also being proactive and introducing incentives that will accelerate innovation; inventing new social and economic models for a post-work society and economy; making a paradigm shift toward collaborative and participatory culture; and transforming a competitive information society into a cooperative information society. And it’s important to include governments and the public in the process—governments could slow down the pace of automation, or they could invest in R&D, and the public should be involved in decision making and should make greater commitments.
Micunovic also talked about the importance of innovating education and incentivizing lifelong learning so that we can develop a future workforce with a completely new set of skills and follow the guidelines of a good economy—wherein social and environmental benefits aren’t displaced by economic growth, and human dignity and freedom are integral parts of working conditions. This presentation was voted by symposium participants as the best paper presented at the conference.
Deregulating Librarianship in Poland
In their presentation, “Deregulation of the Librarian Profession in Poland: The Course and the Consequences,” Mariola Antczak and Zbigniew Gruszka (University of Lódz) discussed the most important changes introduced by the legal acts of deregulation of the LIS profession in Poland (2011–2018) and described how librarians reacted to this process. They presented results of their study—which was conducted with the help of in-depth interviews with professional librarians (managers of different types of libraries) and legal document analysis—whose aim was to assess the consequences of the deregulation process.
The Role of Public Libraries
Máté Tóth (National Széchényi Library) and Ragnar Audunson (Oslo Metropolitan University) presented “The Legitimacy of Public Library Services: Do the General Public and Librarians Agree?” They shared the results of their comparative study conducted in six European countries on the role of public libraries in contemporary society. Although differences among countries were not substantial, the study showed that the general public and professional librarians in all countries perceive the roles and outcomes of public libraries differently. The general public saw public libraries in light of their traditional roles as safekeepers of cultural heritage and providers of equal access to information and knowledge, while professional librarians saw public libraries foremost as arenas for debate and as meeting places.
Teenage Reading Habits in Japan
Ryoko Uragami (University of Tsukuba) co-presented “Development of Reading-Related Programs for Teenagers: A Survey of the Components of Teen Services in Japanese Public Libraries,” in which she noted Japanese teenagers’ lack of interest in reading due to long hours spent learning at school and in club activities as well as interest in other forms of entertainment. She also noted that the concept of teen services in Japanese public libraries is highly under-researched; this was the first study that comprehensively discussed this subject.
Therapy Animals in the Library
The symposium’s winning poster was “Animals in the Library: The Benefits of Bringing Them at the Library” by Sònia Camarasa Sola, Robert Mokhtari Marmol, and Laura Garcia Piqué (University of Barcelona). They studied different library programs involving pets—cats and dogs—for therapeutic purposes and proposed guidelines for creating a pet-friendly library. Their prize was a 1-year free membership in the Association for Information Science and Technology (ASIS&T).
Smart Homes and Privacy Workshop
“Say Goodbye to Your Privacy? A Workshop on Online Privacy in Smart Homes and How to Prevent Your Data From Being Leaked,” hosted by Núria Toneu Llobet (University of Barcelona), Joost Verberne (Hanze University of Applied Sciences), Wei Jen Chou (Providence University), and Chia Ling Lee (National Central University), was selected as the symposium’s best workshop. Participants had an opportunity to interact with several smart home devices and take part in an experiment in which they experienced the loss of privacy. Then they were introduced to possible solutions for and improvements to the prevention of privacy violations, and they learned how to cope with possible privacy threats in the Internet of Things world.
Photos by Sanjica Faletar Tanackovic