Reflections of Attendees:
WESS European Conference 2004

WESS Newsletter
Fall 2004
Vol. 28, no. 1

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The Bibliothèque nationale de France, also known as the Bibliothèque François Mitterrand, was the first of three venues for the WESS (West European Studies Section) Conference, arranged by the Association of College and Research Libraries of the American Library Association. I had never visited the BnF, and nor had most of the U.S. and Canadian participants, but we all found it most impressive: a huge rectangular building, with several reading, exhibition and lecture rooms, book storage in four big towers and below ground, and numerous trees planted in the centre. Several European librarians took part, many of whom were from the U.K. and representatives of FSLG, GSLG and ACLAIIR; the main theme was migration (in literature, art and publishing, as reflected in libraries in their collections, both printed and electronic). The other two locations were the Salon du livre (the French Book Fair, where we had talks and discussions with some publishers and authors), and a conference centre in the rue du Havre. Most of those taking part in the conference were subject specialists, but those who addressed the delegates were publishers, suppliers, authors and academics in addition to librarians. The actual subject matter tended mainly to revolve around matters of specifically French or French-speaking and German/Austrian interest, although Italian and Spanish received attention too. Those in the field of libraries and publishing spoke in different ways on the migration of media, publications or collections to new environments: for example, we heard about the move from Germany to England in 1933 of the library of Aby Warburg, which still forms the core of the Warburg Institute Library in London (part of London University, and one of the most important sources for the study of the revival of the classics in the Renaissance, and for the history and culture of that period). Barbara Casalini spoke about another form of migration, the Italian e-book project, Editoria Italiana Online. Those in academic research spoke on the evidence and effects of migration on the work of certain writers and on the demographic make-up of some countries, and for me one of the particularly interesting aspects was the discussion at several points of the conference about new French writers of Arab (North African) origin and from elsewhere. This movement also has a growing number of parallels in contemporary writing in Italy (a country where emigration used to be a way of life, but where in recent years immigration has become common); it was a theme echoed by some of the writers themselves, their publishers, academics pursuing research, and librarians developing collections.

William Pine-Coffin
University of Warwick Library

From a European vendor's perspective I experienced the Paris conference as a well-organized event enabling me to meet a range of interesting people, listen to enthusiastic presentations and have stimulating discussions in a pleasant informal atmosphere.

Willem-Jan Hooijmans
Nedbook International Booksellers/Subscription Agents Amsterdam; The Netherlands

I thoroughly enjoyed the conference and Paris was as wonderful as ever. The elongated lunch periods (1.5 - 2 hours) were more than a nod to cultural differences - they actively encouraged unhurried discussions. It was a splendid opportunity to meet with friends. -- The one (minor) criticism that I have is that it is better for a conference to have a central base - this certainly helps exhibitors.

William Pidduck; Publisher
Adam Matthew Publications

I was one of 12 delegates from the United Kingdom most of them members of the UK-based West European Studies Library Groups. The Conference was a great opportunity to meet colleagues from Canada and the United States and to forge closer links between WESS and the UK Groups. As a French specialist I was disappointed that there were so few colleagues from France (and indeed the rest of Europe) present, but was very interested to learn about the proposed French-American Resources Project presented by Tom Kilton. Finally, on behalf of the French Studies Library Group, I would like to thank the Conference Planning Committee and its Chair, Jeffry Larson, for the huge amount of work that they put in to organise this important Conference and I very much look forward to attending the next WESS European Conference.

Teresa Vernon
Chair, French Studies Library Group
Curator, French Collections
The British Library

It was a pleasure and an honour to work with the Wess group to help organise our international meeting. It was really special to see so many of our group in Paris and to get a sense of the focus and importance of this group. The meeting was a great opportunity for all of us to meet colleagues from throughout Europe and I sincerely hope that we will be able to organise a similar meeting in the not too distant future.

Patricia O'Loughlin
Erasmus Booksellers

Apart from the inspiring papers on migrations and libraries I most vividly remember the inspiring people: multilingual and subversive librarians.

Tamara Pianos
Vascoda Office
National Library of Science and Technology (TIB)
and University Library Hannover

What I remember most about the Paris "Migrations" Conference, beyond the many interesting papers which were presented, is the solid feeling of extreme care behind the organization of the conference and the evening events. Once again, the usual and very special WESS atmosphere made the Paris "Migrations" conference an event I'm really happy to have come to.

Ho un bellissimo ricordo del convegno "Migrations". I contributi tutti molto interessanti, le serate deliziose in una Parigi sontuosa, il senso che tutto era stato organizzato con estrema cura e, soprattutto, quell'atmosfera molto speciale che io chiamo "atmosfera WESS".

Barbara Casalini
Casalini Libri

Editor: Sarah G. Wenzel

Association of College & Research Libraries
©American Library Association

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