The 58th National Library Conference and Exhibition: #Meta-Library, Connect with the New World

  • Department International Cooperation and PR Team
  • Registration Date 2021-12-30
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The 58th National Library Conference and Exhibition: #Meta-Library, Connect with the New World

The 58th National Library Conference and Exhibition was broadcast live from October 13 to 15. Like last year, the event was held in a virtual space to accommodate the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic. Under the theme of “#Meta-Library, Connect with the New World,” over 3,000 people, including librarians, members of library associations, professors and students in library and information sciences, and people involved in the special exhibition, participated in online live broadcast to discuss cultural changes and future directions of the library field. This event included some 40 seminars, workshops, and forums on topics relevant to practices in the field, and also a presentation of domestic and international policies and advanced technologies related to library activities.

Photo 1. The poster for the 58th National Library Conference and Exhibition (Source: The Korean Library Association)

Hosted by the Korean Library Association, the National Library Conference is the largest annual event for the library community in South Korea. It was introduced in 1962 in an effort to enhance the roles of libraries as key organizations promoting knowledge, information, education, and culture. It is also intended to promote a culture of library use and to strengthen the professional capacity of librarians. Recently renamed the National Library Conference and Exhibition, this year’s event included an exhibition using a metaverse platform.

#Meta-Library, Connect with the New World

The theme for this year’s conference was selected through an open competition. The winner was a slogan presented by the Gumi City Bonggok Library that which reflects the role of libraries in providing virtual services amidst the acceleration of non-contact lifestyles driven by the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic.

The most notable aspect of this year’s Conference was the use of metaverse platforms to host the opening ceremony, best library award ceremony, and the exhibition. Both the opening ceremony and the ceremony for the 2021 Best Library Awards were held using the metaverse platform Engage to provide a virtual reality experience for library field.

This year the National Library Conference was renamed the National Library Conference and Exhibition. The purpose of this change was to transform the previously passive viewing-oriented exhibition into a more workshop-oriented space designed to promote learning and participation. At this year’s exhibition, library professionals from across the country had an opportunity to experience three metaverse platforms (Gather Town, Zepeto, and Engage) and interact in real-time in the virtual space. For many librarians, it was their first engagement with metaverse platforms.

The opening ceremony using a metaverse environment and a real-time online broadcast

The opening ceremony of the 58th National Library Association and Exhibition was held at 2 pm on October 13 at the International Conference Hall at the National Library of Korea with a minimum number of people physically present due to the Covid-19 pandemic. It was broadcast live through the official National Library Conference and Exhibition website and the Korean Library Association’s YouTube channel. The metaverse version was broadcast with a separate recording. The ceremony was attended by Nam Young-jun, President of the Korean Library Association; Shin Ki-nam, Chair of the Presidential Committee on Library and Information Policy; Hwang Hee, Minister of Culture, Sports and Tourism; and Suh Hye Ran, CEO of the National Library of Korea. Recorded congratulatory messages were sent by the heads of renowned international library organizations, including Barbara Lison, President of the International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions; Patricia Wong, President of the American Library Association; Uematsu Sadao, President of the Japan Library Association; and Chen Ying, Vice Chairman of the Library Society of China.

The Best Library Award Ceremony

As part of the event, a ceremony was held to give awards to libraries selected for their performance in the evaluations of libraries around the country, including public, school, military, prison, and special libraries. Two libraries received a Presidential Award; five libraries were granted a Prime Minister’s Award; six libraries took home an Award from the Vice Prime Minister and Education Minister; 33 libraries were given an Award from the Minister of Culture, Sports and Tourism; and seven libraries received a Special Award from the Chair of the Presidential Committee on Library and Information Policy. The winners were awarded both prizes and certification plaques.

The Presidential Awards went to the Eunpyeong-gu Public Library and Mokpo Jeil Girls’ High School Library. The Eunpyeong-gu Public Library was recognized for its efforts to expand services for the underprivileged and to reduce the knowledge and information gap by establishing an online book recommendation platform as part of its pandemic response and for improving the accessibility of its library infrastructure. The Mokpo Jeil Girls’ High School Library integrated library activities into the school’s overall curriculum, as demonstrated by its Reading Marathon and Integrated Reading and Essay Program, in an effort to expand the perspectives and creative potential of students.

Best libraries are selected through quantitative evaluations, field inspections, and the deliberations of the Library Operation Evaluation Committee. A total of 2,242 public, school, special, military, and prison libraries participated in the competition this year. The ceaseless efforts of so many libraries to sustain their services despite the challenges of the pandemic were particularly notable this year.

Photo 12. President of the Korean Library Association Nam Young-jun announces the host province for the 60th National Library Conference and Exhibition (Source: The Korean Library Association)

The 59th National Library Conference and Exhibition will be held in 2022 in Changwon, Gyeongsangnam-do in recognition of Changwon being upgraded to Special City status in January 2022. The 60th National Library Conference and Exhibition is scheduled to be held October 18 through 20, 2023 at the Jeju International Convention Center in Jeju Special Self-government Province.

Photo 13. An image from the 58th National Library Conference and Exhibition (Source: The Korean Library Association)

Facebook, the world’s biggest largest network service company, recently changed its name to Meta. Founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg announced the company’s plan to expand its metaverse businesses and his hope that people will “see us as a metaverse company” in five years.

In this light, the global library community is paying increasing attention to the metaverse concept. The introduction of a metaverse to this year’s National Library Conference and Exhibition reflects the South Korean library community’s intentions to respond to this trend in a timely manner.



Written by Choi Yeon-su, International Cooperation and Public Relations Team, National Library of Korea

Photos by the Korean Library Association

The 58th National Library Conference and Exhibition: http://conference.kla.kr/

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