It has been our pleasure to co-chair the Fourth Conference on Library and Information Services in Astronomy. In July 2002, this successful conference took place in Prague, with thanks to the kind and efficient work of the Local Organizing Committee.
Astronomy is a discipline with very strong international relations, and the four LISA meetings have achieved a degree of internationalization second only to the International Astronomical Union's General Assembly. Librarians gather from many corners of the world in order to exchange information on their experiences, duties and the very different contexts in which they work. Thus, the remarkable achievement of this LISA conference series is its ability to create a worldwide dialogue for information professionals so they may continue to learn and to support one another based on a common framework.
Several oral presentations at the conference highlighted the rapid evolution of librarians' tasks and work environments. Some of the predominant themes included: changes in librarians' roles, networking among librarians and resources, an overview of Virtual Observatory projects, the evolving models of electronic publications, and the role of librarians in the preservation and history of astronomy. The last session addressed new tools and perspectives in bibliometrics and knowledge discovery.
The three panels, Physical vs. Electronic Libraries, Developing Countries, and Astronomy Users, were also excellent opportunities to discuss various aspects of librarians' tasks and concerns. The importance of the posters was clearly evident in that there was a doubling in the number of posters presented at LISA III. The papers illustrated a wide diversity of interests, with an equally varied number of participants. The electronic library will certainly be a major topic for the next meeting.
Brenda Corbin presented an enlightening conclusion, showing the roots and history of the LISA meetings.
And who could forget the incredible efforts of the Local Organizing Committee? The welcome reception on Tuesday gave us our first indication of the treasures that awaited us during our stay. None of us will ever forget the lovely concert in the Aula Magna or the Thursday night conference dinner, prefaced with champagne and breathtaking vistas of the Prague skyline at dusk.
The LISA meetings have relied on the dedicated work of a group of librarians from many countries, and they deserve many thanks for their long-term commitment. We all long for the next meeting!
Liz Bryson and Françoise Genova
© Copyright 2003 U.S. Naval Observatory, Washington, DC, USA