MELCom International tries to achieve its aims in an atmosphere that is both professional and informal. The main focus of activities is the annual conference, which serves as a platform for the exchange of ideas and experiences.
Founding and development of MELCom International
In its earliest form MELCom was founded in the UK, in the late 1960s. International contacts led to a joint conference with French colleagues in Aix-en-Provence, France, in 1979, the first of many to follow. After a second conference held outside the UK in 1981 (Staatsbibliothék zu Berlin), it was clear that organizing a yearly international conference was useful and feasible. The advantages were evident: MELCom provided a wider exchange of ideas on librarianship and book research in a friendly and professional environment, combined with informal activities and scholarly tourism. The scope of MELCom International’s activities was so diversified that it seemed sensible to bring the conferences under a different organization : Today, MELCom International functions independently but side by side with MELCom UK. From 1993 onwards MELCom International has its own Constitution, which provides the organization with a legal framework.
After the Aix-en-Provence (1979) and Berlin (1981) conferences, the venues have been in various cities and institutions in Europe and in the Middle East. Programs of some recent MELCom International conferences are reproduced on this website.
Audiences at MELCom International Conferences
The audience of the yearly international conference consist of three categories of professionals: MELCom International’s hard core of friends and colleagues, the incidental attendees and the local librarians. Time and again this has proved to be a profitable mix. For the local librarians of several countries, the MELCom International conference is usually the first time that they get together in an international context. Participants include documentalists, scholarly researchers, small-institute librarians or tenured curators of Oriental collections in national or university libraries, in Europe, the Middle East and North Africa and beyond, i.e. North America, Asia and Australia. Last but not least, booksellers and providers of other library material are also regular participants of MELCom International’s annual conferences, where they share cooperation issues and projects with their customers.
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MELCom International has a Scientific committee that includes the current Board members and the convener(s) of the specific annual conference. While these persons are subject to change, as of 2016, the committee has three permenant members who are Drs. Helga Rebhan, Geoffrey Roper and Arnoud Vrolijk.