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A 1-year Qualitative Analysis of Libraries in Southeast Asia: Commonalities, Challenges, & Opportunities for Regional Cooperation John Hickok, M.L.I.S.,

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Presentation on theme: "A 1-year Qualitative Analysis of Libraries in Southeast Asia: Commonalities, Challenges, & Opportunities for Regional Cooperation John Hickok, M.L.I.S.,"— Presentation transcript:

1 A 1-year Qualitative Analysis of Libraries in Southeast Asia: Commonalities, Challenges, & Opportunities for Regional Cooperation John Hickok, M.L.I.S., M.A. Librarian / Instructor California State University, Fullerton, USA

2 Introduction Project: 1-year travel grant to analyze academic libraries of Southeast Asia (& later East Asia) Project: 1-year travel grant to analyze academic libraries of Southeast Asia (& later East Asia) Funding: California State University system, due to large numbers of Asian students studying in California Funding: California State University system, due to large numbers of Asian students studying in California

3 Researcher background: Researcher background: Librarian / Instructor of English-as-a-Second Language, to international students. Librarian / Instructor of English-as-a-Second Language, to international students. California State University, Fullerton campus, California State University, Fullerton campus, 1997-

4 Findings: Common characteristics, strengths, and challenges noted in 4 areas: Findings: Common characteristics, strengths, and challenges noted in 4 areas: 1) Services (Ref, User Ed, Circ, ILL, etc.) 1) Services (Ref, User Ed, Circ, ILL, etc.) 2) Technology (automation, Web presence, etc.) 2) Technology (automation, Web presence, etc.) 3) Staffing & Budget 3) Staffing & Budget 4) Opportunities 4) Opportunities

5 Important to note: Important to note: Detailed attention has been given to avoid making over-generalizations. While common trends & circumstances have indeed been identified, they are by no means universal at all libraries in each country. Detailed attention has been given to avoid making over-generalizations. While common trends & circumstances have indeed been identified, they are by no means universal at all libraries in each country.

6 Indonesia Common characteristics/strengths: Most academic libraries either have their online catalog Web accessible or are in the planning process to do so. Most academic libraries either have their online catalog Web accessible or are in the planning process to do so. There is a common trend/commitment of improving library software systems—such as the catalog or circulation software There is a common trend/commitment of improving library software systems—such as the catalog or circulation software Innovations in services: most often due to proactive efforts of library directors (rising above the “status quo”, even with challenges like limited budgets) Innovations in services: most often due to proactive efforts of library directors (rising above the “status quo”, even with challenges like limited budgets)

7 Common challenges: A nonprofessional image of librarians. Librarians encounter a perception they are merely “clerks” or “workers.” A nonprofessional image of librarians. Librarians encounter a perception they are merely “clerks” or “workers.” The prevalence of faculty/department libraries, with their own, separate catalogs (un-networked). The prevalence of faculty/department libraries, with their own, separate catalogs (un-networked). Limited user education. Yes, basic orientations are offered, but in-depth training sessions are not as common. Limited user education. Yes, basic orientations are offered, but in-depth training sessions are not as common. The nature of Indonesian education: mostly memorization/ exams…little independent research until postgraduate level. The nature of Indonesian education: mostly memorization/ exams…little independent research until postgraduate level. Low library budgets. Low library budgets.

8 Opportunities Nonprofessional librarian image + user education. By increasing/improving one (user education), the other (librarian image) automatically increases/improves, as well. Nonprofessional librarian image + user education. By increasing/improving one (user education), the other (librarian image) automatically increases/improves, as well. Faculty/Department libraries + low budgets. Making a strong case to fully link/integrate all libraries, to keep competitive among other tech-driven universities, can result in increased publicity, and therefore, funding. Faculty/Department libraries + low budgets. Making a strong case to fully link/integrate all libraries, to keep competitive among other tech-driven universities, can result in increased publicity, and therefore, funding.

9 Model: USU university, Medan Sumatra. Here, the library director desired plastic covers for current periodicals. When the price of “official” library covers was cost prohibitive, he contacted local plexiglass manufacturers and bought the raw material (to assemble in the library) at a fraction of the cost. Model: USU university, Medan Sumatra. Here, the library director desired plastic covers for current periodicals. When the price of “official” library covers was cost prohibitive, he contacted local plexiglass manufacturers and bought the raw material (to assemble in the library) at a fraction of the cost.

10 Philippines Common characteristics/strengths: A strong commitment to automation & technology. Nearly all academic libraries have their online catalog Web accessible or are in the planning process to do so. A strong commitment to automation & technology. Nearly all academic libraries have their online catalog Web accessible or are in the planning process to do so. A strong commitment to reference service. Whether at a single reference desk or at multiple service points, librarians are always available for assistance. A strong commitment to reference service. Whether at a single reference desk or at multiple service points, librarians are always available for assistance. Innovations in services—most often due to the proactive efforts of the library director (rising above the “status quo”, even with challenges like limited budgets) Innovations in services—most often due to the proactive efforts of the library director (rising above the “status quo”, even with challenges like limited budgets)

11 Common challenges: Philippine student culture: less interest in reading & prevalence of “borrowing other classmates’ work” instead of researching information independently. Philippine student culture: less interest in reading & prevalence of “borrowing other classmates’ work” instead of researching information independently. Less continual user education. Orientations or library components in university courses do exist, but continuing library education (workshops, sessions for 2nd-4th year students) are less common. Less continual user education. Orientations or library components in university courses do exist, but continuing library education (workshops, sessions for 2nd-4th year students) are less common. Subject-specialization endeavors not always maximized. Some libraries do create subject-based endeavors (e.g., Pathfinders), but many others do not, leaving students to hunt on their own. Subject-specialization endeavors not always maximized. Some libraries do create subject-based endeavors (e.g., Pathfinders), but many others do not, leaving students to hunt on their own.

12 Opportunities: Student culture + user education. By increasing/improving one (user education), the other (student culture toward reading/research) automatically increases/improves, as well. Student culture + user education. By increasing/improving one (user education), the other (student culture toward reading/research) automatically increases/improves, as well. Subject specialization endeavors. With databases/online catalogs/search engines being able to quickly generate custom lists, and Web guides not incurring paper/printing costs, this is achievable. Subject specialization endeavors. With databases/online catalogs/search engines being able to quickly generate custom lists, and Web guides not incurring paper/printing costs, this is achievable.

13 Model: De La Salle & Centro Escolar universities creating “Pathfinder” subject brochures. These are lists of core books, journals, Web sites, etc. relating to a particular major. Model: De La Salle & Centro Escolar universities creating “Pathfinder” subject brochures. These are lists of core books, journals, Web sites, etc. relating to a particular major.

14 Singapore Common characteristics/strengths: A very strong commitment to automation & technology (advanced online catalogs, databases, circ software, etc.) & collection development (acquisitions/cataloging teams) A very strong commitment to automation & technology (advanced online catalogs, databases, circ software, etc.) & collection development (acquisitions/cataloging teams) Advanced reference service: extended hours, professional staffing, accessible Ref materials Advanced reference service: extended hours, professional staffing, accessible Ref materials A commitment to User Education. While the approaches varied between the different libraries, there was a commitment to the importance of offering this. A commitment to User Education. While the approaches varied between the different libraries, there was a commitment to the importance of offering this.

15 Common challenges: A lack of Library-skill education at the elementary/secondary level (despite well-developed public libraries). A lack of Library-skill education at the elementary/secondary level (despite well-developed public libraries). A need for more proactive and continual Library User Education. While orientations/basic training sessions do exist, there are problems: not mandatory, not universal, not perceived as important., and not always continuing beyond year 1. A need for more proactive and continual Library User Education. While orientations/basic training sessions do exist, there are problems: not mandatory, not universal, not perceived as important., and not always continuing beyond year 1. An overemphasis on technology, without the human component. (i.e., just having computers and databases, but no guides/training on how to use them). An overemphasis on technology, without the human component. (i.e., just having computers and databases, but no guides/training on how to use them).

16 Opportunities: Advancing the perception of the academic librarian from “facility staff” to “instructional partner” via Library User Education. As librarians teach training sessions more often, this will result. Advancing the perception of the academic librarian from “facility staff” to “instructional partner” via Library User Education. As librarians teach training sessions more often, this will result. Using new ways to combine the human element with technology, in the library. And example would be including human narration in Web tutorials/tours. Using new ways to combine the human element with technology, in the library. And example would be including human narration in Web tutorials/tours.

17 Model: National University of Singapore’s “LION” online library tutorials: many, in multiple formats, from PowerPoint to Macromedia Flash animation. Model: National University of Singapore’s “LION” online library tutorials: many, in multiple formats, from PowerPoint to Macromedia Flash animation.

18 Malaysia Common characteristics/strengths: A very strong commitment to automation & technology (advanced online catalogs, databases, circ software, etc.) & collection development (acquisitions/cataloging teams) A very strong commitment to automation & technology (advanced online catalogs, databases, circ software, etc.) & collection development (acquisitions/cataloging teams) Advanced reference service: extended hours, professional staffing, accessible Ref materials Advanced reference service: extended hours, professional staffing, accessible Ref materials A commitment to User Education. While the approaches varied between the different libraries, there was a commitment to the importance of offering this. A commitment to User Education. While the approaches varied between the different libraries, there was a commitment to the importance of offering this.

19 Common challenges: A lack of library-skill education at the pre-university level. A lack of library-skill education at the pre-university level. The perception by students (or even faculty or administrations) that computer competency is the same as information literacy (+over-reliance on technology without human training) The perception by students (or even faculty or administrations) that computer competency is the same as information literacy (+over-reliance on technology without human training) A need for more proactive and continual Library User Education. While orientations/basic training sessions do exist, there are problems: not mandatory, not universal, not perceived as important., and not always continuing beyond year 1. A need for more proactive and continual Library User Education. While orientations/basic training sessions do exist, there are problems: not mandatory, not universal, not perceived as important., and not always continuing beyond year 1.

20 Opportunities: Lobbying for mandatory, first-year library user education (whether as a separate course or a component in a course), with librarians included as the teachers/trainers. This would effectively address the first two challenges. Lobbying for mandatory, first-year library user education (whether as a separate course or a component in a course), with librarians included as the teachers/trainers. This would effectively address the first two challenges. Promoting continual user education sessions, throughout the year, to reach many more students. Both as sessions for individual professors’ classes, and as “free, drop-in workshops” offered by the library (and heavily marketed) throughout the year. Promoting continual user education sessions, throughout the year, to reach many more students. Both as sessions for individual professors’ classes, and as “free, drop-in workshops” offered by the library (and heavily marketed) throughout the year.

21 Model: University of Malaya’s required 1-credit “information skills” library course, mandatory for all first year undergraduates. Model: University of Malaya’s required 1-credit “information skills” library course, mandatory for all first year undergraduates.

22 Thailand Common characteristics/strengths: A strong commitment to automation & technology (online catalogs, databases, circ software, etc…plus the integration of branch (faculty) libraries into centralized online catalogs). A strong commitment to automation & technology (online catalogs, databases, circ software, etc…plus the integration of branch (faculty) libraries into centralized online catalogs). A strong commitment to collection development. A strong commitment to collection development. Widespread reference service….whether at a single reference desk or at multiple service points. Widespread reference service….whether at a single reference desk or at multiple service points. Innovations in services: most often due to proactive efforts of library directors (rising above the “status quo”, even with challenges like limited budgets) Innovations in services: most often due to proactive efforts of library directors (rising above the “status quo”, even with challenges like limited budgets)

23 Common challenges: Librarian subject-specialization not as widespread (i.e., Thai librarians majoring entirely in library science; no subject degree) Librarian subject-specialization not as widespread (i.e., Thai librarians majoring entirely in library science; no subject degree) Term limits and outside duties for library directors. Frequently, 2-year terms and teaching obligations. Term limits and outside duties for library directors. Frequently, 2-year terms and teaching obligations. A need for more continual Library User Education. A need for more continual Library User Education. The nature of Thai education: mostly memorization/exams…little independent research until postgraduate level. A student culture of easy “copy & pasting” from texts/friends instead of in-depth library resources. The nature of Thai education: mostly memorization/exams…little independent research until postgraduate level. A student culture of easy “copy & pasting” from texts/friends instead of in-depth library resources.

24 Opportunities: University libraries could initiate an “adopt a high school” project, as an outreach to providing library education to secondary students. The return-on- investment would be better prepared incoming freshmen University libraries could initiate an “adopt a high school” project, as an outreach to providing library education to secondary students. The return-on- investment would be better prepared incoming freshmen A campaign for librarian subject specialization could be launched. Librarians could adopt different faculties/departments and become subject liaisons to them. Incentives for librarians to pursue additional subject degrees (MA/MS) could be considered. A campaign for librarian subject specialization could be launched. Librarians could adopt different faculties/departments and become subject liaisons to them. Incentives for librarians to pursue additional subject degrees (MA/MS) could be considered.

25 Model: Srinakharinwirot University: Library science students do outreach to adopted public school, working with students there to promote reading and library usage. Model: Srinakharinwirot University: Library science students do outreach to adopted public school, working with students there to promote reading and library usage.

26 Myanmar Common characteristics/strengths: An effort on making collections (catalogs) online since the majority of catalogs are still manual. An effort on making collections (catalogs) online since the majority of catalogs are still manual. An interlibrary loan arrangement in effect. Resource sharing between the Universities Central Library and university libraries exists (although on an informal basis). An interlibrary loan arrangement in effect. Resource sharing between the Universities Central Library and university libraries exists (although on an informal basis). A library school, granting professional librarian diplomas (2 years, on top of already-earned bachelors degrees; making for good subject specialization). A library school, granting professional librarian diplomas (2 years, on top of already-earned bachelors degrees; making for good subject specialization).

27 Common challenges: Extremely limited budgets. Extremely limited budgets. The dispersal of libraries (often their own, isolated collections, un-networked with other libraries; usually no online catalog, no professional librarian, and limited access/hours. The dispersal of libraries (often their own, isolated collections, un-networked with other libraries; usually no online catalog, no professional librarian, and limited access/hours. The nature of Myanmar education: mostly memorization/ exams…little or no independent undergraduate research. The nature of Myanmar education: mostly memorization/ exams…little or no independent undergraduate research. A lack of libraries / library education at the pre-university level (little/no books or librarians in the public schools) A lack of libraries / library education at the pre-university level (little/no books or librarians in the public schools) Little user education. Little user education.

28 Opportunities: Limited user education + low library usage. By increasing/improving one (user education), the other (low usage) automatically increases/improves, as well. Limited user education + low library usage. By increasing/improving one (user education), the other (low usage) automatically increases/improves, as well. Faculty/Department libraries + low budgets. Making a strong case to fully link/integrate all libraries, to keep competitive among other tech-increasing universities, can result in increased publicity, and therefore, funding. Faculty/Department libraries + low budgets. Making a strong case to fully link/integrate all libraries, to keep competitive among other tech-increasing universities, can result in increased publicity, and therefore, funding.

29 Laos Common characteristics/strengths: Having established facilities—with scheduled hours, permanent staff, organized shelving, etc. Having established facilities—with scheduled hours, permanent staff, organized shelving, etc. An effort on making collections (catalogs) online. Although manual catalogs are still the majority, several data-entry projects—to convert manual catalogs to automated—are underway. An effort on making collections (catalogs) online. Although manual catalogs are still the majority, several data-entry projects—to convert manual catalogs to automated—are underway. Acquiring new materials via donations (improving collections at little/no cost). Acquiring new materials via donations (improving collections at little/no cost).

30 Common challenges: Extremely limited budgets Extremely limited budgets A lack of professionally-trained librarians A lack of professionally-trained librarians A lack of libraries / library education at the pre- university level (little/no books or librarians in the public schools…despite praiseworthy effort by the National Library to disburse “book boxes.” A lack of libraries / library education at the pre- university level (little/no books or librarians in the public schools…despite praiseworthy effort by the National Library to disburse “book boxes.” Little or no advanced Reference service expected or provided; i.e., students only view librarians as “workers to check out books”…and Ref Desks mainly do simple locating, not research advising. Little or no advanced Reference service expected or provided; i.e., students only view librarians as “workers to check out books”…and Ref Desks mainly do simple locating, not research advising. Little or no user education. Little or no user education.

31 Opportunities: Limited user education + low library usage. By increasing/improving one (user education), the other (low usage) automatically increases/improves, as well. Limited user education + low library usage. By increasing/improving one (user education), the other (low usage) automatically increases/improves, as well. Increasing professional librarians. Colleges/universities in Laos could consider assisting their library workers to earn a professional librarian degree from neighboring Thailand, in exchange for a commitment of x years of service. The payback to the library would be increased professional expertise and innovation. Increasing professional librarians. Colleges/universities in Laos could consider assisting their library workers to earn a professional librarian degree from neighboring Thailand, in exchange for a commitment of x years of service. The payback to the library would be increased professional expertise and innovation.

32 Cambodia Common characteristics/strengths: Having established facilities—with scheduled hours, permanent staff, organized shelving, etc. Having established facilities—with scheduled hours, permanent staff, organized shelving, etc. An effort on making collections (catalogs) online. Although manual catalogs are still the majority, several data-entry projects—to convert manual catalogs to automated—are underway. An effort on making collections (catalogs) online. Although manual catalogs are still the majority, several data-entry projects—to convert manual catalogs to automated—are underway. Acquiring new materials via donations (improving collections at little/no cost). Acquiring new materials via donations (improving collections at little/no cost).

33 Common challenges: Extremely limited budgets Extremely limited budgets A lack of professionally-trained librarians. A lack of professionally-trained librarians. The nature of Cambodian education: mainly memorization/exams, little/no independent research. The nature of Cambodian education: mainly memorization/exams, little/no independent research. A lack of libraries/library education at the pre-university level (little/no books or librarians in the public schools). A lack of libraries/library education at the pre-university level (little/no books or librarians in the public schools). Little or no advanced Reference service expected or provided; i.e., librarians viewed as only “workers to check out books”…and Ref Desks mainly do simple locating Little or no advanced Reference service expected or provided; i.e., librarians viewed as only “workers to check out books”…and Ref Desks mainly do simple locating Little or no user education. Little or no user education.

34 Opportunities: The above challenges can also be viewed as opportunities. The above challenges can also be viewed as opportunities. Limited user education + low library usage. By increasing/improving one (user education), the other (low usage) automatically increases/improves, as well. Limited user education + low library usage. By increasing/improving one (user education), the other (low usage) automatically increases/improves, as well. Limited budgets + external partnerships. Deals with Cambodian bookstores or businesses could be made: advertising in exchange for donations. Limited budgets + external partnerships. Deals with Cambodian bookstores or businesses could be made: advertising in exchange for donations.

35 Model: Pannasastra University-- formal partnerships with U.S. universities to get book donations & library consultants, and with the U.S embassy to get “American Corner” books & media. Model: Pannasastra University-- formal partnerships with U.S. universities to get book donations & library consultants, and with the U.S embassy to get “American Corner” books & media.

36 Vietnam Common characteristics/strengths: A widespread construction effort—many grants for spacious and modern new facilities. A widespread construction effort—many grants for spacious and modern new facilities. A widespread usage of technology—online catalogs are prevalent, with databases as well. A widespread usage of technology—online catalogs are prevalent, with databases as well. Well established cataloging & acquisitions services— very systematic in building collections. Well established cataloging & acquisitions services— very systematic in building collections. Innovations in services—most often due to the proactive efforts of the library director Innovations in services—most often due to the proactive efforts of the library director

37 Common Challenges A need for improving the LIS training curriculum. More modern skills needed; MLIS without required BLIS needed A need for improving the LIS training curriculum. More modern skills needed; MLIS without required BLIS needed Little or no advanced Reference service expected or provided; Ref Desks mainly do simple locating, not research advising. Little or no advanced Reference service expected or provided; Ref Desks mainly do simple locating, not research advising. The nature of Vietnamese education: mainly memorization/exams, little/no independent research. The nature of Vietnamese education: mainly memorization/exams, little/no independent research. A lack of libraries / library education at the pre- university level (few libraries or librarians) A lack of libraries / library education at the pre- university level (few libraries or librarians) A need for more continual Library User Education. A need for more continual Library User Education.

38 Opportunities: LIS curriculum + limited Reference service. Opportunity to revise the curriculum for more Ref/Instruction services. The result? Higher image of librarians and creating more attraction for approaching them. LIS curriculum + limited Reference service. Opportunity to revise the curriculum for more Ref/Instruction services. The result? Higher image of librarians and creating more attraction for approaching them. User education + low library usage. By increasing/improving one (user education), the other (low usage) automatically increases/improves, as well. User education + low library usage. By increasing/improving one (user education), the other (low usage) automatically increases/improves, as well. LIS curriculum + innovative directors. In the absence of adequate LIS preparations, innovative directors can in-house train librarians in exciting new areas: web guides, info lit workshops, etc. LIS curriculum + innovative directors. In the absence of adequate LIS preparations, innovative directors can in-house train librarians in exciting new areas: web guides, info lit workshops, etc.

39 Model: Vietnam National University, Natural Sciences Library. The library director is taking new & modern techniques learned from his training at Simmons College (Boston, USA) to offer in-house training to both his, & outside, librarians. Model: Vietnam National University, Natural Sciences Library. The library director is taking new & modern techniques learned from his training at Simmons College (Boston, USA) to offer in-house training to both his, & outside, librarians.

40 Southeast Asia as a region: Library services Circulation service: fairly universal, though automation is not Circulation service: fairly universal, though automation is not Reference service: fairly universal, though the issues of nonprofessionals at Ref Desks and no expectation for advanced assistance exist Reference service: fairly universal, though the issues of nonprofessionals at Ref Desks and no expectation for advanced assistance exist User Education service: commonly deficient throughout the region, though in varying degrees User Education service: commonly deficient throughout the region, though in varying degrees Interlibrary loan service: not widely common; poses an opportunity for e-ILL. Interlibrary loan service: not widely common; poses an opportunity for e-ILL.

41 Automated Circulation. Not common everywhere…but efforts toward this. Automated Circulation. Not common everywhere…but efforts toward this. Online catalogs. Again, not at all common everywhere, and a wide variety of software programs being used (incompatible formats for shared catalogs). Online catalogs. Again, not at all common everywhere, and a wide variety of software programs being used (incompatible formats for shared catalogs). Internet Access. Yes, a strong majority showing (90%), but in some cases, only for librarian/staff use, not for students. Internet Access. Yes, a strong majority showing (90%), but in some cases, only for librarian/staff use, not for students. Library Web pages. Wide diversity: ranging from sophisticated pages—catalog access, embedded databases, log-in portals, etc., to no library page at all or just a mentioning of the library on the University’s page. Library Web pages. Wide diversity: ranging from sophisticated pages—catalog access, embedded databases, log-in portals, etc., to no library page at all or just a mentioning of the library on the University’s page. Southeast Asia as a region: Technology

42 Staffing. Varying widely from country to country, both in quantity, but quality. A common trend: librarians often being assigned to behind-the-scenes duties more than public services (Reference/Instruction). Staffing. Varying widely from country to country, both in quantity, but quality. A common trend: librarians often being assigned to behind-the-scenes duties more than public services (Reference/Instruction). Budgets. Also varying widely from country to country. One extreme: well-funded urban university libraries with budgets in the hundreds of thousands or more. The other extreme: libraries with no budgets at all (i.e., $0), relying entirely on donations from NGO’s and outside donors for materials. Budgets. Also varying widely from country to country. One extreme: well-funded urban university libraries with budgets in the hundreds of thousands or more. The other extreme: libraries with no budgets at all (i.e., $0), relying entirely on donations from NGO’s and outside donors for materials. Southeast Asia as a region: Staffing & Budgets

43 Southeast Asia as a region: Opportunities Changing the nature of education. By far, the most common challenge is the phenomenon of “the nature of education” producing a non-library-using student culture. Changing this requires cooperative lobbying. Country library associations need to lobby ministries of education for change: library education and/or more independent research incorporated into the curriculum. Changing the nature of education. By far, the most common challenge is the phenomenon of “the nature of education” producing a non-library-using student culture. Changing this requires cooperative lobbying. Country library associations need to lobby ministries of education for change: library education and/or more independent research incorporated into the curriculum. Promoting the professional status of librarians. A step academic libraries can take toward this end is to begin more library user education, to put librarians more in the spotlight as proactive information instructors as opposed to passive collection managers. Promoting the professional status of librarians. A step academic libraries can take toward this end is to begin more library user education, to put librarians more in the spotlight as proactive information instructors as opposed to passive collection managers.

44 Thank you


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