IFLA GLOBAL VISION FOR LIBRARIES – LIBRARIANS THROUGHOUT THE WORLD DISCUSS THE FUTURE OF LIBRARIES

IFLA GLOBAL VISION FOR LIBRARIES –
LIBRARIANS THROUGHOUT THE WORLD DISCUSS THE FUTURE OF LIBRARIES
Library professionals in every country, grouped in the International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions (IFLA), are brainstorming about the future of libraries with a view to developing a global library vision and eventually putting it in practice. IFLA believes that there is need to transform the profession of librarianship around the world. In an era characterized by globalization, digitization, migration and rapid social changes, librarians need to join forces. The challenges of an ever-increasing globalization can only be met and overcome by an inclusive, global response from a unified library field. Unless all librarians get united and connected, the library field will not be able to fulfill one of its true potentials to build literate, informed and participative societies.

IFLA is spearheading a worldwide movement in this connection to develop a global vision for libraries. This Global Vision discussion is bringing thousands of representatives of the library field worldwide to explore how a connected library field can meet the challenges of the future. The kick-off event took pace at Athens in Greece on 4 April 2017. IFLA is now facilitating this global discussion at a series of high-level meetings and workshops in different parts of the world. Numerous meetings and online threads [#iflaGlobalVision] led by librarians will build on the momentum started in Athens.

Six regional workshops have been scheduled and are ongoing. The exciting Global Vision journey around the world started with the first regional workshop in North America, at the Library of Congress, Washington DC on 3 May 2017. The second IFLA Global Vision Regional Workshop Africa took place on 14 and 15 May 2017. On 21 and 22 May the third IFLA Global Vision Regional Workshop Middle East was organized in Alexandria, Egypt. Three more such Regional Workshops have been scheduled as follows: on 8-9 June 2017 at Buenos Aires, Argentina for Latin America and the Caribbean countries; for Asia Oceania on 27-28 June at the National Library of Singapore; and for Europe on 5-6 July in Spain.

For the Global Vision Regional Workshop of Africa which took place on 14 and 15 May 2017 at the Djeuga Palace Hotel in Yaounde, Cameroon, Mauritius was represented by the President of the Library and Information Association of Mauritius. Over the course of these two days, African library community leaders from 37 countries brainstormed on how a United library field can tackle the challenges of the future. The African continental made a strong contribution to the global discussion.

A dedicated “Global Vision” website has been launched by IFLA to provide key information and support materials about the project that will allow active participation in identifying future challenges facing the library field and then, with the use of interactive online voting platform, prioritizing actions that a united and connected library field can take. Online voting will take place on the IFLA Global Vision website [https://globalvision.ifla.org] and will be launched in August 2017 during the IFLA World Library and Information Congress in Wroclaw, Poland.

Conclusions from all of these conversations will then be gathered and synthesized by IFLA in a transparent manner. This material will provide a basis for the IFLA Global Vision report which will be published in early 2018. Based on the report results, there will be a second round of meetings which will lead to the development of a work plan for how to achieve the collective vision identified in an aligned, collaborative way.

World Book Day 2012 in Mauritius

The World Book and Copyright Day  is celebrated every year in Mauritius by the National Library. This year the National Library is running the 10th edition and it has organised the following activities:

  1. An elocution contest for Form six students which attracted more than 40 colleges. The final round took place on 23 April 2012 at the National Library and four winners were designated. The theme for the contest was “How to promote reading among youth in Mauritius”.
  2. From 3-5 May 2012, a book festival will be organised at the Port Louis Waterfront. Twenty bookshops and organisations involved in the book trade and publishing industry will offer for sale a variety of reading materials at discounted rate. Other organisations involved in the promotion of reading and the education sector will be present. Many activities around the book will be organised to attract children towards reading and books.
  3. On Saturday 5 May 2012, an interactive session between the public and Mauritian writers will take place from 3  to 4.00 p,m. on the theme “A Coeur Ouvert Avec les Ecrivains”. The audience will be offered the opprotunity to ask questions to the writers on any topic related to their books. This is an innovation this year as far as World Book Day celebrations are concerned in Mauritius.
  4. any other decentralised activities have also been planned in schools, colleges and in municipalities.

The public is invited to participate in all the activities.

Re-inventing the Online Catalogue

The traditional definition of the library catalogue as a ‘key to exploit the resources of the library’ is now considered as something of the past. Technologies have pushed the limits of the catalogue beyond the holdings of the library, as many academic libraries are nowadays providing pointers in their online catalogue to items not only in their holdings but also to digital contents stored on servers in remote places outside the geographical boundaries of the library.  There has operated a paradigm shift in library operations with a  focus on accessibility to materials, irrespective of their location rather than  on the availability of locally held materials. It matters little, or not at all, for the user then to know where the item is held, provided the librarian provide access to the required document within the premises of the library or even outside the library. The explosive growth of  digital contents on the web backed by a customer-centric policy have led academic libraries in more advanced countries to add machine-readable catalogue records to their online catalogue to link hundred of thousands of URLs with freely available contents.

The Penrose Library at the University of Denver is one such academic libraries which has added links to MARC records and by 1999, the catalogue contained about 1,848 URLs for government documents available freely. Gradually, the library also added URLs with licensed documents, microfilms, full-text online version of  publications, links to publishers’ Web sites, reviews, or tables of contents and online serials. The catalogue search function enables users to locate print and digital content easily as formats are distinguishable from both the browse screens and the full record in the OPAC including the clear display of URLS. Consequently, the library catalogue now not only provides access to its own holdings but also serves as a gateway to web content that the library has selected for its users.

It is worth noting that when the State of Colorado made MARC records for state online publications available on a monthly basis to all libraries, the Penrose Library became the first virtual Colorado depository for state documents with an enhanced access to over 6,000 online titles.

However, several measures are adopted by the library for the smooth running of such platform and written procedures are developed to ensure that the digital materials are integrated effortlessly into the existing workflow. A Catalogue Management Group (CMG) is formed to look after user convenience that minimizes user confusion by providing clickable links to online contents.  It also facilitates interaction between the teams directly affected by the online catalogue. Moreover, a Collection Development Team is put into place to develop policies for selection of online content for inclusion in the catalogue. There are also copy cataloguers in the Monographs Unit who provide systematic access to digital materials.

Since physical processing (barcode, label, etc.) of items is not needed in the digital world, the library is able to load large numbers of records. At  the Penrose Library, loading batch records is accomplished by a team comprised of the head of Technical Services, a catalogue librarian, a catalogue technician, and a student worker. Furthermore, the MARCEdit software is used to manipulate these large record loads.

It is evident that the staffs have responded to the ever changing environment by developing innovative strategies. They were driven by the need of the users and focused on easing accessibility. They saw this as an opportunity to improve and expand their skills too while becoming full-fledged citizens of the digital world. Libraries are evolving over time as digital content is proliferating at an exponential rate. The answer to the question of how to harness the tide of digital information on the web seems to be the provision of a one-stop shop service to access both information held locally and from external sources via a revamped online catalogue with links to full text digital content. It is a model worth studying to be adapted in the local context.

Lalita Chumun

REFERENCE

Meagher, Elizabeth S. and Brown, Christopher C., (2010). “Turned loose in the OPAC: URL selection, addition and management process.”, Library High Tech, Vol. 28 No. 3, pp.360-376.

University of Technology, Mauritius Resource Centre on Facebook

The University of Technology, Mauritius Resource Centre  is now using Facebook applications, the much hyped social media,  to connect with its users and to develop professional networking.  You may access the pages by clicking here. You are invited to share your views, comments and opinions.

P. Hauroo

Managerial Complacency in Libraries

Let us be clear on this point: libraries like any other organizations, whether small or big, have been set up with specific missions, goals and objectives. Consequently, librarians (Directors, Heads of Library Department, etc) who are the executives invested with the required power and authority have responsibility to achieve the specified mission and objectives of the organization.   They are the managers in the real sense of the term and they do carry out all the managerial functions of planning, organizing, directing (leading) and controlling. Without going into the technicalities of the definition of the term, I would take a first definition (though not the only definition) of management as the responsibility for the performance of a group of people. If the organization fails, management fails! There is no other explanations if an organization fails to deliver as per specified expectations. Internal problems of an organization (employee’s problem for example) not solved within but referred to an outside party is symptomatic of an ailing organization.

In our local context, most libraries are in a really sad state of affairs. Why can’t they improve? Some library executives are smart, capable and fully qualified but they are stuck and cannot do much better than the daily routine things. Years in and years out, they keep on doing the same activities, without any novel idea, project or innovation. Why management (librarians) can’t improve? What’s stopping them from doing better? The answer seems to be: the librarians themselves!

Some librarians, after obtaining the so much desired position in the LIS sector are just practising the traditional librarianship of a bygone era. Other  executives having attained a certain level of proficiency have ended up by accepting things as they are. They are tuned to the “keep going” mindset and have ultimately become complacent. Still others are clinging to their post as if there would be no end even after reaching normal retirement age. They forget the simple truth that everything, whether good or bad, has an end. They pretty well know that they are where they are, not on the strength of their professional aptitudes or reputation as good library executives, but on the basis of a particular set of skills known to everyone. All these have brought in a generalized lethargy in the LIS sector. What ought to be a dynamic field is now perceived by people outside the profession as a sluggish, moribund and unattractive profession.

Library executives have tried to “woo employees” by adopting friendly attitudes. Their management style is based on personal relationship with their employees. They favour “managerial populism” and want to be liked by (or become popular with) all their employees. They are as if permanently electioneering to contest an election for which they need to secure votes. Others have become tyrants/ autocratic with the ” I am the only boss”, “do as what I say or else you will be fired” attitude. With such friendly attitudes, managerial complacency sets in the organization and the tyranny of the boss contributes in the high turn over of employees. How librarians can improve themselves?

Asking questions about oneself, “how good I am”, ” am I doing things correctly”, “can I do better“, etc is the first step toward improvement. Librarians must first manage themselves.  Librarians should take time and effort to grow and develop themselves. The day that they stop growing, they start dying. Moreover, they should project a positive image of  themselves,  command respect of their employees and their authority should come not solely from the chair of the position they occupy,  but also from personal and professional competencies. They should be perceived by their employees as  good and great managers, fair and just in dealing with staff matters. One of the common blunders of awful managers is the allocation for overseas training to employees, not on the basis of merits to meet the needs of the organization, but using it as a reward to mediocre employees for their faithfulness and docile attitude.

Managers should be aware that what they do, their beliefs, their actions and values and how they communicate, are constantly being observed by their employees who create a perception  of their managers on the basis of these observations. It is good to remember that managers achieve results through people. How could librarians/managers exert productive influence on their people? To be effective, librarians need to be able to exert influence that makes a difference not only in what their employees do but also in the thoughts and feelings that drive their actions. For this to happen, people’s trust in their managers is important. Without this trust no manager can influence the attitude and bahaviour of the people they are supposed to manage. Managers should believe in their own competence, their values, what they do and how they do. Their motives and intentions should be equally transparent enough to all employees to serve as the foundations for the trust people will place on them.

Are our library executives capable of this transformation?

P. Hauroo

Faculty-Librarian Collaboration in Academic Libraries

Courtesy: Ti Yu., 2009. A new model of faculty-librarian collaboration: the faculty member as library specialist. New Library World. 110 (9/10)

In view to serve and satisfy all the users in the academic community and also provide the right information to each user, academic libraries overseas are looking for better ways and means to promote their services and resources. The faculty-librarian collaboration is a new approach to assist users find, organise, evaluate and apply content of the information they require. It consists of active, close and consistent work between faculty members and the personnel of the library. It is found that the sharing of individual experiences and knowledge of both groups enables the provision of suitable guidance. Consequently, in order to establish effective faculty-librarian collaboration, the Jinwen University of Science and Technology (JUST) in Taipei, Taiwan introduced the new model of “Faculty member as Library
Specialist  to improve the provision of services in various ways”.

Provision of subject-specific information needs:
It is not easy for qualified professional librarians to provide accurate subject-oriented reference services to students and faculty members from different fields of learning in a particular university. As a result, the Library Specialists are assigned to provide more in-depth information, reference advice services on subject-specific information needs and database retrieving skills for students and teachers. Complicated topics are thus passed on by the library staff and handled by Library Specialists to better answer the users.

Integration of library resources into courses:
At the same time as teaching the students how to find and use both printed and electronic resources in the library, the Library Specialists work closely with the library staff to integrate the library resources into their curricula. They design library assignment sheets, workshops, classroom activities which in addition encourage the students to use the library resources and
share the knowledge and experiences.

Organising book clubs:
The JUST library provides a reasonable budget to Library Specialists to organise book clubs in particular subjects. Stories and ideas in fields like Business Management, Hotel Management and Chinese Literature are posted in the blog by different lecturers where they are able to share their experiences, discuss a famous person or talk about a new book with different readers online. Moreover, there are regular reading workshops and introducing of the works of a particular author in order to attract students to read and encourage them to borrow more books from the library.

Consultation support for collection development:
Library specialists become consultants to the library staff as they provide suggestions, answer inquiries, select the right monographs, journals and e-resources to review the quality and build the collections of each discipline in the library.

Providing e-portfolio skills:
The Library Specialists give training and advises to students in the JUST to create their own e-portfolio on the web which is an important collection of electronic evidence of their learning record and achievements.

The implementation of the faculty members as Library Specialists clearly marks a positive influence in the use of the library which led the university to recommend a teacher from each academic department to be a Library Specialist to provide professional knowledge to users. Incentives such as extra two points for their annual teaching evaluation and financial
rewards for their time and efforts are also given to motivate the faculty members to join the project with the aim to help the library to promote its resources and assist students to become a knowledgeable person.

The traditional methods of providing services and building up the collection in the academic libraries in Mauritius compels the users to depend on the inadequate resources and knowledge of library staff to satisfy their information needs in particular disciplines. The faculty-librarian collaboration system is indeed required at some stage in higher learning
and it could be given some thought in the local context. Obtaining a good support from the authorities, establishing an active relationship and good communication with the faculty members could facilitate to set up a harmonious faculty-library collaborative platform for the benefit of the users.

Lalita Chumun

Changing Roles of the Customer for Service Innovations in Libraries

Libraries are in the midst of a technological revolution: from acquiring prints to providing electronic access and eventually moving towards the virtual (digital) library, they are operating a paradigm shift from availability of library materials (locally) to accessibility of information from remote places. This shift is bringing a complete metamorphosis of libraries, which are subject to an ongoing change. One of the fundamental rules of business is to be led by demand of the market. Library services go beyond this demand-oriented provision of services and are eventually more user-centric than book-centric. More and more libraries in the developed countries are employing innovative methods to rethink and reshape services in order to remain relevant and keep close to their patrons. Feedback on all aspects of services, inputs and contributions from the customers are the major and useful elements that are considered for service innovations in libraries overseas. The mutual understanding of the customers’ needs and wishes as well as the technological opportunities are highly valued and used for the service development which, consequently, brings a constant change in the role of customers in the innovation process.

The Roskilde University Library (RUB) in Copenhagen, Denmark applies a systematic approach to involve customers in the service innovations. The management team is alert to the changes taking place and has defined three major roles of the customer while involving their contributions in the innovation process.

1. Customer as a resource. The RUB uses several techniques to involve customers in the design of library and information services: surveys, suggestion box and feedback in order to know the level of satisfaction of customers with services experienced, library facilities and new changes. A praise/complaint box also contains the ongoing comments of customers about the everyday use of the library, reference or consultation services. New ideas from information literacy training sessions furthermore help the management at the RUB to gain an insight of the customers’ perspective and explain their reactions. Thus, the RUB collects ideas and inputs both in a formal and informal way to evaluate the everyday practice and include the suggestions of the customers for service innovations.

2. Customer as co-creator. The customers are co-creators along with the library management team when they help develop new types of services and provide part of the content. The RUB launched an electronic service where the customers wrote recommendations or reviews on library materials. The Web 2.0 and social networking has besides given room to user-generated content, which the management utilize positively. What’s more, the inputs of the customers as co-creators allowing them to be integrated during the creation of new services have brought a welcomed change.  This has changed the passive user to become an active participator in the successful creation of new services in the library.

3. Customer as a user. The customers are users when they are invited to use the newly introduced services whereby the RUB management team encourages their feedback or criticism for evaluation. The RUB team also uses observation techniques and directly approaches the users to find out the barriers and difficulties that they face while using new services. Interactive chat sessions like ‘chat with the Librarian’ give more information which help the management to solve issues, to improve the service or even stop any problematic system in the aim to reach out and stay close to an important number of customers.

The RUB gives an important outline of the involvement of the customers and management practices for service innovations in the library. This example of user-driven library services may serve as a model and may well suit the local community. Allowing customers to become part of and contribute actively in the innovation process would assist the management in the satisfactory provision of library and information services to users.

Lalita Chumun

Reference

Scupola, A. and Nicolajsen, H. W., 2010. Service innovation in academic libraries: is there a place for the customers. Library Management. 31 (4/5)