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CDNLAO Newsletter

No. 84, December 2015

Special topic: Reader Services

Library Services in the 21st Century

By Khanthamaly Yangnouvong (Mrs.) Director, National Library of Laos, President, Lao Library Association

As a memory institution in a developing country in the 21st century, the National Library of Laos (NLL) faces many challenges. Having outgrown its current premises, the NLL will be moving to a new, custom built four story building in 2016. In preparation for this move, the NLL designed a survey for staff, members, stakeholders, members of the public and potential new users to identify which library services were most important to them.

In accordance with the NLL’s mission statement and strategic plan, the survey questions focused on the Library’s objectives to improve public access to collections and services, especially via the creation of a “Digital Library;” identify the importance of staff professional learning and development opportunities to increase staff skills, knowledge and expertise; and to raise awareness of the importance and benefits of reading to primary school aged children in Vientiane province as well as increase their access to reading resources via mobile library outreach services.

The goal of the survey was to identify which services were considered to be most relevant to a national library in the 21st century. The survey was designed to include a range of services which are not currently available to NLL users so that resources could be allocated for those services as part of the move to the new library building in 2016.

The survey was made available in both English and Lao languages and was made up of three sections. The first section provided choices covering personal information and usage patterns. The second section included twenty statements about library collections and services with five possible responses ranging from very important to neutral to not important. The third section provided a free choice answer for the respondent to identify three of the most important services that the National Library should be offering.

While the survey was essentially paper based, the online survey website Survey Monkey ( was used to collate responses and analyse results.

There were more than 150 respondents to the survey although as indicated in the graph below, a large majority had rarely visited the library.

< Q4 How often do you visit the Library? >

Through better promotion of Library Services and with the move to the new building, the NLL aims to increase membership and visitor numbers.

The results found that the large majority of those surveyed recognised that libraries offer a range of important services including as a place to use computers and access information via the internet as well as playing a vital role in the promotion of reading for children.

< Q15 To use Internet including WiFi >

< Q20 Children’s Storytelling & Reading promotion Activities at the Library >

Further, there was a strong recognition by the respondents of the importance of the NLL in preserving and reflecting Lao’s cultural heritage through its traditional music, palm leaf manuscripts and rare book collection.

< Q23 The National Library’s collections reflect Lao history, culture & society >

The NLL is currently developing a web portal as the first stage of its “Digital Library” to make these collections more accessible to everyone.

The importance of Library staff providing high quality services to users was also highlighted in the responses as indicated in the chart below:

< Q24 Library staff have skills, knowledge & expertise to provide
high quality library and information services for users >

The NLL continues to strive for organisational excellence through providing staff development opportunities and promoting lifelong learning principles.

A number of respondents identified the need for the Library to provide additional spaces for reading and research as well as a place to eat which will be addressed when the NLL moves to its new premises in 2016.

The results of this survey about Library Services in the 21st century confirms the critical need for all libraries to collaborate with communities - users, stakeholders, information institutions and ASEAN partners to build relationships and share knowledge to provide the best possible service to improve people’s lives.

Copyright (C) 2015 National Library of Laos