No. 94, July 2019
The 27th Conference of Directors of National Libraries in Asia and Oceania (CDNLAO) was held during February 2019 in Singapore on the theme "What Is Our Future: National Libraries in 2040." Mr. Tadahiko Motoyoshi, Director General of the Kansai-kan, was there to represent the National Diet Library (NDL). I was also there to accompany Mr. Motoyoshi, and in this report, I would like to briefly describe my experiences at the conference.
The Day before the Conference
The participants were invited to a welcome dinner hosted by Ms. Elaine Ng, CEO of the National Library Board of Singapore (NLB Singapore), on February 20, the day before the conference. The reception was held at The Pod, located on Level 16 of the National Library Building, and we enjoyed a breath-taking panorama of Singapore at dusk.
Not only was the view amazing, it was quite enlightening to discuss Singapore with National Library employees and other participants as well as to learn about how the city was designed and how libraries are strategically located there, especially for a first time visitor like myself. The National Library Building of Singapore, the Central Public Library, and the Lee Kong Chain Reference Library are all situated in a single location, from which they provide people of all ages and differing interests with a diverse range of library materials and services. The view made me realize how libraries that are close to where people live are better able to enrich the lives of their patrons.
The reception was nicely coordinated with a number of events. To get the festivities started, Mr. Chong Thong Yang, a librarian from library@esplanade, played "Colors of the Wind" on the flute, and Ms. Nirmala Narayanasamy, a librarian at the Content & Services Mother Tongue Languages Group's Tamil Library Service team, sang two songs. One of them was entitled "Home," which she sang in Singapore's four national languages - English, Mandarin, Malay, and Tamil. They were wonderful performances, and the fact that all the performers were librarians made us want to visit the libraries where they work to learn more about Singapore's libraries. In fact, we had some time before our flight home and were able to visit library@esplanade on our last day.
< Reception at The Pod, Level 16 of the National Library Building >
The conference began on the 21st, with Ms. Ng welcoming the participants and noting that, since the theme of the conference was "What Is Our Future: National Libraries in 2040," this would be a good opportunity for participants to discuss their ideas about the future of national libraries as well as strategies for implementing those ideas.
Ms. Tan Huism, Director of National Library, NLB Singapore, and chair of the conference organizing committee, invited the participants to introduce themselves. After that, there were presentations related to the theme of the conference by the National Library of Australia, the National Library of China, the National Library of Indonesia, the NDL, the National Library of Malaysia, the National Library of Myanmar, the National Library of New Zealand, and the NLB Singapore.
Mr. Motoyoshi gave a presentation entitled "Contribution to the information infrastructure of society and universal access," in which he described the current and future policies of the NDL as well as sharing his ideas on what roles national libraries should play in 2040, particularly with regard to the challenges libraries face from social changes.
The presentations covered a wide variety of topics reflecting each library's geographical and historical characteristics, and all of them were very informative and inspiring. As Ms. Ng mentioned in the opening remarks, it was a great opportunity to exchange views on the future of national libraries. The summary of the conference itself is available in an article written by the NLB Singapore, which I believe would be very inspiring to all librarians, especially those who are young and will still be working at libraries in 2040.
Exhibition: "Selling Dreams: Early Advertising in Singapore"
When we visited the National Library Building for this conference, a special exhibition entitled Selling Dreams: Early Advertising in Singapore was reaching its end. The exhibition began on July 20, 2018, and was one of two special exhibitions being held in the National Library Building. The exhibition featured advertising materials from the 1830s to 1960s in the National Library collection, and explored "the hopes, dreams, aspirations and insecurities of society over the years." Mr. Chung Sang Hong, Assistant Director for Exhibitions and Content & Services, guided us and explained in detail the historical background of each material, how the exhibitions were organized, and how we could learn more about Singapore's past through a deeper understanding its achievements.
Curating national culture and exposing it to a larger audience via on-site and virtual exhibitions are important discussion points for all libraries. The Selling Dreams exhibition utilized new technologies effectively to demonstrate the appeal of the materials, which is also something that we felt would be most helpful when planning our own exhibitions.
< Exhibition: "Selling Dreams: Early Advertising in Singapore" >
Attending the CDNLAO Conference Was a Memorable Experience
I work for the Public Service section at the NDL's Kansai-kan, which is located in Kansai Science City, where there are more than 140 different research facilities engaged in innovative research. Thus, we often discuss the influence of innovation on library services. The opportunity to talk directly with members of the CDNLAO community has inspired me to think deeply about the future of services in research libraries.
Apart from the CDNLAO program, we also visited library@esplanade, which is dedicated to the performing arts, and the Central Library of Singapore National University to see their Japanese resources. The librarians were very kind and we learned a lot from them.
I would like to convey my sincere gratitude to the NLB Singapore for hosting a wonderful conference, and to everyone I met in Singapore.
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