No. 101, March 2023
The 28th Conference of Directors of National Libraries in Asia and Oceania (CDNLAO) was officially resumed in Jakarta on October 25, 2022, after its hiatus for the past two years due to the COVID-19 pandemic. This year's annual meeting was held both onsite and online and attended by delegations from 30 countries in Asia and Oceania.
The National Library of Indonesia became the organizer of this year's annual inter-library activities in Asia and Oceania which aim to exchange information and promote cooperation for the development of libraries in Asia and Oceania. The 28th CDNLAO was officially opened by the Director of the National Library of Indonesia, Muhammad Syarif Bando, and featured the theme Library Service Impacts on Community: Sustainability, Inclusion, and Innovation.
1. Opening Speech
Mr. Bando highlighted the role of the conference to respond to changing paradigms in the future. The conference also aimed to share ideas for the development of libraries across Asia-Oceania. He emphasized the need to address VUCA (vulnerability, uncertainty, complexity, and ambiguity) through the library services transformation based on social inclusion program. It will also contribute to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). To achieve this, the National Library of Indonesia determined this as a priority program which is increasing the role of public libraries as the learning center for society.
He explained that the complex international situation is currently a challenge for libraries in putting forward ideas based on fair access to information. He said the library should be fully involved in supporting Sustainable Development to end poverty, improve welfare, and protect the planet, through achieving its 17 goals. Libraries are required not only to provide services but also to take into account the impact of the services provided.
In the recovery of the domestic economy, libraries have an important role as an open space for the community in improving the quality of life. For this reason, the National Library of Indonesia established a new library paradigm that is oriented towards utilizing library resources with the largest proportion being libraries for science transfer. For the strengthening of libraries in Indonesia, the National Library of Indonesia has library services based on a social inclusion program that aims to improve community welfare through library empowerment. This program seeks to revitalize the functioning of public libraries based on social inclusion. The public library was revitalized as a center for community empowerment activities and it is committed to improving people's quality of life and welfare.
The tagline Literacy for Welfare has the meaning of actualizing a prosperous society by empowering public libraries. This is closely aligned with the public library manifesto in supporting the achievement of the SDGs.
2. Welcoming note
Ms. Vicki McDonald, elected IFLA President of 2023–2025, also participated virtually from Brisbane, Australia. She appreciated the goals of the conference and thanked the organizer for the invitation. On behalf of IFLA, she conveyed that IFLA's vision is to achieve a strong and unified library, by empowering a literate, informative, and participatory society. She highlighted that in today's global situation, governments need to shoulder the burden of social challenges by facilitating the provision of high-quality library and information services.
The year 2022 marks a milestone for IFLA as a 95-year-old organization. After decades of organization, IFLA needs to ensure the actualization of its vision in creating a more attractive library network along with the participation of national libraries.
3. Topic 1: Sustainable and Green Library
The conference then continued to its first session which discussed the topic of sustainability. The first session was opened by IFLA Asia-Oceania Regional Manager, Lin Li Soh, who stated that the library plays a role in supporting the SDG's Sustainability Program. For this reason, libraries must be able to provide access to information to the community, so that the community can develop sustainably, both socially and environmentally. IFLA has created the Library Map of the World website, which contains library data in 135 countries, SDG stories, and profiles of 28 countries. The SDG story channel contains library-related activities and programs that bring changes to drive the achievement of the SDGs.
On sustainability issues, Ms. Lin Li Soh explained that IFLA believes that sustainability is a library business. Therefore, IFLA created a section named IFLA ENSULIB (Environment, Sustainability, and Libraries) in August 2021. Through this section, IFLA rewards libraries for sustainability efforts by giving them the IFLA Green Library Award and the Best Green Library Project. To conclude her presentation, Ms. Lin Li Soh invited all participants to contribute a short article about their respective national libraries to the IFLA Asia Oceania Regional Newsletter as a way to present more library stories around the world.
Dr. Esmat Mohmeni, from the National Library and Archives of the Islamic Republic of Iran, built her case based on Ranganathan's Fifth Law, which stated that libraries are growing organisms. National libraries must play a role to continue to meet the growing needs of the public for information. An educated and learned person will have a dynamic and analytical mind and therefore will be able to handle and succeed in dealing with social change.
In carrying out this task, the "National Library Council" has changed to the "State Library Planning and Organization Council."
The Council has a role to play:
- Strengthening the existence of libraries in the community
- Improving human capital structures, processes, and empowerment
- Growing and developing professional field in expanding interactive network
- Strengthening the position of the planning and organizing board of the state library
The Council also has four committees:
- Collection provision and management committee
- Organization and information processing committee
- Protection and maintenance committee
- Providing services and using information and knowledge committee
She also emphasized the importance of national libraries and archives as executive and legislative information arms in decision-making. They play an important role in data governance, information management, and knowledge management. The Fifth Principle of Ranganathan must regulate library and archive planning, programming, and organization. National libraries are important for the planning and organization of information flows. The Board can help libraries to transform into growing organizations to achieve sustainable and inclusive library services.
4. Topic 2: Inclusive Library Services
(1) Viet Nam
The second session discussed the topic of inclusion and it was opened by Ms. Nguyen Ngoc Anh, who presented the role of the National Library of Viet Nam to carry out information services with reading services, Online Public Access Catalogue (OPAC), book display, and recognition, bibliography, information consultation, multimedia services. This is especially visible in the Children's Cultural Library to meet the needs of children with special needs.
In public libraries, ILS (Inclusive Library Service) is concerned with universal literacy for people with special needs, the role of liberal education, inclusive libraries and their relationship to the SDGs. Public libraries in Vietnam have undertaken various inclusive library service programs, particularly services for the blind, to leave no one behind in terms of library services. Ms. Nguyen concluded with an overall evaluation of inclusive library services by looking at the accessibility environment, equal opportunities, and challenges in Vietnam.
Meanwhile, the Director of the National Library of Indonesia Mr. Muhammad Syarif Bando's approach to inclusion is based on two fundamental pillars of the nation, to advance the welfare and to educate the life of the nation. Later, it was realized that literacy as a concept of reading and writing ability is not enough to actualize the pillars of the nation. Therefore, the National Library of Indonesia redefines the word literacy as "the depth of one's knowledge of a certain subject of science that can be implemented with innovation and creativity to produce high-quality goods and services to win global competition". This new definition consists of 5 levels, as follows:
- Reading, writing, numeracy, science and character building of the nation's children.
- Affordable access, accurate, up-to-date, complete, and reliable reading materials from a minimum of 10 of the latest science search engines (e-books, digital books, printed/recorded works).
- Understanding what implied and explicit meanings are.
- Having a strong mentality, strong character, innovation, and creativity in anticipation of the development of information technology that changes rapidly.
- Having knowledge and skills that can be implemented to create goods/services that can be used in global competition (becoming a producer, not merely a consumer).
The National Library of Indonesia has carried out several inclusive library service activities, such as seminars and discussions on literacy for the community as well as the cooperation of the National Library of Indonesia with regional stakeholders to improve the literacy index by improving regional libraries.
The National Library of Indonesia also created a new library paradigm in Indonesia, where 10% of library roles are managing collections, 20% managing knowledge, and 70% transferring knowledge. This paradigm is considered the most suitable for social inclusion library services, especially when the community is faced with an uncertain and unexpected situation such as the Covid-19 pandemic. This paradigm is applied in the form of digital services such as reading applications, online consulting services, and digital access to rare collections through the national library website.
Mr. Syarif Bando concluded his presentation by stating that the National Library of Indonesia will continue to carry out the mission of making libraries in all regions of Indonesia into cultural, learning, and community activity centers.
Meanwhile, Mr. Edgardo B. Quiros first presented the background of library services in the Philippines, such as the ordinance or regulation on persons with disabilities, the National Council on Disability Affairs, and other non-governmental organizations. The National Library of the Philippines has provided the Library for the Blind, which reproduces books into braille, large print, and audiobooks. In addition, it also provides facilities for special blind users, as well as employing blind librarians. In addition to disability-oriented services, the National Library of the Philippines is responsible for supporting libraries with programs. This program includes disability awareness training in public libraries and offices, digital literacy, and reading programs.
Mr. Edgardo also gave the example of the Antipolo City Public Library, where the library held a reading program for the Aeta indigenous people. The library also collaborates with the Department of Education's Alternative Learning System Bureau so that people who do not have internet access can also have opportunities to learn.
5. Topic 3: Innovative Library Services in the VUCA (Volatility, Uncertainty, Complexity, Ambiguity) Era
The third session was continued by Ms. Alicia Yeo of the National Library Board (NLB) Singapore. She started her presentation by talking about her mother's exposure in these current times. The elderly exposure in the current Vulnerability, Uncertainty, Complexity, and Ambiguity (VUCA) era where everything is always changing and the change is fast is something that needed to be discussed. In response to these changes, the NLB has established the Library and Archive Blueprint of 2025 (LAB25) with a focus on the mission of building a future economy, a smart nation, and a strong Singaporean society. LAB25 is also intended as an invitation for partners and communities to join NLB to innovate and reorganize libraries and archives to become stronger partners in navigating and developing the shared social, cultural, and economic landscape.
LAB25 discusses four trends that emerged with the VUCA era:
- Economic disruption requires new skills in response to this trend, therefore the NLB plans to transform itself into a national lifelong learning platform with like-minded partners by creating learning paths that will lead to learning communities;
- With the increasing polarization and misinformation, NLB aims to nurture so that people can become wiser and will reflect deeply on what they encounter every day thus forming informed citizens;
- Finding who we are, who I am: LAB25 will be implemented as a way to inspire the discovery and creation of Singapore stories and instill a deeper appreciation of collective experiences;
- Those who are underprivileged are left behind. To address the societal gap created by the VUCA era, the NLB plans to use the LAB25 blueprint as a way to bridge the gap, engage more people, and empower all societies in this digital age.
Ms. Tan Huism from the Qatar National Library (QNL) also noted that the world is constantly changing, and this is exemplified by the acronym Volatility, Uncertainty, Complexity, and Ambiguity (VUCA). The Covid-19 pandemic is an example of this phenomenon. The Qatar National Library is directed at safeguarding the national heritage. This library serves as a national library, as a public library, and also as a research library.
The Qatar National Library responded to VUCA by continuing to provide services through various measures. Among these initiatives are Breastfeeding Support Sessions. The program aims to support pregnant and lactating women through training sessions. During the Covid-19 pandemic, the number of participants increased with the use of virtual sessions, and this is still an option to conduct support sessions today. The success of the program led to the creation of similar support sessions, such as ADHD awareness sessions for parents and teachers.
The Qatar National Library plays an important role in its participation to preserve the regional documentary heritage. The QNL organized the IFLAPAC Qatar Conservation Centre for the Arab States. One of its programs is Project Himaya, in which the QNL has made efforts to react to illegal documentary heritage trade across the region. This is conducted in cooperation with national and international organizations operating in the Arab region. The QNL advocates better laws for the protection of documents and cultural institutions to update INTERPOL's database of stolen works of art. In addition, it also developed an automated monitoring and scanning system for illegal sales in various sources, such as auction catalogs and social media. Ms. Huism concluded that VUCA not only needs to be understood in our usual understanding, but can also be called Vision, Understanding, Clarity, and Agility.
Mr. Xiong Yuanming, the Director of the National Library of China (NLC), also shared that the National Library of China performs 3 innovative library services in a new era. The first is to use modern technology to rebuild the library room. This is to facilitate the increased need of the community to use the library as a place to experience cultural diversity, exchange thoughts, and transfer knowledge with others. He also highlighted that the integration of physical and digital library services has become the main direction of library service innovation because of its ability to reach more people in the VUCA period. Some examples of these innovations are digital reading walls and smart reading trees.
The second innovation is strengthening the core excellence and capability of knowledge services. This is carried out by applying intelligent technologies to enable automated data extraction, multi-dimensional views, scenario sharing, and interactive experiences, so libraries should be able to promote solutions rather than just provide information.
The third innovation is to reach the community and promote sustainable development by making libraries more accessible such as branch libraries, mobile libraries, and self-service equipment. The NLC also provides multi-level learning services such as elderly care, lecture series, and targeted assistance to villages. Mr. Yuanming concluded his presentation that NLC continues to provide full services for the role of libraries, innovate library services, and build a people-oriented library.
The 28th CDNLAO took place on 24-27 October, 2022 in Jakarta. This is the National Library of Indonesia's third time hosting. Previously, Indonesia hosted CDNLAO meetings in 2007 and 2012. More information about the 28th CDNLAO General Meeting in Jakarta can be accessed at https://cdnlao28.perpusnas.go.id.
The 29th CDNLAO General Conference in 2023 will be hosted by the Qatar National Library.
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