Monthly Archives: May 2017

Trends in Italy

Read what Jan Simane has to say about trends in Italy.

  • The so-called ‘open library’ is a hot topic in Italy in 2017. After the digital turn innovations in technology and the subsequent professional requirements have been discussed intensively in the last years; now the role of libraries in terms of access, based on shared resources, and interconnection with the world beyond the academic elite is on the agenda in Italy. The term ‘social’ – as a counterpart to ‘digital’ – is in the focus. The inclusive quality of libraries is being emphasized both as an opportunity and as a challenge. On the background of comprehensive networks of sources and services for the provision of information, the libraries are seen as an integral part of an overall infrastructure in modern society.
  • Moreover, stronger oriented to issues of ‘social inclusion’, questions of strategies in institutional sharing are addressed to libraries in order to enhance the power of ‘active’ citizenship. A particular attention is given to assessment methodologies for the social impact and to very recent conceptions of evolving libraries as open space for users and for the city from the point of view of architectural and urban planning.
  • Open Access is supported with publishing services provided by academic libraries (OA repositories, digitization, publishing platforms) and by the growing number of University Press publishing houses in Italy.
  • Currently, Italian academic and research libraries are following a paradigm shift in Digital Humanities: after a period of (digital) collection building and collection management now, the libraries see their role stronger as partners of researchers’ communities instead of being a mere information and data provider. They share expertise and infrastructure in fields like text mining, text encoding and the like. The SHARE (Scholarly Heritage and Access to Research) initiative is to be seen in this context. Based on the potentials of Linked Open Data and on the BIBFRAME ontology, cooperative networks of linked data from libraries and cultural institutions (museums, archives) are being established in various regional contexts.
  • The general situation of Italian libraries is still critical. The ongoing financial crisis and the consequent cuts of budgets for public services hit the libraries hard. After serious reductions of acquisition budgets in the last years, decreasing of personnel costs is now in the focus of governmental policy. The outcome is both a cutback of jobs in libraries and increasing employments of less qualified people with precarious short-time contracts. Unavoidable are the subsequent deficits in continuity and quality of traditional library services.

Trends in Singapore

Let me begin by giving a brief context to Singapore’s higher education and research ecosystem. There are six universities in Singapore which are, in order of longevity, National University of Singapore (NUS), Nanyang Technological University (NTU), Singapore Management University (SMU), Singapore University of Technology and Design, Singapore Institute of Technology (SIT) and Singapore University of Social Sciences (SUSS). National Institute of Education (NIE) is associated with NTU and is both an educational and research institution.  Yale – NUS is a partnership between NUS and Yale universities.

There are a number of polytechnics which offer vocational training and education. National Library of Singapore is one of the major research libraries in Singapore. A*Star, Singapore’s Agency for Science, Technology and Research  and NRF, National Research Foundation are involved in scientific research, but also provide funding and support to other institutions for research.

Here are some highlights of both collaborative and institutional activities and trends amongst Singapore’s academic libraries. For practical reasons, I will focus mainly on NUS, NTU, SMU and SUTD.

Collaborative activities amongst Singapore Academic and Research Libraries

Librarians involved in information literacy (IL) from NUS, NTU and SMU Libraries meet regularly to discuss issues affecting information literacy, such as, the roles and responsibilities of Heads of Learning in up skilling Information Literacy librarians and the new ACRL framework and its implementation.  One of the initiatives this group started was to have IL librarians from the three university libraries observe each library’s IL programmes to learn from each other through observation and discussions.  Librarians who attended each other’s IL programmes shared their feedback and learnt from each other. An ACRL Information Literacy Immersion programme was organized by NUS in recent times and librarians from other universities were invited to participate and shared the cost.

A Day in the Life of…..  is a staff development programme jointly organized amongst NUS, NTU, SMU, SUTD, SIM and NIE with the aim of exposing library staff who may not have experience in libraries other their own or may be new graduates to different libraries, colleagues and their ideas, approaches and practices. The programme is run twice a year with three hosts per run and one participant from each institution each time. It is a full day programme where the participants undertake the planning, coordination and organisation of the day at their own libraries. This programme has been running since 2013.

Singapore academic librarians have been collaborating to organise a number of international conferences over the years, for example IATUL 2012, IFLA Congress 2013 and the Joint Business Librarians conference 2016. Some of us will be hosting various satellite conferences prior to the 2018 IFLA Congress in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

Scholarly Communication

NTU, NUS, SMU, NIE and A*Star have all been managing their institutions’ repositories of research publications for many years. NTU, SMU and A*Star have had open access policies or mandates for some time. NTU Library has taken on a leadership role in supporting research data management activities at NTU. The Library has been providing training workshops for faculty and researchers in how to think about their data management needs. SMU Libraries has taken on the role of business owner for SMU’s research publications database which is a module of IRIS (Integrated Research Information System). NTU, NUS SMU and SUTD libraries have been collaboration partners with researchers and research units at their parent institutions in a range of research related initiatives. NTU, NUS, and SMU have co-developed an online Research Data Management guide, adapted locally by each institution. Staff from NTU, NUS, SMU, SUTD and NIE who are involved and interested in research data management meet regularly to exchange information about what they are doing in their respective institutions.

Student, faculty, community engagement

NTU Library Services have rolled out a compulsory Information Literacy for Undergraduates (ILUG) programme integrated into both the foundation and advanced modules across all Schools/Colleges.

All academic libraries in Singapore are involved in implementing a variety of information literacy programmes customized to the needs of specific groups of students, ranging from first year undergraduate to PhD students and faculty.

Singapore, being a highly connected and technologically advanced country, offers many opportunities for libraries to use a variety of technologies, apps and social media channels to engage students. There is a high level of laptop and smart phone ownership amongst Singapore students. Librarians have been experimenting with a variety of media and apps for service offerings, information literacy and communication with students and faculty.

Most academic and research libraries in Singapore offer short to medium term training or internship opportunities to librarians working in Asia Pacific and beyond as part of international collaboration efforts. Study visits to and from libraries in the ASEAN and APAC regions are not uncommon. In fact, librarians in developing countries in the region often come to Singapore to learn from Singapore’s libraries and librarians.

Spaces, buildings, facilities and assessment

After years of planning, SMU’s  Kwa Geok Choo Law Library named after the late Madam Kwa Geok Choo, a lawyer and wife of the late Lee Kuan Yew, the  founding father of Singapore and the mother of the current Prime Minister, Lee Hsien Loong was unveiled by the Prime Minister on March 15, 2017.

NUS, NTU and SMU Libraries have been repurposing and renovating library spaces and facilities on an on-going basis over the years. SUTD, having moved to their new library building recently has been enjoying an innovative library designed to exploit technology for service delivery and enhancement through interactive walls, writable surfaces.

At SMU, over 80% of library staff have been trained in Lean Six Sigma (Green Belt) to create and enhance culture of assessment and innovation amongst staff. 82% of NUS Librarians attended a certified service design thinking course which was focused on understanding, planning and implementing innovative services or products.

Most academic libraries in Singapore use a variety of client satisfaction surveys, benchmarking and assessment methods, such as LibQual, Insync, UX, data analysis, analytics and so on.

It is pleasing to see a steady increase of research papers, conference presentations and other types of publications produced by a growing number of Singapore librarians both in the local and regional fora, but also internationally, considering the size of Singapore. Singapore librarians attend many international conferences, undertake study tours, and participate in committees and working groups of many international professional organisations, such as IFLA, IATUL, PRRLA, LATIN, AUNILO and so on.

Gulcin Cribb
University Librarian
Singapore Management University

Do you speak Library? (if you do, then maybe it’s time to learn a new language)

The University senior administrators world is one of KPIs, analytics and performance indicators, and they are typically focussed only a small number of strategically important issues at any one time – student recruitment, teaching quality, student retention, academic outcomes, research success – it is rarely library services.

Libraries, as we well know, deliver services and manage facilities that make a positive (often critical) contribution to all of the above topics and much more besides. On the face of it, this ought to be a win-win situation, but sometimes it is not because we have a tendency when talking about our achievements and plans for the future to do so using language that is far too modest about our role and impact, and couched in language that is too inward facing.  And this is a problem, because often, our world and the world of the senior administrators are very different and we don’t share a common language. This means we need to become “bi-lingual” – continue to speak library yes, but also be fluent in the language of the Vice Chancellor, Provost, Principal, FD, CFO etc because you can be sure they won’t want to learn library. In my experience, many library managers find this a difficult language to learn.

The story the senior administrator often hears of the library is a negative one; the library is expensive, takes up a lot of valuable real estate, and, if not exactly seen as a blocker or barrier to university developments, is rarely regarded as part of the solution to the bigger institution wide challenges referred to above.

Yet if we were tuned in to their language we would know that what they actually want to hear from us that is we can contribute positively to change, or at the very least, help reduce risk to the institution. We need to be bold and confident, and remind senior staff that we are experts in our field, professional, committed and good at delivering on promises. The challenge is to translate what we often find easiest to describe in terms of input, process and system developments into outputs that be defined in terms of the wider institution – macro not micro level deliverables.

But this is easier said than done. If I were to rank how successful I think libraries are at communicating and engaging with other groups I would probably say we are best at talking to other librarians, next with academics, researchers and students and place senior administrators at the bottom of the pile. And while we want to be good at getting our message across to all the above groups, the one with most strategic importance is the one we are least good at, because if we are not good at that then we reduce our capacity to have anything interesting or positive to say to the other groups!

This is only one aspect of communicating our value of course. The last decade has witnessed significant attention to the challenge of demonstrating value in a measurable/scientific way, and while a lot of progress has been made it still, for most libraries, remains more aspiration than reality. Perhaps understandably we have become increasingly fixated on the importance of this in terms of how we present and demonstrate our value to our parent institutions, but while the search for convincing ‘hard data’ continues, we must not lose sight of ‘just’ being a trusted partner, working at institution level, and operating in a way that senior administrators can relate to.

So the next time you need to develop a new service or safeguard an existing one, tell your senior staff that you have an interesting proposal to help with student retention, or estate space planning or research grant capture or whatever resonates with them at the time and see how the conversation goes!

Mike Berrington

ARL Standing Committee Elections: thirteenth candidate

Thirteenth candidate statement: Marga Koelen.  IFLA Standing Committee elections are currently underway, and the ARL Standing Committee is excited to be welcoming new members. We have invited our candidates to submit short biographies so that those of you who are voting members will have some background in making your selections.

“Science belongs to all of us and should be available to all of us”.  I would be very happy to become a member of the IFLA ARL Standing Committee and to support the idea that everybody can benefit from science progress and their results. Academic and Research Libraries play an important role in the progress of science.  There are many key issues the coming years where we could work together worldwide: open access to scientific publications, access to research data for re-use, open science and all its implications, standardization regarding systems and infrastructure. At the same time, we should realize that open science means open when possible and closed when necessary.  In an open science environment research integrity and research ethics are closely linked.  Academic and Research Libraries have their role in the information society and support the process of knowledge management, which facilitates the knowledge production and utilization and as such Academic and Research Libraries will also contribute to the attainment of the sustainable development goals.

With these ambitions in mind I hope to be selected to join the ACR Standing Committee. My name is Marga Koelen and I work at the University of Twente Library in the Netherlands where I am responsible for Research Support and a member of the LISA (Library, ICT services & Archive) management team.


ARL Standing Committee Elections: twelfth candidate

Twelfth candidate statement: Jonas Ake. IFLA Standing Committee elections are currently underway, and the ARL Standing Committee is excited to be welcoming new members. We have invited our candidates to submit short biographies so that those of you who are voting members will have some background in making your selections.
I am interested  to join the section “academic and research libraries” because firstly I am librarian in this field and secondly I am a holder of a Master’s degree in archival and a license(Bachelor’s degree) in science of the documentary information.  I am a librarian – archivist in office to the Ministry of Culture and the Francophony of Ivory Coast since July, 2011. I am at present in service to the higher National Institute of the Arts and the Cultural action ( I.N.S.A.A.C). This is an institute of university education and a direction(management) of the aforementioned ministry. I adhere to the AIFBD on May 02nd, 2013.
In 2015, I am retained for the program Young Leaders ( ) of Libraries without Borders ( BSF). This program aimed at reinventing the libraries of tomorrow through the strengthening of the public and community libraries of French-speaking Africa in their role of conduct of the innovation and the transformation.
I will be glad to share my experience in this job.


ARL Standing Committee Elections: eleventh candidate

Eleventh candidate statement: Adetoun Oyelude. IFLA Standing Committee elections are currently underway, and the ARL Standing Committee is excited to be welcoming new members. We have invited our candidates to submit short biographies so that those of you who are voting members will have some background in making your selections.

The last seventeen years, I have experienced working in an academic library, Kenneth Dike Library, University of Ibadan, Ibadan, Nigeria; and before that, five years of working in a Special library, the Women’s Research and Documentation Centre (WORDOC) library in Nigeria. It is a plus for me that I can also contribute to library education by teaching cataloguing and classification in the Department of Library, Archival and Information Studies of my University. Being a Visiting Scholar at the LoveJoy Library, Southern Illinois University, Edwardsville (SIUE) for eighteen weeks in 2008, and also attending academic conferences and workshops worldwide has given me international exposure. Though currently in the Organizing Committee of the Women, Information Libraries Special Interest Group (WILSIG) of IFLA for the 2017 IFLA Conference, I have never worked in an ARL Committee. I therefore look forward to working and committing my energy to serving in all capacities that I can, given the opportunity. I enjoy working collaboratively to achieve developmental goals and would be able to further connections and collaborations of Africa with the rest of the world, and also bring ideas forward to make ARL more vibrant. Some of my recent publications are:

Journal Articles:
Oyelude, A. A. 2016. What’s trending in libraries from the internet cybersphere – digital clutter, Library Hi Tech News, 33.2:15-16.

Akullo, W. N. and Oyelude, A. A. (2016). Standing Conference of Eastern, Central, and Southern African Library Associations XXII 2016. International

Thank you.