Networking for Effective Libraries and Information Services Workshop
The RSCAO has just completed a Project three years in the planning but now
most successfully concluded. Networking in the countries of South Asia was
considered to be a most important problem to which resolutions needed to be
found. The Project was conceived by Mr Gakkar [the RSCAO's previous
Chairman] and substantially expanded by Professor Russell Bowden, approved
by the RSCAO and agreed for funding by IFLA's ALP. Organisation was
entrusted to the Sri Lanka Library Association who efficiently organised the
event in a sea-front down-town Colombo hotel from 17 to 23 October.
Almost seventy participants attended from Bangladesh, Bhutan, India,
Maldives, Nepal and Sri Lanka with Resource Persons from Australia, Canada,
Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand, the United Kingdom and the US and with
representatives of IFLA [Prof. Derek Law - IFLA's Hon. Treasurer] and its
Universal Data Transfer [UDT] Core Programme - Terry Kuny.
Much of the work was undertaken in six sessions in four Groups which allowed
all to participate and ideas, and eventually resolutions, to grow naturally
from the considerations of the issues that had been raised in the preceding
papers. The Resolutions, framed under five headings - Networks [5
resolutions], Policy, Planning & Management , Technology , Funding &
Marketing , and Human Resources Development  - are practical and
far-reaching. It is intended that they will be useful not only to the South
Asian countries but also to many others in the RSCAO region, and especially
the smaller island states of Oceania.
Actions from them will be expected to
be initiated by the participants from the South Asian countries [this was
one of the criteria on which they were selected - and they will be asked to
regularly report back progress] and also by the RSCAO when it meets in March
and thence by other parts of IFLA - especially the ALP and UDT Core Programmes.
A final, and personal, observation: some of the contributions were excellent
and the expertise and knowledge brought, by nearly all those involved, have
clearly shown the way forward to 'network' not only using traditional
library and information services and practices and skills but also what
needs to be done to more effectively network, by exploiting to the full, the
new ITs and particularly the Internet.
Most successfully organised by the Sri Lanka LA, whose first major
international conference it was, it marks a new relationship between Lankan
library and information science professionals and the international
community - especially IFLA.
All-in-all an important IFLA initiative to narrow the growing gap between
the information rich and the information poor both within IFLA and within
individual nations. The Resolutions, which follow, are intended as just such
a first step.
IFLA - RSCAO sponsored and IFLA - ALP financed and Sri Lanka Library
17 to 23 October 1999. Colombo. Sri Lanka
These Resolutions are directed to all organisations [ eg. international and
regional agencies, national governments, local authorities,
parent-organisations, professional bodies and companies in the private
sector] with responsibilities for libraries and information services and
that have interests in creating an effective Information Society.
- Librarians and information professionals and their services are already
helping to build the Information Society within the countries of South Asia.
Continuous development of these skilled resources in librarians and their
library services will further benefit national development.
- The Government must recognise the role of librarians and information
professionals in building an information society for the development of the
- The most cost-effective investment the government can make to develop the
Information Society is through the fullest involvement of librarians and
information professionals and the modernisation of their services in order
to become effective change agents in the information society.
- Librarianship should emphasise the following areas:
- leadership in information literacy;
- provision of IT facilities to the community eg. mobile outreach
- provision of community information services eg. to medium & small
- information at the doorstep;
- income generation programmes & activities.
- The information society is built on a foundation of collaboration and
communication enabled by human and electronic networks.
- The establishment of specialised and multi-type library networks in the
countries of South Asia at state, national and regional levels is essential
and should be supported by governments, national and international agencies.
- Library and information networks should become the backbone of a learning
- Organisations have a responsibility to ensure that library and
information networks are as comprehensively available as other public
utilities and provided at reasonable cost.
- Librarians must develop strong and sustainable working relatonships with
other specialists to develop collaboration for promoting and modernising
library services in their countries.
- Each country in South Asia should develop its own national policy for
libraries and information services with due emphasis on the networking of
- A national centre should be identified or established in each country to
monitor and co-ordinate the development of library networking in the country
and in the region which should be nurtured and supported by IFLA.
- International and local professional associations should promote the
development of professional library communities through networking - such
as the creation and local moderation of electronic discussion lists.
- All types of library services in South Asia, especially public and school
libraries, need to be enhanced and modernised to keep pace with the
development, and to meet the challenges, of the Information Society.
- IFLA's Regional Standing Committee for Asia & Oceania [RSCAO], or any
other body, should convene meetings of interested parties to consider the
creation of a regional consortium as an interested community emerges. This
should act as a catalyst to develop leadership champions for:
- creating a culture of sharing;
- developing policies and guidelines;
- encouraging collaboration with industry;
- developing regional consortia for licensing and procurement.
- International standards should be adopted by libraries to facilitate the
exchange of information within the country and globally and to encourage the
development of inter-operable systems.
- In the modernisation of libraries international bibliographic standards,
in particular MARC, AACR2, specialised thesauri and national authority
databases should be adopted.
- Libraries can effectively function as centres to provide for public access
to electronic information and therefore should be given priority in getting
Internet and other communication facilities.
- IFLA's Regional Standing Committee for Asia and Oceania [RSCAO] should
create a database of funding sources.
- The RSCAO should encourage more workshops with all potential partners on
project planning, fund-raising and marketing, value added services, writing
successful project proposals.
- Librarians and information professionals must build up databases of
- Librarians and information professionals must market their services to
the private sector for sponsorship and support.
- Librarians and information professionals must form lobby groups to foster
support from all sections of society.
- Organisations operating libraries and information services must be
encouraged to develop education and training to enable librarians to
undertake their professional development continuously throughout their
careers eg. in information management, library networking, library
standards, content creation, effective communication, information
- Library associations, academic institutions and other organisations
should develop Continuing Professional Develpment [CPD] programmes to allow
librarians to enhance skills and develop core professional competences for
the management of electronic resources eg. leadership in information
infrastructure-building, data management, electronic library management,
needs assessment etc.
- Library authorities in each country should create a suitable environment
and provide incentives to motivate library professionals to take up
continuing professional education in order to become effective change agents
in the information society.
- The appropriate authorities must recognise that the teaching of
librarianship and information science [LIS] requires the provision of IT
workshops equipped with up-to-date hardware and software and Internet
- Recognising the increasingly interdisciplinary nature of LIS studies, LIS
Departments should work with other disciplines to ensure that the curriculum
is broadly based.
- LIS Departments and national library associations should work towards the
establishment of systems of professional accreditation supported, where
relevant, by an international professional organisation.
- Curricula of LIS departments should be revised to integrate IT
applications and library networking as significant components.
- Delegates from each country to approach appropriate bodies to implement
the above resolutions.
- Proceedings and reports to be posted on IFLANET.
- Create an e-mail list for delegates.
The above Resolutions were Agreed and Adopted by consensus on 21 October '99
by more than seventy Workshop participants from Bangladesh, Bhutan, India,
Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Australia, Canada, Malaysia,
Singapore, Thailand, United Kingdom and United States [including
Representatives of IFLA and its Regional Standing Committee for Asia and
Oceania and its Advancement of Librarianship and Universal Data Transfer
Core Programmes] under the Chairmanship of Professor Russell Bowden.
Russell Bowden. Honorary IFLA Fellow.
Chairman. Resolutions Plenary Session.
21 October 1999.