National Institute of Education (NIE) Library
DATE : 19Oct 2011 (Wed)  TIME: 11.00-3.00pm

I visited the NIE Library located in the Nanyang Technological University Campus  on the 19th Oct (Wed) and was warmly received by Mrs Yeoh-Wan Seok Kwan, the Library Director.

Learning points
Through Mrs Yeoh’s sharing and guided tour, I learnt that the NIE library aspires to be the largest teachers’ training institute library in South East Asia with a primary focus on educational and pedagogical resources and collection.

The library is currently in the midst of being renovated to further enhance their information commons and learning commons. The NIE library is one of the earliest academic library that had conceptualized features of learning and information commons some ten year ago, even before the terms have been coined.  The library had already put in place a beautiful Café with comfortable furniture which allow for flexible furniture arrangement that facilitates collaboration work over a cup of coffee or meal. See powerpoint slides of the existing facilities below. An internet lounge and other interesting collaborative space that appeals to the users were tastefully set up some ten years ago. The library will undergo further upgrading work in the coming months to refresh and recreate a 21st century library with Library 2.0 features.
Goals and users
The NIE library’s mission is to provide quality and relevant information resources and services that will promote excellence in teacher education and educational research. Besides that, the library also aims to meet the needs of the education professionals in the Ministry of Education, schools and other educational institutions. The Library Director shared on the library’s aspiration to be the largest teachers’ training institute library in South East Asia focusing primarily on educational pedagogy and research resources. This is in support of the various teacher education programmes at diploma, undergraduate and postgraduate levels. The library resources are also to cater to other professional development programmes and courses.

The collection
The library has a collection size of close to about 400,000 print materials and subscribes to about 1,000 journals related to education. Unique to this library is a collection of resources specially catered for teacher trainees such as Big Books, Children and Young Adults’ collection and Singapore Education Resources. Other education papers, theses, dissertations, instructional materials, question banks, test collection, assessment exercises cum print and electronic databases are also available for users of the library. The library’s main focus is to build a niche collection of resources in the field of education.  Although the current predominant media is about 70% print with 30% non-print, the ratio is rapidly changing with greater focus now being given to building the electronic and digital collection. This is in view of the ready availability of resources such as eBooks, eJournals and eDatabases. The other advantange being its 24/7 accessibility. The library is highly dependent on the NIE portal as well as the integrated Library Management System and Digital Repository portal to promote the library’s e-resources 24/7. They have also adopted SirsiDynix BookMyne™ an iPhone app, to reach out to the end-users. However, print resources especially in-house publications such as theses, dissertations and other publications are being actively digitized. Resources are selected based on BOA, publishers’ alerts as well as input from faculty members and this is usually aligned closely to the course curriculum. Older editions and books in very poor conditions are also weeded periodically to be replaced with new copies or editions.

The library has about 30 staff members comprising professional librarians, para-professionals, IT and technical officers. The professional librarians aid in cataloguing, acquisition, referencing as well as assume instructional roles. Both the para professional, IT and technical staff provide critical support so that the library can operate efficiently and effectively to meet the needs of the students and faculty.

Reference Service & User Education
Reference staff provides assistance in reference and user education services such as information and database searches through traditional face to face reference service at the counter as well as through email,  FaceBook and blogs. The instructional librarian works closely with small groups to conduct information and research skills classes together with faculty staff. The NIE library is heavily dependent on the Internet and Web 2.0 tools to promote library information resources and actively harnesses  Blogs, Facebook, RSS feeds and mobile apps to facilitate information access 24/7.

Network & IT Infrastructure
The library is currently using the SirsiDynix  Integrated Library system for key library modules such as cataloguing, serials and acquisition. One of the interesting feature offered is the SirsiDynix BookMyne™ iPhone application which offers on-the-go library users with many convenient library functions. Aside from mobile access to in-demand library information, holdings and services, BookMyne offers patron value added functions such as barcode scanning capability, social recommendation engine and enhanced accounts functions.

Despite the current conducive physical library set up with a well designed Café and extensive group collaboration facilities, the NIE library’s attempt to further enhance the information and learning commons is testimony to the importance of transforming the library into user-centered learning common where participation in the creation of content is highly encouraged and promoted. The focus on harnessing Web 2.0 tools and mobile apps to deliver library services and resources have gathered momentum in the NIE library as well as in many other bigger academic libraries.