What I have learnt from all the visits.
After visiting a total of 7 different information agencies over 2 weeks in October 2011, I realized that regardless of the nature and scale, all the libraries have the same goal of supporting their stakeholders (students, faculty and staff) with the necessary teaching and learning information and research resources. The needs of end-user or stakeholders play a key role in influencing the collection and services provided.
For educational libraries, be it school or universities, the primary aim is to ensure that the core readings and resources for the curriculum are readily available. All other print, non-print, digital and e-Resources related to the curriculum or faculty are developed to expand and enrich the stakeholders’ knowledge in their respective field of studies or interests. The Arts, Media and Design library and the LaSalle College of Arts Library for instance, focus on developing Arts related collection while that of National Institute of Education Library focuses on educational and pedagogical resources to support the needs of trainee and experienced teachers. Except for the Archives, it is interesting to note that, most other libraries are channeling more budget towards digital and eResources (eBooks, e-Journals, eDatabases, e Archives, e Media). All information agencies are also actively tapping on the Internet and ICT to deliver information 24/7. Except for the National Archives, all other libraries visited are already harnessing Web 2.O tools of one kind or another. Blogs and Facebook are the two most popular Web 2.O tools used. Four Institutes of Higher Learning or IHLs namely Temasek Polytechnic, S’pore Management University, National Institute of Education and Art, Design and Media library@NTU have started using smartphones to deliver library services such as access to the library catalogue, loan, renewal, access to library account and promotion of new arrivals. Library on-the-go apps have been developed or provided by library automation systems to bring the library resources closer to the end-users. Through the library study visits, I noted that the larger libraries, in view of the sheer size of their collection and the number of end-users, the library staff have greater opportunity to specialize in some specific area of work such as cataloging, acquisition, website maintenance and instructional role. Librarians in smaller libraries have to assume multiple roles and also to multitask in order to manage the library operations. I also learnt that the larger libraries have also started outsourcing manpower to maintain the state of orderliness of the library. There are external agencies that provide shelving services to such libraries after library closure at night.
Overall, the library study visits have been an enriching and enlightening learning journey. Besides on-site learning about library management, provision of reference and instructional cum research services, the visit has provided exposure to a host of interesting library physical environments. Many of the larger IHL libraries are either planning or are in the midst of transforming library spaces into new learning and knowledge commons to facilitate group collaboration work and learning. The visits have also provided opportunities for me to meet up with many people in the library fraternity. Such a network of library professionals is precious as I could tap on their experience and expertise to guide me in my own area of responsibilities in the future.