This year’s Cambridge Asia Librarians’ Day was kindly hosted by the Universiti Kebangsaan in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, and attended by almost 100 librarians from every part of the country.

The broad theme of the conference was The Role of Libraries in Research Advancement. Delegates were welcomed by Pn Hafsah Mohd, Chief Librarian at the University, and Mr Ryoji Fukada, Chairman of Cambridge University Press, Asia. Mrs Sarah Thompson, Head of Content at York University, who was the guest speaker, talked about Open Access in the UK, setting the scene for the rest of the day.

Universiti Kebangsaan, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

In her keynote speech, Pn Hafsah Mod said that the adoption of Open Access in developing countries was slow, but scholars in these countries are very interested in the practices evolving in the US and the UK. A small but growing number of Asian libraries are becoming involved in harvesting and collating research data, and an increasing number of Asian libraries are setting up Institutional Repositories.

Professor Srijit Das, from the Department of Anatomy at the Universiti Kebangsaan, spoke on the Role of the University Library from the Researchers’ Perspective. He said that the main requirement of researchers was, of course, to be able to access the information they need quickly and easily. But he also praised the recent introduction of workshops for researchers, but said these were too infrequent and some were marred by participating publishers who came ‘only to push their products’ (CUP was honourably excluded from this criticism). He said that the concept of the Library as service provider was outdated: Library staff should regard themselves as Faculty members, with an integral role to play in research.

University of Hong Kong

Mrs Gayle Chan, Head of Collection Development at the University of Hong Kong Library, talked about Value Metrics. She said that her library ranks itself against the ARL (Association of Research Libraries of US and Canada) median figures for expenditure on library materials. Currently it ranks just below the median. It also assesses itself via the ‘Snowball Metrics’ benchmarking tool, developed by eight UK research libraries. Overall, the University is judged on four major outputs:

• Numbers of publications by its academics
• Numbers of citations per paper
• Field-weighted citation impact factors
• Its dissemination and consultation capabilities

Increasingly, libraries in the region have to produce metrics intended to show the financial value of their acquisitions, as well as demonstrate their academic impact value by linking use of acquisitions to research and learning outcomes.

National University of Singapore

Mrs Lee Cheng Ean, University Librarian of the National University of Singapore, took as her subject How the Scholarly Communications Committee Supports Researchers’ Workflows at the University.
The Library is involved in helping academics to deliver research, both by developing collections and by advising them on aspects of publishing. The research landscape is changing rapidly and there is an increase in support for Open Access. Funding agencies are requiring researchers to submit their publications to OA repositories and there is increasing need to communicate with the academic community, by organising workshops on how to get published and how to ensure ‘research visibility’. The bibliometrics team is very active in helping authors, by conducting training sessions.

Key themes that emerged from the day’s debates were:

• Many Asian librarians are implementing workshops and other types of training to help their authors write, promote and disseminate their work.

• Typically, Asian libraries are still some way behind the USA and Europe in their development of Open Access and Institutional Repositories, but are catching up.

• Rigorous value measurement and benchmarking tools have been instituted by some of the top Asian libraries. Although also based on Western prototypes, sometimes these processes are being carried out more thoroughly than in the West.

In the picture, from left: The Petronas Towers, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Mr Steven Chong, Head of Market Development, CUP Asia, and Mrs Gayle Chan, Head of Collection Development, University of Hong Kong


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