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Pak-LIS News
June 2001, Vol. 1, No.3

 

Contents

Editorial
Use of Electronic Media. Library and Information Education
Articles

Information Studies Curriculum Based on Competency Definition
From Space -and Document-Centered to Access-and Information-Centered Approach
Definition and Validation of Needed Competencies of Academic Librarians in Pakistan
New Directions in Information Studies Curriculum

Professional Activities

PLA, Punjab Branch holds a Discussion on Library Problems
The Role of PLA in the Development of Library Profession

Professional News

Library Entry Fee
Library Reborn

Personal Announcements

Congratulations
Abdul Salam Gets ISN Grant to Visit the World Bank(HQ), Washington
Mr. Manzoor Ahmad Khan Anjum visits United States

Guest Editorial

Use of Electronic Media

Dr. Sajjad ur Rehman Professor, Library and Information Science Kuwait University

Use of Electronic Media We were all quite pleased about the formation of a professional forum of Pakistan Library Automation Group. Some of use were keen to see if the group could launch some electronic utilities that could become effective media for professional development and exchange. When the directory database was launched over the Web, many of us felt that we were about to have meaningful use of the IT for the professional community. Launching of discussion group and electronic newsletter were the two successive steps, quite logical in the sequence, where we took some genuine pride in having persuaded the responsible officers of the PLAG to undertake these initiatives.

We take satisfaction in the fact that it is the third issue of the electronic newsletter coming out on a regular basis. It is quite a welcome sign. Concurrently, the discussion group has also evolved. Some of us have been closely watching these developments. While having the feeling of a sense of accomplishment, at least in seeding these ideas, a great deal of confusion has also surrounded the utilitarian value of these facilities. Some questions are pertinent to be addressed:

  1. How many of the subscribers are scanning the content of the newsletter?
  2. What is the real potential of this medium for any professional development?
  3. If we raise any serious academic or professional issues through this medium, is the community of professionals and educators prepared to reflect on them in an objective and insightful manner?
  4. What might be the additional avenues for an intelligent use of these media?

While it is important to seek answers for these questions, we also need to view the situation from another angle. We have noted, with a great deal of dismay, that content, substance, quality, style, and ethical orientation of so many messages posted to the discussion group defy the norms of self-discipline, mutual respect and decency, not to speak of professionalism. So many of us might have seriously thought of un-subscribing so as to save ourselves from unnecessary mental torture. In the view of many of us, it might be better not to have a forum that causes more dissension and less integration. We may just use the directory to address any questions to selected members of the group. Or we may just have all the messages routed through a filter and the selected messages are posted that concern the general professional community.

We believe that we must address these questions before it is too late to rectify these problems. [Contents]

Library and Information Education

Library and Information Education We had intended to produce a substantial issue of the newsletter on library and information education in Pakistan. For this purpose, we had sent a request to all the academics in the country through PLAG discussion group, soliciting their input. We were requesting descriptive write-ups and position-essays based on the insights of academics. These were not expected to be the results of any serious academic research. It is just to share with the professionals at large that we did not receive any response to the request from any quarter. Indeed it dampened the sentiment of putting up any effort of substance.

Absence of answers to the questions we have raised in the preceding note about the use of these electronic media were the additional inhibitors. What we had thought that we would get the input of experts, serving in Singapore and Kuwait, about how they are teaching in different areas of information studies. This way we will provide insightful models for the instruction of 10-15 courses, containing a number of core and quite a few elective courses. Each model was expected to have rationale and need of a particular course and how would it fit in the overall scheme of coursework in a school. Additional elements were related to objectives of the course, description, topical outline, teaching methodology, course requirements (exercises, assignments, papers, projects, etc.), schedule/timeline used for the coverage of topics, and relevant readings for each topic. Indeed similar syllabi are available through a number of Web sites of the schools. Yet we thought that any such effort would be valuable, as it would have a systematic and consistent treatment. We were able to collect basic documentation of about13 courses from four instructors. However, it was realized that it might be little or no use of any such exercise, considering lack of any response from the community to our request and many problems evident from the discussion group. We are still committed to edit and publish these materials, electronically or in hard form, if there is an expression of interest from the educators if they would find it useful.

We have been able to provide the essence of results of two studies in this issue. The first one deals with identification and validation of competencies for academic libraries in Pakistan by Khalid Mahmood. The second study, conducted by Sajjad ur Rehman, is based on a survey of the academics of three regions of North America, East Asia and Arabian Gulf about the competency segments they would like to be included in the curriculum. This study has provided a small core of ten segments and also those segments that are appropriate for elective treatment. Many leading schools in the developed world have already designed their curricula along these lines. It is pertinent for our schools to examine how could they benefit from the results of this exercise. Detailed results of the studies are being presented in a conference in Kuala Lumpur in June 2001 and would appear in international journals.

Hamid Saeed has introduced the Division of Information Studies of the Nanyang Technological University in his write-up. Since this Division is offering degree programs that are considered to be the pioneering and trend-setters, it is worthwhile for the educators and professionals to examine this description.

There are a number of areas that require analysis and discussion by experts. These include faculty credentials and contributions, facilities and resources, administrative aspects such as admission, graduation requirements, etc. We still believe that an analytical review of these aspects is needed. The academics in the library schools should come forward and work in these areas.

Transforming the traditional library education into information education is quite a challenge. It requires a multi-pronged effort at many levels. It is a long process, but we need to take the first step in the direction. Another important point is that it is a continuous process and no effort at any stage should e treated as the target achieved. Needless to day that the community of educators has to work together to meet this challenge. Only that change is effective that comes from within by capitalizing on the indigenous resources.

There are a number of factors that inhibit any progress toward revision and redesign of these academic programs. Attitudinal hang-ups are the strongest change resistors. We tend to be overly defensive in justifying titles and labels we having been using under the rubric of 'information science.' Adding a couple of courses here and there and making some adjustments in the 30-year old curriculum is more cosmetic than carrying any substance. However, we find a lot of rhetoric in self-defense. That does not help. I remember that in one of the recent seminars, a number of educators made comments as if they were at the forefront of information technology applications. However, one of the heads of departments was quite forthcoming in recognizing the inherent weaknesses in the system and admitting that nothing worthwhile had been accomplished. Our recent graduates have been the staunchest critics as they find themselves deficient in the basic capabilities in this area.

Recent policy initiatives in the public sector about the use of IT are having their effect. Many departments of library and information science have been provided computing facilities with Internet access. These universities are quite willing to provide additional resources needed for instruction or application. It is the real test for the educators. If they take it as an opportunity, they may spearhead the transformation process. But if it is perceived as a threat to the status quo, lag-time would further expand. And it is never easy to make up for the lost opportunities.

Do we have the will and sense of commitment to take the first step in this direction? [Contents]

Articles

Information Studies Curriculum Based on Competency Definition

Dr. Sajjad ur Rehman Professor, Library and Information Science Kuwait University

It is recognized that graduate programs of information studies are experiencing a constant shift in their offerings and the content thrust of their degrees. It is also widely understood that traditional structures of core and elective coursework are being reconfigured for the electronic environment. New social and technological imperatives have made it evident that diversity in academic programs and content is going to be a norm rather than an exception. The exercise of curriculum design and revision is a continuous process in the current information dynamism. Market needs, expressed through employer perceptions and practitioner input, have been among the determinant factors in this exercise. The academics, responsible for curriculum design, are assumed to have the knowledge and insight to examine market needs and translate them into curricular modules of instruction. [Full Text] [Contents]

From Space -and Document-Centered to Access-and Information-Centered Approach : A Transformation in Information Resource Development

Dr. Mumtaz A. Anwar, Professor, Kuwait University

During the past 30 years we have gradually moved forward from mere ‘book selection’ to ‘collection development’, to ‘collection management’, and now on to ‘content management’.  This shift has not been easy to adjust to, but it has already happened and has become a part of our professional discourse.  During the last 10 years or so, the world of information has also been transformed by mind-boggling information technology developments, a drastic change in the patterns of scholarly communication, overwhelming growth in the volume of information being generated, and a refreshing variety in the formats of packages containing information.  These developments have even changed the role of the traditional information user.  He has become, in addition to a growing formal information infrastructure, a creator, a publisher, a provider, and a user at the same time.[Full Text] [Contents]

Definition and Validation of Needed Competencies of Academic Librarians in Pakistan

Khalid Mahmood, Lecturer, Department of Library and Information Science, University of the Punjab, Lahore

With a growth of 100 to 200 percent during last 20 years, presently there are 43 universities and about 1600 general, professional and vocational colleges in Pakistan (Pakistan. Finance Division, 2000). A library with professionally qualified staff is a legal requirement to be established in an educational institution. Therefore, each university or college, both in the public or private sectors, does have a library with necessary facilities and at least one qualified librarian. Post-graduate (post-bachelor one or two year qualification) library and information science education is a pre-requisite for the position of librarian throughout the country. Academic libraries appear to be primary consumer of the graduates of library and information science departments in the seven universities that offer education in the field. [Full Text] [Contents]

New Directions in Information Studies Curriculum

Hamid Saeed

Division of Information Studies, School of Computer Engineering, Nanyang Technological University, Singapore

The MSc (Information Studies) program at the Division of Information Studies, School of Computer Engineering, Nanyang Technological University, was established in 1993 as an evening part-time program. The initial program was intended to provide a generic degree enabling graduates to work in a wide range of information intensive environments, but more specifically in a library and information service environment. Students took six core courses and two elective courses. This was eventually changed to four core courses and four electives in 1998, and three core courses and six electives and a project for which a dissertation is submitted in 2000. [Full Text] [Contents]

PROFESSIONAL ACTIVITIES

PLA, Punjab Branch holds a Discussion on Library Problems

The Pakistan Library Association, Punjab Branch organized a discussion on the library problems on May 4, 2001. The discussion was held at the American Consulate, Lahore in collaboration with the Consulate Information Resource Center and the Urdu daily Jang. The discussants included: Prof. Afzal Haq Qarshi, Department of Library Science, Punjab University; Mohammad Aslam Mujahid, American Information Resource Center, Islamabad; Ch. Muhammad Hanif, Punjab University Library; Zil-e-Hasnain Alvi, Punjab Public Library, Lahore; Nusrat Ali Athir, Punjab Public Library; Farah Naz Cheema, Fatima Jinnah Medical College, Lahore; Rubina Ayub, The British Council, Lahore; Mohammad Nazir, Curriculum Research and Development Center, Lahore; Akhtar Naseer Waraich, Government Science College, Lahore; Mohammad Asif Khan, Government Islamia College, Railway Road, Lahore; Mohammad Ramzan, Lahore University of Management Sciences; Manzoor A.K. Anjum, U.S. Information Resource Center, Lahore; and Muhammad Asghar, U.S. Information Resource Center, Lahore. Mr. Rauf Zafar represented the daily Jang. The participants highlighted various problems faced by libraries. The daily Jang will carry a special feature highlighting these problems. [Contents]

The Role of PLA in the Development of Library Profession

A seminar was held on the Role of PLA in the Development of Library Profession in Sindhi Language Authority, Hyderabad, Sindh. Dr. A. R. Butt, Chairman, Department of Library and Information Science, University of Sindh, Jamshoro presided and Mr. R. A. Samdani, Secretary, PLA Sindh was the Chief Guest. It was organized by the PLA Hyderabad Region. [Contents]

Professional News

Library Entry Fee

It seems that little consideration is given to the repercussions of certain public r policies for poor citizens. Libraries in the backward areas are a source of knowledge for the needy population who cannot afford to buy reading material. The District (Allama Iqbal) Library Muzaffargarh is the only facility of its kind in the whole district. The Corpse Commander Bahawalpur has issued instructions to the local district administration to impose an entry fee to this library, effectively blocking out the student community and other reading enthusiasts of this poor area. This step just aggravates the current high rate of illiteracy level in the country (Muhammad Kalim in daily The Nation, May 10, 2001). [Contents]

Library Reborn

The daily DAWN, May 11, 2001 published an attractive photograph of the Alexandria Library on its page 13 and wrote: "The Bibliotheca Alexandria", a rebirth of the famed library which burned to the grounds 1,600 years ago, will open its doors in April next year, with the aim of relighting a beacon of knowledge on Egypt's Mediterranean coast. Work has just finished on the vast facility which sits among modern apartment blocks on the shore here. Arab states have provided 65 million dollars and 26 other countries have given 31.5 million dollars to the project, which is also being financed by the Egyptian government, UNESCO and UNDP. [Contents]

Personal Announcements

Congratulations

To the following for performing Hajj:

1. Sain Muhammad Malik, President, Pakistan Library Association--Headquarters, Peshawar.

2. Mr. Mohammad Iqbal, Librarian, Faisal Shaheed Library, Engineering University, Lahore.

3. Malik Muhammad Siddique, Deputy Chief Librarian, Punjab University Library.

Abdul Salam Gets ISN Grant to Visit the World Bank(HQ), Washington

Mr. Abdul Salam, Electronic Resource Librarian, the World Bank, Islamabad has been awarded an ISN (International Solution network) Grant to visit the World Bank(HQ), Washington. He is presenting a paper " Information products prodoced by Abdul Salam" and participating a JOLIS training programme. He will also visit Library of Congress and other local libraries. The visit of UK libraries is also in his schedual. He would be back on June 22, 2001.

Mr. Manzoor Ahmad Khan Anjum visits United States

Mr. Manzoor Ahmad Khan Anjum, Deputy Director, The U.S. Information Resource Center, Lahore is visiting the United States on a training program from May 19 to June 14. During this visit he will also participate in the 92nd Special Libraries Association (SLA) Annual Conference, San Antonio, TX, USA, June 9-14, 2001

 

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