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Copyright © 1998, MCB UP Limited
Coordinated by Margaret Butterworth
Articles about libraries and information management in Asia and the Pacific region are not plentiful in the mainstream literature. This column is designed to alert you to some of the most interesting journal literature specific to the region, as well as more general articles relevant to information professionals working in Asia and the Pacific.
Agre, P., "The Internet and Public Discourse", First Monday, Vol. 3 No. 3, 2 March 1998.
Argues that the confusion about how to manage legal and political expectations in cyberspace is due to faulty understanding of the new medium. It is actually a "meta-medium", a set of layered services that built from flexible elements, with properties that change to meet the needs of each author. To grasp legitimate legal and political concerns more adequately, we need to start afresh and map the meta-medium in terms of legal theories and social conventions that capture its method of operation.
Arsky, J.M. and Cherny, A.I., "The Ethno-Cultural Linguistic and Ethical Problems of the 'Infosphere'", International Information and Library Review, Vol. 29 No. 2, June 1997, pp. 251-60.
In order to extend cooperation among the peoples of the world on the basis of information exchanges, an effort must be made to resolve sensitive issues involved in mutual understanding between peoples belonging to different cultures and speaking different languages. This will not come about if the tendency for some languages and cultures to dominate others is allowed to persist. A long-term international programme of action is needed to preserve cultural diversity and multilingualism in the preservation by means of the appropriate media of the cultural heritage of peoples with no written language; the development of computer translation systems; extension of the study of the most widely spoken languages in secondary and higher education; the elaboration and adoption of general ethical standards for the writing, reviewing and citing of scientific publications, particularly articles in periodicals; the elaboration of agreed scientific terminology in different languages; the development of cooperation on the inclusion of national literature in international databases; the devising of ways and means of protecting the infosphere from pollution. Given the worldwide importance of such action, it would be appropriate to conduct it under the auspices of UNESCO and of the International Council of Science Unions, as was done in the late 1960s and early 1970s for the UNISIST programme.
Beall, J., "Guaranteed Hits", College & Research Libraries News, Vol. 59 No. 3, March 1998, pp. 160-2.
Provides tips on how to index a site for search engines to ensure that it will be retrieved by a greater number of Web searchers. Among the suggested strategies are: visit the major search engines and look for the "Add URL" button or its equivalent, design a site in a way that increases the likelihood of its being indexed accurately, use the Dublin Core (a block of data in standard form that provides information about a site in a way that is recognised by search engines), catalogue the site not only for one's own online catalogue but also in one of the major bibliographic utilities, seek out specialised search engines that focus on a particular discipline and then look for the "Add URL" button.
Belcic, Deborah D. et al., "Using Transaction Log Analysis to Improve OPAC Retrieval Results", College & Research Libraries, Vol. 59 No. 1, 1998, pp. 39-50.
This OPAC transaction analysis study compared data derived from two sets of logs within a six-month period. Analysis of the first two sets of data revealed that users experienced difficulty with basic searching techniques. The OPAC introductory screens were simplified and clarified to help users improve search success rates. The second set of data, analysed after screen changes had been made, showed statistically significant differences in search results. Regular monitoring of OPACs through transaction log analysis can lead to improved retrieval when changes are made in response to analysis of user search patterns.
Byrne, A., "CAUL's Interest in Performance Measurement", Australian Academic & Research Libraries, Vol. 28 No. 4, 1997, pp. 252-8.
The Council of Australian University Librarians (CAUL) has a longstanding commitment to measurement of academic library performance, demonstrated in the annual statistical compilation published in Australian Academic & Research Libraries. This has now been extended with the publication of the first three CAUL Performance Indicators: the Library/clientele Congruence (i.e. satisfaction) Indicator developed by Cornish and Gorman, Charles Sturt University; the Document Delivery Quality Indicator developed by Novak and Robertson, Queensland University of Technology; and the Proportion of Sought Material Obtained at Time of Visit developed by Taylor and Hiscock, University of South Australia. All have sold well and have been applied in a number of Australian university libraries. This paper discusses that experience and explores future directions.
Chiang K., "The Delphi Technique for Personnel and Budget Allocation", Libri, Vol. 47 No. 4, 1997, pp. 256-60.
Presents a case study in which the Delphi technique is applied to utilise expert judgement in systematically allocating personnel and budget for a university library in Taiwan. Anonymous group decision via the Delphi method, on one hand, reduced the dean's bias in making a personal decision and, on the other hand, eliminated the dominance of some powerful heads in group discussions. Consequently, the consensus of the panel of experts has not only accomplished a more convincing allocation than before, but has also saved 3.5 FTE and NT$520,000. As the budgets of most libraries are increasing at a slower pace than that of the expenses, the Delphi technique has been demonstrated to be an effective method for resource allocation.
Libri, Vol. 47 No. 13, 1997, pp. 9-146.
Overseas consultants come and go in Malaysia, and it is often difficult for them to cross the cultural divide. Rarely do they write such a candid report on their experience as this one. Margaret Child was engaged as a Fulbright Consultant and spent 3 months in 1996 assisting the National Library of Malaysia to develop a preservation policy. She was surprised at the widespread ignorance of basic preservation procedures which are now commonplace in the West, the lack of trained staff and the inability of the staff with responsibility for preservation to convince planners and managers of the need to control temperature and humidity 24 hours a day. Most of all, she found difficulty in adjusting to the authoritarian style of management and the lack of opportunity for collegial discussion, believing that for a new policy to be successful, it would have to be endorsed and "owned" at grassroots level. Perhaps she has missed the point. In Asia it is still the job of managers to issue policy directives and the duty of employees to carry these out! Her comments about resistance to change within the Malaysian library profession are food for thought for anyone working in the region.
D'Avigdor, R., "Indispensable or Indifferent? The Reality of Information Service Performance Measurement at UNSW Library", Australian Academic & Research Libraries, Vol. 28 No. 4, 1997, pp. 264-80.
This paper discusses practical aspects of measuring service performance in an academic library. It outlines the local indicators developed and used in the Social Sciences and Humanities Library at the University of New South Wales in two main areas of activity, the information service enquiry desk and information skills programme. It lists both quantitative and qualitative measures of information service used. The difficulties in acquiring, processing and analysing the results of information service evaluative activities are discussed. The paper outlines the utility of such information, and proposes a meta-indicator that relates the resources needed to develop and maintain these indicators to the overall library effort in producing the services measured, and also relates the effort involved in developing these indicators to their direct use in library decision-making processes.
Dickstein, R. and McBride, K.B., "Listserv Lemmings and Fly-brarians on the Wall: A Librarian-Instructor Team Taming the Cyberbeast in the Large Classroom", College & Research Libraries, Vol. 59 No. 1, 1998, pp. 10-17.
Shows how reference librarians and academics can jointly teach research strategies and thinking skills (including analysis and evaluation of resources) in the lecture or seminar room through careful use of a list (e-mail forum) and focused research assignments. Such strategies revolutionise the ways in which reference librarians do their work, increasing the interaction with students by overcoming students' reluctance to seek help and their fear of computerised sources. Librarian, teacher and student become partners in the creation and dissemination of scholarly information.
Dybkyaer, L., "Libraries and Information in Human Development", IFLA Journal, Vol. 23 No. 5/6, 1997, pp. 343-7.
Explores the opportunities offered by new information technologies and suggests that successful solutions depend on how new opportunities offered by IT to create an open democracy are exploited. Technology should not be left to an elite group. Development must build on the values and principles on which our society is based. The author concludes with a list of IT issues which libraries must address, including a determined effort to include those groups which have not traditionally been using information services; improved methods of communication and high-speed data transmission; security issues; the free and rapid flow of a country's data nationally and internationally; the development of a multilingual programme for automatic transmission; the issue of Internet censorship; and the considerable process of readjustment for library personnel.
Elliott, R., "The Impact of Electronic Publishing on the Scientific Information Chain", IFLA Journal, Vol. 23 No. 5/6, 1997, pp. 351-5.
In order to be effective the scientific information chain has always needed intermediaries author, publisher, agent, librarian and user; but these roles are changing, and the scientific information is in crisis. The system must be modified, and electronic publishing provides a plausible answer. Elliott reports on the ICSU/UNESCO Conference of Experts on Electronic Publishing in Science (Paris 1996), which approved a series of recommendations. The author identifies costs and benefits, and stresses that models for the use of electronically stored journals must be developed. Of particular concern to librarians are maintaining a proper archive of electronic material, and the legislative framework and how electronic publications will fit into international regulatory regimes.
Ferreiro, S., "Dealing with Diversity and Digital Culture", International Information and Library Review, Vol. 29 No. 2, June 1997, pp. 237-45.
Cultural diversity is broader than ethnic and language considerations alone. It includes gender, age, economic or social conditions, education, technological infrastructure and computer and information literacy. All of these have to be taken into account when digital information is received or provided. Understanding and respecting diversity in each country is a major issue for the country itself, as well as for the information providers from abroad. The main barriers for participating in the digital culture for Latin America are the differences of each of the countries: the few people that have access; the technological infrastructure; the lack of relevant contents in the primary languages; and the fact that English is the predominant language of the Global Information Infrastructure. Nations should focus on three main areas: technological infrastructure, contents and access.
Herrara, L.A. and Rodriguez Pereyra, R., "Review of the Management Literature 1996", IFLA Journal, Vol. 23 No. 5/6, 1997, pp. 371-80.
This review identifies fields within the large body of management literature which deal with trends and views of management science, taking into consideration the newest concepts and technologies which are currently developing. Those subjects which can be applied directly to the management of library and information services are discussed in detail.
Hightower, C., Sih, J. and Tilghman, A., "Recommendations for Benchmarking Web Site Usage among Academic Libraries", College & Research Libraries, Vol. 59 No. 1, 1998, pp. 61-79.
The Web sites developed by academic libraries for their research communities represent an important new aspect of information management. Comparative statistical analysis of Web site usage among similar institutions would improve librarians' abilities to evaluate the effectiveness of their efforts. A centralised voluntary reporting structure for Web server usage statistics, coordinated by the Association of Research Libraries' Office of Statistics, would provide a significant service to academic librarians. Factors to consider in designing such a benchmarking programme are discussed, based on a pilot study of Web site usage statistics from 14 science and technology libraries.
Hoffman, H., "Performance Indicators for Technical Services in Academic Libraries", Australian Academic & Research Libraries, Vol. 28 No. 4, 1997, pp. 259-63.
Describes international standards and recent Australian work on performance indicators in the technical services area. Current projects in Victorian academic libraries highlight some of the problems involved.
Hyland, P. and Wright, L., "Providing Census and other Statistical Data in an Academic Library", Australian Academic & Research Libraries, Vol. 28 No. 4, 1997, pp. 302-10.
Presents the results of a year-long study of users of CLIB91, a census data package, in an academic library. The results of this study are used to critically evaluate CLIB91 and both strengths and weaknesses with the package are highlighted. The paper goes on to recommend the use of the Australian Bureau of Statistics Internet site as complementary source of census data for academic users.
Jayne, E. and Vander Meer, P., "The Library's Role in Academic Instructional Use of the World Wide Web", Research Strategies, Vol. 15 No. 3, Fall 1997, pp. 123-50.
The authors argue that students and faculty will need adequate training and guidance to take advantage of the instructional benefits of the Web. They propose a collaborative approach between academic libraries and computing centres to facilitate a Web instructional programme. While their collaborative programme suggestions may be rather basic for institutions already active in this area, they also provide valuable criteria for demonstrating and constructing instructional Web sites and an illustrative list of library-related and subject specific Web sites.
Kaplowitz, J. and Conti, J., "Computer-Assisted Instruction: Is It an Option for Bibliographic Instruction in Large Undergraduate Survey Classes?", College & Research Libraries, Vol. 59 No. 1, 1998, pp. 19-27.
In 1993 librarians at UCLA's Biomedical Library decided to develop a computer-assisted library instruction programme for the 800-900 undergraduate biology students per year who are enrolled in the basic, introductory biology course. A formal summative evaluation of the effectiveness of this CAI, as compared with the lecture method, was also developed. The evaluation utilised both a quantitative pre- and post-test design using objective questions, and a qualitative follow-up survey featuring open-ended questions.
Kirkpatrick, T.E., "The Training of Academic Library Staff of Information Technology within Libraries of the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities System", College & Research Libraries, Vol. 59 No. 1, 1998, pp. 51-9.
The purpose of this study was to survey academic libraries within the Minnesota state colleges and universities system to find out what the current training practices are within these libraries. Seventeen of 23 libraries responded to a survey that attempted to determine (1) the types of technologies on which staff receive training, (2) the methods being used to train staff on technology, and (3) whether any differences exist in the training that professional and paraprofessional staff receive.
Kuhlen, R., "Regional Electronic Market Places A Counter Model Both for Developed and Developing Countries", International Information and Library Review, Vol. 29 No. 2, June 1997, pp. 167-79.
Electronic markets provided by public or private networks are of growing importance and interest for providers as well as users of information. Following a two-year practical experiment with a very large regional marketplace (the Electronic Mall of the Lake of Constance Germany, Switzerland and Austria), risks and opportunities of electronic markets are discussed in detail, among others, the following topics are emphasised: management, marketing, technical and financial aspects, commercial and infrastructure information, global vs regional organisation, acceptance and quality criteria.
Kulikowski, J., "Open Access to Information Highways: Chances and Dangers for Developing Countries", International Information and Library Review, Vol. 29 No. 2, June 1997, pp. 180-8.
In terms of the information highway, people may be divided into three groups: (1) those who do not understand yet what the information highways are and how they can be used; (2) those who already understand them, (3) those who already understand what they are not and how they should not be used. The author sees the information highway as a tool for a game whose players have their own particular goals but may not be conscious of the goals of other participants. Hence, the ethics of using the information highway can be considered as a set of general rules imposes on it for a common interest. He warns that the absence of such commonly accepted rules will lead to a state of information anarchy.
Lin Zi-Yu., "How to Use CJK Software to Read Chinese, Japanese and Korean on the Web", Computers in Libraries, Vol. 17 No. 10, 1997, pp. 50-4.
Briefly discusses the linguistics, character encoding and application software involved in reading CJK on the Web. There are conflicting and competing encoding standards; the explanations here provide a useful reference when confronted with ISO-2022-GB, Big5, etc. Knowing about them is important when choosing application packages, of which four are described: AsiaSurf, Asian Viewer, AsianSuite 97, and NJWIN CJK Multilingual Support System Version 1.5 for Windows 3.1/95/NT. Downloading and use instructions for each one are given in sidebars. The author is looking at evaluation versions of shareware, but adequate direction is given for anyone who needs to go further with fonts and functions.
Mace, S. et al., "Weaving a Better Web", BYTE, Vol. 23 No. 3, March 1998, pp. 58-68.
The Extensible Markup Language (XML) is likely to revolutionise the Web. XML provides an infrastructure to solve many of the current problems with the Web, from better linking methods to powerful data structures. This feature article in BYTE and its accompanying sidebars is an excellent introduction to XML and to related draft standards and software. The online version of the article links one to some of the essential documents on XML.
Mohamed, M.Z. and Appalanaidu, U.B., "Information Systems for Decentralization of Development Planning: Managing the Change Process", International Journal of Information Management, Vol. 18 No. 1, 1998, pp. 49-60.
The purpose of this study was to determine the extent of delegation of authority by the central government to the state and district level government in planning development projects in Malaysia. Data for this research were obtained from structured postal questionnaires delivered to a selected sample of respondents as well as from secondary sources such as previous studies and relevant government reports. The sample organisations were comprised of government ministries, central agencies, state development offices and district offices. The results show that the central government has successfully delegated its authority to the state and district levels to the extent of operational and tactical planning as well as decision making. The efforts at decentralisation have resulted in greater participation in development activities and more effective and efficient administration of development projects. To further enhance the development planning process, the government has introduced computerised information systems known as SETIA and SIAP which have increased the capacity for planning implementation of development projects. This demonstrates that the success of the projects depends heavily on careful planning, implementation and optimal utilisation of the resources allocated.
Ngian, L.C., "Library 2000: Its Impact on the National Library Board of Singapore", IFLA Journal, Vol. 23 No. 2, 1997, pp. 120-3.
>Sabaratnam, J.S., "Planning the Library of the Future: The Singapore Experience", IFLA Journal, Vol. 23 No. 3, 1997, pp. 197-202.
These two papers, delivered at the IFLA conferences in Beijing and Istanbul respectively, provide us with a detailed description of Singapore's expanding public library service. The vision is set out in the Library 2000 Report, which was followed closely by an Act of Parliament setting up the new National Library Board. In many countries of the world, public spending cuts are impacting severely on libraries, so it is important for the profession to reflect on the rationale behind Singapore's increased spending and the rapidity with which the new information policy is being implemented. "Lifelong learning" and "re-skilling" have become ubiquitous terms. The Singapore testbed will give the world an opportunity to observe the contribution that libraries can make towards upgrading a nation's capabilities in handling and using information, and it is hoped in enhancing national economic prosperity.
Nims, J.K. and Rich, L., "How Successfully Do Users Search the Web?", College & Research Libraries News, Vol. 59 No. 3, March 1998, pp. 155-8.
Using the McKinley Search Voyeur Web site http://voyeur.mckinley.com/cgi-bin/voyeur.cgi, the authors observed Web searches in an attempt to learn the common pitfalls of searchers in their institution so that they could adjust their Web instruction accordingly. Among the types of "mistakes" they encountered were: one-word searches, inclusion of stop words, typing errors, entire or partial URLs, exclusion of Magellan search suggestions. The mistakes observed here are many of the same mistakes that users make on online systems; the difference is that the problems are magnified in the Web environment.
Oh, K.M. and Meadows, J., "Use of Communication Technologies in South Korean Universities", Journal of Information Science, Vol. 24 No. 1, 1998, pp. 33-8.
The setting up of a national academic IT infrastructure in South Korea is being hampered by the fact that traditionally there has been more competition than collaboration between universities. This study describes a survey of Korean academic institutions to discover the type of facilities available and the uses made of them. It reveals that universities are at considerably different stages in their provision of local area networks. The lack of organised access to information in Korea is a major complaint of users, and the development of national databases still requires attention, demonstrating that the provision of content is as important as the building of the conduits along which the information is to flow.
Okerson, A., "Copyright or Contract?", Library Journal, Vol. 122 No. 14, 1997, pp. 136-8.
Uncertainty about making intellectual property available without infringing copyright concerns many information professionals. Okerson contrasts copyright law, which is general in nature and open to debate on many points, with licensing agreements, which are specific in their wording and presumably acceptable to all parties concerned. She summarises the protections and exceptions in copyright law and shows how weaknesses became significant failings with the advent of major digital storage and transmission activities. After an initial period of paranoia, with proposed licenses so strict as to be virtually unworkable, licensing for information resources has become a viable way to avoid misunderstandings and courtroom appearances. An advocate for licensing in libraries, Okerson includes a selection of online licensing resources headed by her LIBLICENSE http://www.library.yale.edu/~llicense/index.html site.
Owen, U., "Gateways to Freedom: Libraries and the Next Millennium", IFLA Journal, Vol. 23 No. 5/6, 1997, pp. 356-61.
The author points out that the concentration of ownership in the media has affected the extent to which minorities are heard. For any concept of human rights to be universally accepted and globally enforced, equal respect and mutual comprehension between rival cultures is demanded. Hate speech, political correctness and the dangers of making exceptions to the absolute right to free speech are covered. Concludes with the role the library has in supporting and disseminating the importance of free expression. Libraries can be places where (1) dialogue takes place; (2) the diversity of cultural lives is displayed; (3) the right to choose is pre-eminent; (4) people can be guided through information which some might find offensive; and (5) freedom of expression is taught and people are encouraged to know their own rights.
Pack, T., "Visualizing Information: Visualization Systems Data Management", Database, Vol. 21 No. 1, February/March 1998, pp. 47-9.
Information visualisation transforms data into graphic representations to help readers use their skills in observation and processing to extract knowledge more efficiently. Traditionally employed in engineering and medicine, it is becoming increasingly popular in other areas that use complex data sets. Pack notes that there are still limitations for bringing effective visualisation systems to the Web but suggests that this will change with improvements in Web-based technologies and increased bandwidth.
Park Iljong, K., "Comparing Major US OPAC Systems for Developing Countries", Libri, Vol. 47 No. 4, 1997, pp. 234-42.
The objective of this study is to provide information on the characteristics of a specific group of international university students from a developing country in order to assist system managers in the selection of OPAC systems. The major conclusions are: (1) the academic level and age of students affect the preference toward an OPAC, but academic major of the students does not affect the preference; (2) system designers should prepare more specific instructions regarding searching methods; (3) there is a negative relationship between the number of searching methods that the respondents knew in using OPACs and the frequency of manual card catalogue use; and (4) menu-driven systems should be the first selection of OPAC systems for Korean students. Recommendations are proposed when designing, adopting, or managing a new OPAC system.
Park Sung-Gwan., "'Disarticulations' in Information Society: Barriers to the Universal Access to Information Highways in Developing Countries", International Information and Library Review, Vol. 29 No. 2, June 1997, pp. 189-99.
Supports the opinion that full benefit may be derived from the technological potential if serious attention is given to the social, political and ethical aspects, which are often barriers to the free and multidirectional access to information, especially in developing countries. Causes of these barriers "disarticulations" are listed and their importance in developing countries emphasised, and possible differences in communication structures in a society and their effects are examined. The author concludes that the traditional principle of free flow of information is not sufficient in a developing information society; there is a need for a principle which deals more specifically with the "activation", mediation, and networking of the needs and opinions at the different levels of society.
Richardson, J.V. Jr., "Question Master: An Evaluation of a Web-Based Decision-Support System for Use in Reference Environments", College & Research Libraries, Vol. 59 No. 1, 1998, pp. 29-37.
Designed for librarians, Question Master (QM) http://purl.org/net/Question_Master is a decision-support system automating some of the more routine, fact-type reference questions encountered in libraries. Based on usability studies of QM's biographical module, the study found that although the system was easy to use, its usability could be improved in several ways. Its ability to answer questions was 100 per cent, with an accuracy rate of 66 per cent compared with Weil's 64 per cent accuracy. In addition QM accuracy was substantially better than most reported studies of real reference environments and certainly better than the Internet results of 20 per cent for HotBot and 30 per cent for AltaVista.
Seshagiri, N. and Reddy, C.L.M., "Evolution of Ethical Aspects of Digital Information in India", International Information and Library Review, Vol. 29 No. 2, June 1997, pp. 227-35.
Evolution of the legal framework of digital information in India and the associated ethical framework are traced with specific reference to land records and land use information: case law, archiving, privacy and freedom of information, considerations of competitive situations, etc. The case of legal information of NICNET (National Informatics Centre NET) and the ethical aspects of government digital information are described in order to clarify what could be the desirable guidelines for the future development of ethical and legal aspects of informatics in India. Issues linked to the development of the Internet and Intranet for scientific, educational and cultural information management are also presented.
Thajchayapong, P. et al., "Social Equity and Prosperity: Thailand's Information Technology Policy into the 21st Century", The Information Society, Vol. 13 No. 3, 1997, pp. 265-86.
Thailand's National IT Plan is presented, together with comments by 3 international experts: Heinrich Reinermann, Seymour Goodman and Russell Pipe. The Plan considers social as well as economic goals in its objectives and implementation proposals, in a desire to "invest in an equitable information infrastructure, to enhance human ability and enhance life quality." Laudable aims, but can they survive the economic meltdown?
Watters, C., Conley, M. and Alexander, C., "The Digital Agora: Using Technology for Learning in the Social Sciences", Communications of the ACM, Vol. 41 No. 1, January 1998, pp. 50-7.
The "digital agora" http://ace.acadiau.ca/digagora/digagora/agora.htm at Acadia University in Canada is a Web-based system which encourages collaborative analysis of social problems. Students enrolled in introductory political science, peace studies and international politics courses work through Web pages to read, write responses, pull together research and reach consensus after negotiation on group efforts. The focus of the article is on the interweaving of curriculum with site organisation and functions, with particular emphasis on implementation issues.