By Gina de Alwis Jayasuriya*
(26 Nov 2021) John Hickok is a familiar name to many of us in the LIS profession in Asia. As Library Faculty, International Outreach Librarian at the California State University Fullerton since 1997, John has been providing library outreach and instruction to international students who come from diverse cultural populations in California. John conducted a research project on “Cross-cultural comparisons of library services between countries” which spanned over 15 years for which information was collected through annual visits and interactions with librarians in the region.
John’s research findings formed the basis of his presentation on Best Practices of Libraries in ASEAN and ventured into unchartered territory to identify best practices that best represent the public library sector in each country. He provided examples to illustrate the best practice identified for each country. The presentation was a tightly packed half-hour whirlwind virtual tour of the public library sectors in the 11 ASEAN countries.
At the beginning of the presentation John shared that the purpose of his presentation was to help libraries draw inspiration from and emulate best practices of each other and was not an exercise to compare who is better. Country-specific best practices identified for the 11 countries in the ASEAN region were as follows:
|Malaysia||Nationwide e-resource access|
|Myanmar||Group effort assistance|
|Singapore||Combining technology & targeted user-needs|
|Thailand||Adapting to conditions|
The presentation demonstrated John’s familiarity and in-depth understanding of the public library sectors in the respective countries and showcased his passion for libraries in Asia. It also provided insights into his perspective of the best practice in each country that contributes towards the enhancement of the public library sector.
During the Q & A session when asked what inspired him to study libraries in Asia, John response was that it was the multicultural population on campus, specifically the large Asian population that he had to support, that got him intrigued and interested in researching Asian libraries and brought him to Asia to gain first- hand experiences. John was also asked if he could identify best practices of ASEAN libraries during the pandemic. Whilst reiterating that the same best practices applied, he also highlighted the need for libraries to leverage on technology, the use of social media such as Facebook, Instagram, etc., and the importance of creating and posting videos to reach out to the younger generation, the digital natives.
John published the findings of his research in a book entitled Serving Library Users from Asia: A Comprehensive Handbook of Country-Specific Information and Outreach Resources in 2019. Comprising 752 pages each of the 24 chapters covers a specific country and culture in Asia.
The conference was co-hosted by the ASEAN Public Libraries Information Network (APLiN), and sponsored by the National Commission for Culture and the Arts – National Committee on Libraries and Information Services (Philippines) and Tourism and Promotions Board Philippines. The theme of the first virtual conference was “ASEAN Libraries, Arts and Culture: Inspire, Innovate and Collaborate.” The main objective of the conference was to provide a venue for learning and appreciation of the ASEAN libraries, arts, and culture as well as their inspiring stories, initiatives, innovations, and collaborations.
To view Hickok’s presentation, see: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FXRj04vycOI at timestamp 03:01:00.
*Dr. Gina de Alwis Jayasuriya is an Independent Researcher with over four decades of experience in academic and special libraries in Singapore and Sri Lanka. She is very passionate about promoting continuing professional development (CPD) and lifelong learning to library professionals and advocates upskilling and reskilling to stay relevant. In 2019, she launched a research project on “Continuing Professional Development (CPD) for LIS Professionals in selected Asian Countries” which is ongoing. She holds a PhD in Information Studies from the Nanyang Technological University, Singapore. She has presented at numerous conferences and has several publications to her credit. She resides in Singapore. Email: [email protected].