By Gina de Alwis Jayasuriya*
(11 Jan 2023) In January 2019, I initiated a study on Continuing Professional Development (CPD)opportunities available to Library & Information Science (LIS) professionals in selected Asian countries.
The focus was on countries that had conducted limited research on
- the LIS sector, and
- specifically, on CPD for LIS professionals.
Country studies completed so far include the Republic of Maldives** (2020) and Cambodia (2021), both of which were the very first of such studies.
For the Cambodian study 26 semi-structured interviews were conducted via Zoom during the peak of the pandemic. The interview participants included 14 training providers and 12 library employees drawn from national, academic, special, and school libraries as well as selected non-governmental organisations (NGOs) involved in library development in the country. As a large number of libraries in Cambodia are school libraries, special attention was given to the training efforts of the Cambodian government and NGOs to upgrade school libraries.
The study identified a few key barriers to CPD:
- The sparseness of CPD opportunities in the country;
- The inability to meet real training needs in the absence of training needs assessment studies;
- The challenges such as travel, accommodation, and study leave associated with attending programmes in other provinces;
- Inability of training providers supporting teacher librarians to comply with the Ministry of Education guidelines for training due to resource constraints and the lack of a T & D policy; and
- The glaring lack of resource personnel to conduct CPD programmes. This paucity may be attributed to two key reasons—there are ONLY THREE professional librarians with a MLIS; and, the lack of a LIS education programme in the country.
A key potential area of improvement that needs urgent attention is the development of a strong LIS support system to sustain the CPD framework. In the first instance, the support system should include the establishment of a LIS education programme and the reactivation of the Cambodian Librarians Association which can act as a CPD advisor and primary LIS CPD provider in the country.
Despite the many gaps revealed in the study, it is encouraging to note the investments made by the Government of Cambodia to develop school libraries in recent years. One such example is the five-year project between the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sports (MoEYS), Kampuchea Action to Promote Education (KAPE), and The Asia Foundation (TAF).
As an initial step to address the significant CPD gaps in Cambodia, I collaborated with the Cambodian Library Association to have an international LIS professional present a webinar. Discussions are ongoing to collaborate on a series of webinars.
The following publications offer detailed findings on the Cambodian study:
- De Alwis Jayasuriya, G. and Majid, S. (2022). Capacity building through continuing professional development (CPD) in Cambodia: Perspectives of library employees and training providers: Paper presented at the XVIII CONSAL Conference, 29-30 November 2022.
- De Alwis Jayasuriya, G. and Majid, S. (2022). Continuing professional development in Cambodia: Perspectives of different stakeholders. IFLA Journal https://doi.org/10.1177/03400352221130776
** For information on the CPD study on the Maldives see the Journal of Education in Library & Information Science (JELIS); IFLA Journal; IKC conference 2021; UTP Blog; and ALA21 Virtual poster. The collaboration with Maldives to address gaps in CPD opportunities continued over 2021/22 through a series of webinars featuring LIS professionals from around the world. These were offered under the auspices of the National Library of Maldives.
For more information, please email [email protected].
*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].