12 March 2014
Asia and Oceania BSLA convening focuses on education and professional development
The second regional convening as part of IFLA’s expanded Building Strong Library Associations programme was held 4-7 March in Jakarta, Indonesia.
Reflecting the objectives and priorities in the region, the Asia and Oceania convening focused on skills for the future of the library profession, and educational standards. Many associations in the region offer professional development courses, and are in some cases the only source of basic or continuing training for library staff in their country. Emerging developments, such as the formation of the ASEAN economic community by 2015 will have a major impact on libraries, as workforce mobility will take a central role.
Beyond education and training, the convening introduced workshops on building partnerships, the role of libraries in society, planning, and advocacy. The 13 participating associations, including regional associations Conference of South East Asian Librarians CONSAL and Pacific Islands Association of Libraries, Archives, and Museums PIALA, shared their experiences and identified opportunites for continued collaboration over the coming years. More than 35 people participated in the convening, including representatives from several Indonesian library associations, Goethe Institute (Jakarta), IFLA, National Library of Indonesia, and BSLA trainers from across the region. By the end of the convening, associations had prepared a draft development proposal to take home to their association for discussion and endorsement, to take forward as a project proposal. Projects will be implemented on a rolling basis over the next three years and could include BSLA workshops at national and regional conferences, projects between groups of countries or for the region as a whole, or advocacy activities.
Some associations are actively working to position libraries as a social good (Nepal), others are seeking government recognition for their services and librarians (Philippines) and others are seeking to strengthen partnerships at a time of transition in the country (Myanmar). The national and sector-specific associations in Indonesia identified the need for a strong umbrella approach, to develop joint projects and to advocate together. A strong emphasis by all associations was placed on the need to update librarians on IFLA policy and guidelines, and other training, using a train the trainer approach to maximise resources and reach as many librarians across the country as possible.
At the opening session, Director of the National Library of Indonesia Sri Sularsih, emphasized the importance of associations, and collaboration between library institutions. The National Library of Indonesia oversees national and also many public library services across the country, spanning a massive geographical area. IFLA Governing Board member Ngian Lek Choh summarised the long history of some associations in the region, with Philippines formed in the 1920s, to younger associations in countries that have undergone transformations, such as Myanmar, Laos, and Cambodia and motivated each to participate actively on an equal footing. IFLA Secretary General, Jennefer Nicholson introduced the BSLA programme and IFLA’s work on cultural heritage, the digital agenda, development, and the important role of associations in supporting and advocating for strong library communities. She noted the importance of Indonesia as a dynamic, influential country in the region which made it the ideal country to host the Asia and Oceania convening.