Newsletter No. 10

CUHK Newsletter • How much did you know about the University and its library prior to your appointment as University Librarian? • From various sources I have heard of the r e p u t a t i on of Th e Ch i ne se University of Hong Kong, and of the high quality of its students and faculty. My visit to the University last May confirmed what I'd heard. As for the University Library, I knew about it through professional contacts. It was first organized under the leadership of Dr. Chiu Kai-ming, an accomplished scholar and the respected librarian of the Harvard-Yenching Library at Harvard University. On my last visit to the CU library I was impressed by the fact that it could be so well developed in a short time of only twenty-six years. It is extremely fortunate for me to have this opportunity to serve both the University and the library. At the same time I realize challenging wor k lies ahead. • What is the most urgent task awaiting you in your new post? • I believe that the first few months wil l be a learning period during which I w i ll work closely with both the admin- istration and the faculty t o map out the future direction of the library. It w i ll be difficult, if not impossible, for me to contemplate any changes without first familiarizing myself with the mission of the University and its environment As an integral part of the University, the library is undoubtedly destined t o play an important role in furthering the educational mission of the University. Any changes in the environment, either internal or external, w i l l have an important impact on the planning for the library. Changes in student enrolment, for example, will affect planning in space utilization, book budget, and library services. Any increase in ou r book and periodical budgets w i ll have to be matched by additional personnel for the processing of new acquisitions and for reference services. Any changes in the curricula and in the research interest of faculty members w i ll undoubtedly mean a greater demand for new materials. Any planning for the library should complement the educational mission of the University. I have been told that an extension to the University Library is under consideration. So that the library can accommodate more students, we must start planning for that new building without delay. • Any experience that you've acquired in the States that is particularly relevant to the CU setting and can be transferred here? • Before I am familarized w i th the working mechanism of the University, it will be premature for me to talk about transplanting any relevant experience gained in America to The Chinese University. I will reserve my response to this for a later day. However, I am willing to share with you what I consider to be the fundamental functions of a library. In the last 15 years as a library administrator, I have successfully managed varied and complex administrative responsibilities such as strategic planning, budgetary control, policy implementation and th e counselling of library personnel. While many of these responsibilities are important in the operation of a library, I find that the most challenging task of all is to seek improvement in all aspects of service provision. This involves not only the development of a library collection that could meet the instructional and research needs of students and faculty, but the effective dissemination and transmission of all available resources to end users. To achieve these goals, a library has to develop the following programmes: (1) the installation of an integrated library automation system; (2) strengthening library collections to meet the need s of the college's academic programmes; (3) the establishment of resource- sharing programmes w i th other libraries; and (4) nurturing a team of qualified staff to offer effective reference services. These four aspects form the basis of a service-oriented library. Good services depend on a team of knowledgeable library staff; this is especially so in an information age characterized by the overabundance of information. Access to vast amounts of undigested facts is of little value to our clients; for knowledge to be useful, the bits and pieces of information need to be aggregated and synthesized into more coherent ideas. I n the coming decades, the assimilation an d synthesis of more and more complex bodies of knowledge w i ll be an important service • of higher education in general and of the library in particular. Along with the synthesis of information will b e the urgent need to transmit it much more effectively. The development of this kind of service in support of research projects continues to be the focus of the efforts of all librarians. In general, my philosophy in library , operation has been inspire d by the laws of Dr. S. R. Ranganathan, a leading scholar in librarianship from India: Books are for use; Every reader his book; Every book its reader; Save the time of the reader; A library is a growing organism. • Nowadays, information has become a ‘commodity" . Librarians must equip themselves well to serve their patrons in a way much different from the past. They cannot abdicate their responsibilities of rating and evaluating the items in a library. They have to be knowledgeable enough to sort out the needed from the unneeded. I amhopeful . 2