Friday, March 2, 2007

Dr. Aree Cheunwattana's Library Science class, March 1 and 2

When I first arrived at SWU, I met Dr. Aree, a faculty member in the library science program for bachelors and masters students. She's another delightful colleague. Aree got her PhD in library science at Indiana University-Bloomington and did her dissertation research on rural libraries in Thailand.

Right away she asked me to meet with her students and faculty to talk about research in our profession. Yesterday and today, I met with them in the mornings, lecturing for a little more than one hour, followed by discussion and team work. I had them pair off to design research projects they want to pursue, either for their degree programs, or for their practical work in libraries. My primary motivation was to inspire and encourage them. I think it worked.

The results presented Friday, March 2 were impressive indeed. Metholology included experimental designs with control and experimental groups, as well as surveys and other qualitative techniques. Topics included information literacy, accuracy & efficiency in the online catalog, analysis of SWU education dissertation citations to see whether this library is adequately supporting the graduate students' research. Lots of fun!

Thursday, March 1 - Kasetsart University's new library

According to my colleagues at Kasetsart University, their new library is the most innovative and modern academic library in Thailand. They're probably correct. I haven't visited all academic libraries in Thailand, so I can't say for sure, but they're clearly on top at the moment. I CAN say it is impressive and compares favorably to any I've seen in the U.S.

Actually, their new electronic library is connected to their older, traditional library by an enclosed, glass-walled bridge. It's just what we'd love to have at Denison to connect Doane Library and Fellows Hall, where Computing Services is.

Kasetsart's traditional library has the usual configuration of circulation and reference on the first floor, with periodicals and books on the upper two floors. This is one of those buildings with an open atrium in the middle. Looks nice, but as a librarian, when I see such designs, I always worry about the lost space for users, computers, and shelving. Fortunately, their new addition does not have that problem. It's colorful and jazzy, loaded with lots of computers and media equipment. Best of all, it's very lively, filled with mobs of students.
I gave my lecture on library administration in a digital age, and they seemed engaged. That topic interest ALL librarians these days.

Wednesday, Feb. 28 Thammasat University Library

Thammasat University is one of Thailand's most prestigious, probably second only to Chulalongkhorn. Next to the Chao Praya River near the Grand Palace and the National Museum, the university setting is impressive, as is the library. About 10 years old, it has three floors underground and two above. Height restrictions in this historic area made this approach necessary. There is a pretty center courtyard that brings light into all floors, while housing lush plants, fountains, and birds.

The staff is large, at almost 200, in part because there are 10 branch libraries. Likewise, the resources are impressive, with more than 60 databases and a full range of resources in both English and Thai.

As always, the hospitality and generosity were enormous, and my lecture on Planning and Assessment in Academic Libraries was well received, with good questions afterwards.