ABDVol.30 No.4
Co-operation among Libraries

Khunying Maenmas Chavalit


Basic Library Co-operation

In the past century, library co-operation was established, with theory, norms, principles, standards and mechanism for practical implementation. Co-operative library activities have been undertaken at various levels-local, national and international. Memorandums of agreements have been signed on a bilateral basis, between two libraries or two-country governmental agencies concerned; or multinationals at regional or universal levels.
 Two main factors, in the past century, which necessitated library co-operation, are:

1) The information explosion; since the Second World War, a great amount of scientific and technical research has been conducted by military, political, scientific, educational and social science research institutions and associations, resulting in "floods" of information sources in various forms-printed papers, audio-visual materials and so on.

2) The needs for information, contents as well as materials, by the administrative decision-makers, researchers, practitioners, scholars and students have increased rapidly. The users' requirements for information are its comprehensiveness (in any languages, wherever information sources in particular topics of their interest are generated, their authenticity and up-to-dateness).

 All types of libraries, great or small, have to provide demanded services in demand, and at the same time to solve problems arising from "information explosion". No libraries, even the largest one of the world like the Library of Congress in the United States, or the Lenin Library in Russia, can acquire and house all the information sources produced in all parts of the world. In particular, some "grey" materials which are not available at commercial distribution channels, such as the unpublished proceedings of the seminars and conferences in developing countries. The overall problems include the shortage of building spaces, manpower to handle the organisation of acquired materials, money for acquisition of materials, necessary equipment for information management and many others.
 The main purposes of library co-operation in the past, which will definitely continue to be so in the future, are to provide services for users and to effectively manage information sources, with a view to providing the most effective services at low cost. Each library will bear in mind its own local and national resources-money, manpower, technical methodology, the overall infrastructures such as transportation systems, communication and telecommunication infrastructures, advancement in computer technologies etc. In the age of globalization, one-world information, sharing prosperity in economic, scientific, technical, educational, social and cultural areas, the demand for information required for global and sectional development, mutual understanding of one another's ways of life, mutual benefits and concerted efforts towards world peace and prosperity, will increase at least 2-3 fold.
 The types and forms of co-operation initiated in the past, and which continue till today include simple agreements on bilateral or multilateral basis for;

1) interlibrary loans of library materials,
2) co-acquisition of library materials,
3) co-operative projects in organisation of library materials, resulting in union catalogue, or shared catalogue 4) arrangement for gifts and exchange programmes and sometimes personnel exchange.

These are arranged through meetings to decide on effective methods and standards. The relevant parties sign letters of agreement, which have been undertaken at institutional levels, and some at governmental levels, depending on the governmental policies which vary from country to country, to facilitate some co-operative activities such as the international library loans of library materials. The standard guidelines on practice were sometimes formulated by international professional associations, in particular the International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions (IFLA, http://www.ifla.org). At the regional level, the Congress of Southeast Asian Librarians (CONSAL, http://www.consal.org.sg/) formulated guidelines for the co-operative production of a master list of microfilms of the library and archive holdings of the member countries.

Network of Libraries and Information

The creation of the library or information network initiated in the 1970s is another form of library co-operation, officially supported and encouraged by UNESCO. A network, as defined in the UNESCO Population Education Programme Service, UNESCO Principal Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific, Bangkok, is "a form of arrangement or an administrative structure that links a group of individuals or organisations who have agreed to work together and/or share resources. Informational networking entails the sharing of resources so that information needs of both actual and potential users of information-from the local to the national level-of all network participants are met". The library network can be based on topics such as Population Education: Agricultural Information System (AGRIS) or on the types of materials such as the National Centre for International Serial Data System (ISDS). The network can be at national, regional and international levels.
 The networking of library and information centres will be continued and emphasized in the future when it is expected by the World Forum such as the UNESCO Education for All in the year 2000, to achieve basic education for all. The advancement in the research in computer and telecommunication technologies for use in information transfer, document delivery in digitized form, the production of effective hardware and programme software required to create databases (bibliographic and textual)-all these have already proved to be convenient for resource-sharing and information transfer-worldwide, especially through the information super-highway, the Internet.
 Library co-operation in the future will still be more or less of the same types and forms as at present. The trend will, certainly, be at international level. To achieve that, the national and local levels within each nation, particularly the developing countries, must be strengthened to enable them to participate internationally. The level of development of libraries, communication and telecommunication infrastructures varies, but the demands of users of information in each country will be more or less the same. For the fulfillment of such demands, co-operative efforts are required from the library and information professionals, the regional and international organisations such as IFLA, UNESCO and the non-government organisations, such as the Japan Foundation, and the Ford Foundation, in order to accelerate the establishment of effective library services for all.

Khunying Maenmas Chavalit
Born in 1922, Khunying Maenmas Chavalit stands out as an expert in library, and has been advocator of quality books for children in Thailand from the beginning of her career. She has served a number of positions both in governmental and non-governmental organizations including director of the National Library of Thailand, president of Thai Library Association, of which she was one of the founders, and a member of the Standing Committee for IFLA Regional Division for Asia and Oceania. She is also an author of children's books writing many fiction and non-fiction books and translated quality English books for Thai children.