Benchmarking Visit to Singapore
Part 1 (WEDNESDAY, 19TH AUGUST 2015)
We begin early and fresh as we had enough sleep last night and all librarians gathered at the hotel lobby around 6.20 am and checked out of the hotel, then we leave all our luggages inside the UniKL bus which then brought them to MITEC in Pasir Gudang. All of us had the breakfast provided by the hotel and at near 7 am we already inside the Rajawali Bus. The process of entering the customs and immigration of Malaysia and Singapore begun. Along the way to the two checkpoints the road was filled with trailers, motorcycles, cars and peoples walking from Johor Bharu entering the checkpoints. It is a busy road with high traffic, now I know why we have to depart early from J.B.
En.Khairul Anwar had briefed us on the tentative programmes of the day which will be started at Nanyang Technological University Library (NTU Library), followed by National University of Singapore Library (NUS Library) and lastly to National Library of Singapore (NL). He stressed on the roles of every group members and passed the microphone to Puan Pazilah to give her words and mandate to all of us. In her speech, she stressed that the knowledge journey had been planned carefully by her and she prayed that everything will be smooth as according to her plan. She stressed that all of us should grab the opportunities and gain as much as we could, asking questions to the Librarians in those universities for that we feel not enough inputs. Lastly, announcement made by her on the rebranding of the City Campus Library and all branch campuses libraries.
We picked up Cik Kalsum at the same place in Woodlands. Along the way from Woodlands to NTU library she had briefed again on history of Singapore and interestingly on NEWater, the brand name given to ultra-pure water that is produced from reclaimed water. Most of the NEWater is used by industries for non-portable uses such as wafer fabrication.
We reached NTU which located at (50 Nanyang Avenue, Singapore 639798) at around 9.30 am, the university area is huge and green. The bus stopped in front of Tan Chin Tuan Lecture Theatre and we had to walk inside for a few metres to reach the Library. Along the walkway we saw that some part of the library was under renovation. For info, NTU is one the two public and autonomous universities in Singapore. We entered the Lee Wee Nam Library (Science and Engineering collection), the biggest library among other NTU libraries. The library is named after the generous donation by the family of the late Mr Lee Wee Nam. This well photographed building has reading space to cater for both group discussion and learning as well as individual quiet reading. On arrival, we were warmly received by Ms Alice Ang Assistant Library Executive and Miss Leena Shah, Librarian (Library Technology Group), Science Librarian (Earth Sciences) at the Services counter. We were then divided into two groups i.e. one group guided by her and the other group guided by Mr. Lim Kong Meng, Head, Engineering Library &Engineering Librarian (Civil Engineering & Maritime Studies)
Mr. Lim mentioned that Lee Wee Nam Library comprised of Level 2, 4 and 5. He explained that the library cater for different kind of users with no sitting requirement. He stated that the level 2 of the library that place more than 200 PCs will be soon refurbished to become the Research area. He believed in openness of the Library and mentioned that no turn style equipment installed in the Library just to ensure that it is open and with less control from the Librarian.
Mr. Lim then brought us to an area that is call “E Book Corner” on the right side of the Services counter. It places some computer monitors and IPads for the students. It is describe as free and easy searching of e books subscribed by the University library, besides that the students can check their emails of gmails and hotmails through the facilities provided. He stated that the library have more than 50,000 of e-journal titles and more than 900,000 volumes of books.
Besides the area the Library placed a corner for the students’ project for display. Usually the top and selected project of the students will be displayed in this corner. He added that the semester begun on Jan/Feb and end on April. Mr. Lim is a subject librarian i.e. engineering librarian. The university library have other subject librarians that comprise of Art, Design, Media, Medical and etc. Librarians. They have near 200 library staff that comprise the professional and support staff. They display the librarian faces on the wall like wall of fame in such a way to attract the students to visit the library and get in touch with the librarians in charge.
Mr. Lim mentioned that during the new students’ orientation session, they won’t give serious talk on the Library services and didn’t do any books exhibition, just brief explanation on the Library and they will conduct the Information Literacy Class later, usually the library orientation for new students were conducted for three days. The Library also did an interesting promotion by setting up a booth inside the pasar malam in the university compound and there will a library staff stationed there to give explanation to students who need infos on the Library. Wrapping up the new students register, the Library will organize a “tea party” in a small group for the new students, Mr. Lim mentioned that after he entertain us he will be rushed to the party. The session will be chiller and relax, no Q & A session inside the tea party. The small group of students will be served finger foods i.e. cakes, mee hoon and other simple foods. The idea of this session is to make the new students feel comfortable with the librarians and feel welcomed by the Library. This sounds nice to me and all of us in the group, it is simply a new approach to attract the new students to come to the Library!
He brought us to the Level 2 that is also known as Commons area which place 200 hundreds of computer facilities for the students to use and access to journals, databases and other electronic resources subscribed by the Library. Standard software such as Microsoft productivity suites (MSWord, Excel, Power point, etc.) are also installed in these computers, he further explained that the level will be transformed to Research Common Area a place for research students to discuss, the university library had formed a team and did brainstorming session to gain ideas on transforming the area on what needed to do, the idea will be handed to architect and ID on the further design of the area, he stressed that the upgrading also depends on the library’s budget.
He further brought us to Learning Pods in the Commons Area. There are 6 Learning Pods in the Commons. The Learning Pods are:-
• Learning Pods Nos. 1 to 3 are behind the IT Help Desk and are equipped with 42-inch LCD monitors.
• Learning Pods Nos 4 to 6 are next to the Recording Room and are equipped with 48-inch interactive whiteboards or SMART Boards.
The Learning Pods are all equipped with PCs. Together with either the LCD monitor or SMART Board they provide enlarged screens for group discussions or mock presentations. Each Learning Pod also comes with a conventional whiteboard for writing or drawing. He mentioned that the Pod can be booked per group for 2 hours and is the hot facilities among the students especially when they need to send their assignments. The booking for the pods is through online booking.
Next he brought us to Recording Room at the end of the Commons and which will provides students with a small enclosed space to engage in small scale audio or video recording, quickly and conveniently.
The Recording Room is equipped with AV recording equipment, a green screen and Chroma key software for professional looking videos or simple high quality podcast. It is acoustic proof and he did mentioned that the room was built after a team of NTU Librarians 6 years ago had come out with the idea to do a recording room for improving students presentations. It was also part of incentive given by the University to its various departments under the tagline – Cool Campus. The room has to be booked online.
After the Recording Room he brought us to Video Wall corner. The wall is in between the two banks of Learning Pods. The video wall comprises four 46-inch LCD monitors. This wall provides a common area to explore many of the digital resources and facilities provided by the Library. Eight sound domes suspended from the ceiling project sound from the video wall to the seats below and minimize sound spillage into other areas. Sometimes the area turn to a “lunch time talk” where the Library will invite a researcher to give a talk on a simple topic i.e. “LD Lights” in a layman language
He slightly brief us on Multimonitor and Touchscreen PC Workstations that is beside the Learning Pods. The PC workstations are available in 3 configurations:
- 2-screen (4 stations)
- 3-screen (4 stations)
- Touch screen (3 stations)
The multimonitors will provide a bigger screen surface and the option to open up more applications all at one go. The PC workstations are equipped with ‘Pinnacle’ software for video editing. He did mentioned that this facility is not so successful with the students.
The next area was Digital newspapers. There are 3 digital newspaper readers at the Commons. The LCD screens are interactive, allowing users to flip pages and browse digital editions of newspapers. One of the LCD screen contains 97 newspapers from different countries in 54 languages. There are other facilities in this level that is Printing Room and it had been operated by Contractors from outside and he mentioned that all of the books are using RFID tag.
Mr.Lim brought us to Level 5, the Quiet Zone Area, the zone was design in a circular shape and, students can view the outside scenery from their tables. Foods are not allowed in the quiet zone. In this zone, there is a phone booth talk for the students who would like to answer calls, it is a sound proof room. Users are prohibited to leave their things unattended on the tables. The library has the right to move any books leave on the table unattended for 30 minutes. The Lee Wee Nam Library also credited the students complaints by putting their grievances on the wall near the lift, Mr.Lim mentioned that the Library really care about the students’ need.
Mr.Lim briefed us on Reservation services for the students at the Level 3, where we first entered the Library, the students are allowed to reserve books for 2 hours time and they provide kick stools for students who would like to read the books inside this area, they have to do the borrowing process by themselves and a stand alone self check machine provided in this area and the fines is 50 cent per book per hour, the reservation area is on left side of the services counter. Mr.Lim then end his briefing and left us to be brought into the media room for slides presentation with the Chief Librarian of NTU library
Mr.Choy explained that NTU is one of the autonomous universities in Singapore, they receive funding from the government, but are autonomous, which gives them the flexibility to strategise, innovate, and differentiate themselves, as they pursue excellence in education, research and service.
He began his presentation and stated in his slides:
- NTU has 32,000 students and 1/3 of the students are research students and NTU is a Research University, an example the Medical School had a joint venture programme with Imperial College of London.
- NTU library placed 906,300 volumes of books and adding new titles 38,300 per year
- 900 books borrowed per day
- Media: there are 73,100 items that comprise of documentaries, films courses and 54 loans & virus per day
- Online: 223 databases and 55,00 e-journal
- 642,200 e-books
- 20,600 articles downloaded per day
- Document Delivery: Obtain books & articles not available in library, > 1,500 articles purchased per year
He mentioned that they use EBSCO and link with Google under Enabling Information Finding service that comprise search, browse and discover, when there’s a need the students will ask the librarians and it is available via mobile access too. There are guides on using resources by topical guide and subject room and guides.
Mr.Choy mentioned that NTU Library had been a pioneer in promoting blogs. They are working closely with faculties and encourage the academic lecturers to put their notes on the blogs. There are 330 Teaching and Learning blogs. The library does not maintain the blogs but assisting in setting the blogs, the blogs are multilingual and they have blogs in Japanese, Mandarin and Malay languages. This is the initiative by the Library to support Teaching and Learning activities in NTU. Another innitiative by the Library is providing E-Portfolio for archiving the students’ projects: Art & design students (keeping and showcasing students works). The whole campus of NTU are using e-learning and Library is supplementing the research process. The library also provided Teaching Information & Digital Literacy,the programme had been integrated with curriculum in which the students are compulsorily take 2 courses before graduating. He mentioned that it is a blended learning. Besides that, the Library is supporting the research work and publishing with open acces to its Institution Repositry. He finally gave some info of the space of NTU that is 15,200 m and accommodating 1,720 seats, his Deputy Librarian is a Canadian and NTU has a total of 7 subject libraries, he mentioned that the previous years Lee We Nam Library had done internship program for librarians and selected 5 peoples from various part of Asia. Puan Hajjah Pazilah handed official souvenirs from UniKL to Mr.Choy as a compliment for receiving us as guest at Lee Wee Nam Library of NTU.