For the past century, change occurred rapidly in professional industry and has posed significant challenges to those who always tries to be the leader in the professional field. The information waves or some called the information revolution triggered by the rising of networking technologies and personal computers has also impacted to an institution that is quite unknown to some but essential to the community, the library institution. Libraries, as we know of as buildings with stacks of books, magazine, news, files, periodicals and signs of ‘silence’ all around, may face its extinction someday.
One may not run to the library or a librarian for information, but to one’s own computer which is the basic of automation. The uprising of globalization, marketization, and privatization had bring significant changes the long-held political and economic beliefs. Governments and social sponsors have been propagating that social institutions—be they hospitals, schools, colleges, and libraries—become self-sufficient if they are to purposefully work and demonstrate their relevance and competence to their clients.
Institutional excellence will now have to be achieved through the arm race of technologies rather than through rules, regulations and controls.. Librarians and information managers, therefore, are being asked to generate revenue to become self-sustaining as much as possible. In Malaysia, libraries and information centers have begun to realize that marketing of information products and services is an integral part of administration, especially as a means for improving user satisfaction and promoting the use of services by current and potential users.
The main arsenal for libraries in Malaysia can utilize would be the automated library system and integration of automated library system. These systems has proven that it can improve substantially the services that a common library can offer. An integrated library system (ILS), also known as a library management system is a system for a library, used to track, orders made, items owned bills paid, and patrons who have borrowed. An Integrated Library System usually consist of a type of relational database, software to interact with that database.
Then there’s user interface that would interact with user and also patrons of the library. There are also modules which include acquisition, circulation, cataloguing, serials, OPAC (public interface for users). These features ease the user of library in their research or other tasks. However these systems are strangers to most library institution in Malaysia. It has been implement in only a handful of institutions such as UiTM , UM ,UTM and few more private institution.
This scenario happened not because Malaysia don’t have such capabilities to grab these technologies but lack of marketing strategies to in promoting the use of such systems. Three main factors, namely the information explosion, the technology revolution, and escalating library costs are responsible for encouraging the library profession in Malaysia to develop a marketing approach in its operations and services. Some information service managers feel that marketing is inimical to the nature of their activities.
But with steep competition from other institution in the country, marketing is a factor for survival. There are some radical marketing strategies in order to market information systems library in Malaysia that can be apply. These strategies can be interpreted by the market the market targeted , extraordinary plans that could raise attention and also drastic measures from the national bodies and major institution and organizations. Market or target users for information systems library in Malaysia must be thoroughly defined first in order for the technologies to grow in our soil.
In Malaysia, the target public and audience would be mostly students which consist of various layer of education level. Their needs and demands in library services such as navigation, guides in their research can be fulfill through the systems. By studying their likes would help in plans of promoting the system and also could meet the target audience easier Introduction of the system or better yet the education of the systems’ use and functions to the public is prior in marketing the information system.
Malaysia has various kind of media channel such as the radio, television, satellite channels and vast amount of printed materials. Advertising the information systems in libraries by making a short clip with a twist of a little drama and education in the system’s role assisting users to their needs. The education should also be consistent and updated periodically to refresh audience’s knowledge and awareness from time to time.
Integration of information system through networking can also be a good marketing strategies for institution in Malaysia since the distance is no more a factor and a mutual bond already existed between education institution in Malaysia. This could help a wide spread of information system network which applies the same system and processes wherever its located in the country. This could ultimately be far more efficient for the users ( mainly the students) in using the system anywhere they want since it would incorporated the same user interface , functions, database .
Technologies has also developed a new kind of attraction for the users nowadays. It offers applications and software that allows users to interact with each other , socialize through wire, gain information and keep updated through high speed network. Information system in libraries and integrated system can absorb and assimilate this application in its chain of function which would be more interactive and give the users more experience of the cyber networking via an information system in a library.
Also, some more value add to the systems could attract more library user such as networking andweb browsing which would help the customer expand their search wider. There are also marketing strategies that could be implemented throughout government assistance is standardizing all the library institution by ensuring that every library in the country must be equipped with the automated information and integrated system. Although it is a quite a risky and costly for some , but the services would surely improved and would extend the image of libraries in Malaysia as a benchmark for other institution in the country.
The government could also help promoting and marketing this system by introducing it to the primary and secondary level education in form of a mini automated system that can easily be used by those ages of kids in their own school library which would familiarize and make them easier to adapt to the real system in the future. Another strategies in extending the information system is through the enhancement of library personnel ‘s professional knowledge and skills for marketing the information system and services that a library offer.
Library personnel should enhance their professional skills with technical knowledge and diverse skillset. This would drastically changed the user perception thus promoting the system in a way of its own. Conclusion is that these automated library system and integration of automated library system in Malaysia will succeed if the campaign focus on some important aspect of the process such as increasing the clientele and reaching out to them. Unless the information is used , it is major waste to the resources.
Other than that, always ensure that product innovation and flexibility always evolve throughout the period and the financial viability for the whole process maintained at a safe level. There should also some kind of awareness and cooperation in between major organization , government ,institution and the user itself . With all that , it would not be impossible for library institution in Malaysia can also change and compete with other international institution that has long exceed us in information technologies and libraries management.
Courtney from Study Moose
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