In this article we argue that LIS education in the Asia-Pacific region needs to develop an appreciation of the role inspirational and communicative pedagogies could potentially play in providing key leadership skills. Furthermore, we suggest that one way to do this is through biographical narratives. At the end of the article we provide three examples of librarian biographies that provide a number of important lessons about the profession for future librarians.
The problem of education for librarians in Singapore came into being in the late 1950s and early 1960s as the country prepared for independence from the British Empire. Initial plans for a library school could not garner the political support necessary for their realization so that library education was instead provided through the Library Association (U.K.) and its facility for taking exams by correspondence. When the Association decided to discontinue this facility, alternatives were sought. At first a part-time course of studies was developed by the Library Association of Singapore (LAS) and certified by the Public Service Commission, but criticism of this programme led to renewed calls for a library school in Singapore. The rapid proliferation of digital information technology gave the library community the leverage it needed to finally realize this dream in 1993.
The rapid rise of Wikipedia as an information source has placed the traditional role of librarians as information gatekeepers and guardians under scrutiny with much of the professional literature suggesting that librarians are polarized over the issue of whether Wikipedia is a useful reference tool. This qualitative study examines the perceptions and behaviours of National Library Board (NLB) of Singapore librarians with regards to information seeking and usage of Wikipedia. It finds that instead of polarized attitudes, most librarians, although cautious about using Wikipedia in their professional capacity, hold a range of generally positive attitudes towards the online encyclopaedia, believing that it has a valid role to play in the information seeking of patrons today. This is heartening because it suggests the existence within the librarian population of attitudes that can be tapped to engage constructively with Wikipedia. Three of these in particular are briefly discussed at the end of the article: Wikipedia's ability to appeal to the socalled “digital natives,” its role as a source of non-Western information, and its potential to enable a revitalization of the role of librarians as public intellectuals contributing to a democratic information commons.
The public library system of Singapore has taken an interest in developing programs for the elderly, an increasing component of the nation's aging population. One of these programs involves the establishment of reading clubs. This article reports on a qualitative study of one of these clubs, the Seniors' (Chinese) Reading Club. Club members were asked to describe their reading behaviour, how they learned about the club, why they decided to join, what they felt they gained from the club, and why more elderly people did not participate. Three themes emerge from the responses: an instrumental view of reading or, in other words, a notion that reading is done for utilitarian purposes rather than intrinsic enjoyment; gender issues, in so far as club membership appears to have created a public space for elderly women, but not men; and social exclusion in that word of mouth is the main way that people learn about the club, and that its members appeared to be from a specific socio-economic group.