ASSOCIATES (vol. 1, no. 3, March 1995) - associates.ucr.edu
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PACIFIC ISLANDS ASSOCIATION OF LIBRARIES AND ARCHIVES: TRAINING IN THE ISLANDS by Prof. Joanne Tarpley Robert F. Kennedy Memorial Library University of Guam firstname.lastname@example.org The Pacific Islands Association of Libraries and Archives (PIALA) emerged in 1991 as a response to the challenges facing those charged with providing information services in the far-flung islands of Micronesia. PIALA, a non-profit association, is comprised mainly of librarians and technicians working in libraries, archives and museums throughout the Western Pacific, but also includes many members from Australia, Japan, New Zealand, the United States and the South Pacific. The Pacific Ocean occupies one-third of the earth's surface. Micronesia, a collection of island groups in the north Pacific, is made up of the archipelagos of the Marianas, Carolines, Marshalls, Kiribati (Gilberts) and the island nation of Nauru. In all, there are 2,106 islands scattered across an area of 4,497,686 square miles but comprising only 1,104 square miles of land with a total population of about one-third of a million people (1). Island librarians face numerous challenges. Remote locations mean increased costs for all library and office materials. Mail and shipping can be notoriously unreliable, slow and costly. On most islands, the basic infrastructure is still developing. Consistent power supply is not guaranteed; telephone service can be erratic. Networking within one's own village, much less the island or the region is difficult, to say the least. Those working in island libraries are frequently untrained, often overworked and have limited opportunities for training or attendance at professional conferences. PIALA's primary goals are to encourage cooperation and resource sharing; provide a forum for the discussion of issues of mutual interest and to offer continuing education (2). Annual conferences have been held each year since 1991 at a different locale within Micronesia (3). Membership in the organization has risen steadily with 163 members currently on the list. A newsletter is issued regularly, usually three times a year, to keep members informed of activities, projects and upcoming events. PIALA has published a Directory of Libraries, Archives and Museums in Micronesia and a Union List of Serials in the Libraries of Micronesia is in process. The 1994 PIALA Conference was held in November on the island of Guam. The most developed island within the Western Pacific and the home of the University of Guam, this location afforded the opportunity for a greatly expanded conference and the possibility of a pre-conference workshop. Evaluation forms collected from previous PIALA conferences stressed the desire from paraprofessionals for more instruction. Recognizing this need for hands-on training for technicians and others running small libraries in the region, the PIALA '94 Planning Committee approached Dr. Harry Uyehara, Librarian at the Guam Community College, former Dean of the RFK Library at the University of Guam and a former professor at the University of Hawaii School of Library Science. Dr. Uyehara obliged with a two-day workshop on Collection Development for Small Libraries. Aimed at technicians, this how-to workshop focussed on the six elements of the collection development process: community analysis, policy-making, selection, acquisition, weeding and evaluation. Knowing what patrons want and need is critical to a library's success. With this in mind, participants were shown how to prepare and develop a community analysis profile to be used as a guide to a collection development plan. Sources of statistical data, such as Census or local government reports, and non-statistical community information, such as community organizations, were described. However, statistics do not always reflect reality. Quite often, national reporting sources do not cover the island nations of the Pacific. The design of individualized community-wide questionnaires and in-house surveys that take local culture into account was discussed. Because a collection development policy is critical to the systematic development of a library's collection, major elements necessary for inclusion in most library policies were outlined. An institution's mission, goals and objectives should be clearly stated. Intellectual freedom and access statements should also be included. Central to the collection development policy is materials selection. A philosophical statement on the aim of the library's collection to meet the needs of the library's target population must be created. A general outline of how selections are made, who is involved and responsible, and how decisions are reached should be included. Also, criteria for selection should be listed. A resource section of materials selection aids and review media was provided. Acquisition problems unique to the region were discussed at length. Acquiring or even finding out about local and regional publications can be the most difficult task for a Pacific librarian. PIALA hopes to help in this area by establishing focal points within each political entity who can report on local publishing efforts through the PIALA Newsletter. Collection development involves maintenance. Thus, weeding plays an integral role. A library should not be rated so much by the amount of material on the shelves but rather the quality of what resides there. A policy statement should include explanations for weeding and the criteria used. Standard guidelines for weeding by subject were outlined. This topic was of particular pertinence for libraries in the region who frequently find themselves on the receiving end of good-intentioned donations of discards from Stateside libraries. Finally, collection development involves collection evaluation. Inventory is a natural first step as it provides the necessary documentation for analysis. An inventory will reveal a collection's strengths and weaknesses. After the inventory, a thorough collection evaluation can be done. A comparison of one's collection against generally accepted selection tools can point out any gaps. Plans for PIALA's 1995 annual conference are underway. This year's site will be Yap, the most traditional island within the Federated States of Micronesia. A two-day workshop on small library management will be offered. PIALA membership and a subscription to its Newsletter can be secured for US $20.00. For more information, please contact the author at: email@example.com or by mail at the University of Guam, RFK Library, Mangilao, Guam 96923. US postal rates apply. Sources (1) Wang, Chih. "Micronesia Area Research Center (MARC)" _Encyclopedia of Library and Information Science_. v. 50, supp. 13. p.277. Marcel Dekker. 1992. (2) Cohen, Arlene. "The Pacific Islands Association of Libraries and Archives (PIALA) Formed in the Pacific Islands." _FID News Bulletin_. v. 42 (Dec. 1992). pp.285-86. (3) Tarpley, Joanne. "Pacific Islands Association of Libraries and Archives Conference." _Third World Libraries_. v.4 (Fall, 1993). pp.63-64. Article on PIALA '94 submitted for publication.