12 July 2022

Academic librarians from the AUNILO Members gathered to discuss the improvement toward being a User-Centric Libraries

AUN Writer Team

By Pattarawarin Srivanasont and Thanawadee Jankiew, AUN Interns

The 17th AUNILO Meeting and Workshop were successfully hosted by Singapore Management University (SMU) under the theme of "User-Centric Libraries in Southeast Asia: Designing, Creating and Improving Services, Spaces, and Processes for Users" from 5-7 July 2022 The events were held in order to share experiences between AUNILO (Libraries of ASEAN University Network) members on their journey to becoming a user-centric library.

Dr. Vernon Totanes, the Chair of the AUNILO Secretariat gave a warm welcome remark by recounting how AUNILO came together. He also gave his unforgettable explanation of the “User-centric” theme – “it is about listening to users’ needs.” In addition, Dr. Choltis Dhirathiti, the Executive Director of the ASEAN University Network (AUN), remarked that AUNILO is an online network of libraries that incorporates technology to develop changes to libraries for the public.

Timothy Clark, the Provost of SMU shared in the opening ceremony about his past experiences with SMU and AUNILO, he ended his remark with brief objectives of the meeting. Afterwards, Professor Emeritus Arnoud De Meyer of Singapore Management University delivered a keynote speech presenting the higher education landscape in Singapore. He discussed the challenges in higher education in the city-state and how a university can translate research into innovation, and lifelong learning as a pillar of education.

As the famous riddle quotes, “all the world’s wisdom can be found inside, but in which places do the next clue hide?” The answer to this riddle is the library. Every organization in the world values knowledge and education and so does AUNILO. To support competent human resource development in ASEAN, AUNILO encourages each member to appreciate and develop good libraries. This article will present selected experiences of the libraries across the ASEAN University Network on the journey to becoming user-centric libraries from this  AUNILO Meeting and Seminar-Workshop.

VHU-HCM Libraries, Vietnam has been praised for the effort in adapting to the pandemic by offering delivery and support services for students. Literacy training, workshops, and conferences are organized online to engage students in collaborative practice and self-improvement. Moreover, being user-centric libraries, extended collections of resources can be requested to provide support to students’ needs.

Focusing on the mental well-being of library users, NTU library from Singapore has created spaces for relaxing and reflecting to support mental well-being, called HYGGE. The library also has plans to use interactive robots as library assistants, which is a good use of technology in today’s world.

Although the number of digital resource usage has increased, the Philippines libraries offer an alternative for users who are not comfortable with digital platforms by providing printed materials on-demand from the library. Since the COVID-19 pandemic situation has improved, the library has offered library tours for students who have never been on campus during the last two years of lockdown.

To ensure that users’ voices are heard, Universiti Malaya library in Malaysia has given its Students’ Union a chance to put together and review a blueprint for future library improvement. Moreover, the spaces of the library are occupied as a meeting point for performances, stage shows, conferences, or even cultural dances. This can indicate that, for students, the library is more than just a learning space.

Indonesia’s libraries have their own distinctive features, such as unique user centre projects, online services, and performing user satisfaction surveys. If users were unable to complete the book-lending process at the institution, they also offer delivery services.
Cambodia's libraries respond to the need of the learners by providing spaces and various support. Also, they create an interior design and system which are easy to manage so that library staff can spend more time with students and customers. Students could request a consultation at the teacher support centre within the library as well.
Thailand’s libraries provide a lifelong online course for purpose of sustainability management, in which people of all ages could reach a great education. Further, due to the COVID-19 pandemic policy, a lot of libraries use fans or open windows as ventilation instead of turning on the air conditioner, creating an eco-friendly environment.
Brunei’s libraries are trying to upscale human resources such as librarians and infrastructure in order to let customers receive a whole new experience. They also provide the online process, creative spaces and services, consultations, and meeting rooms. In future, They have a plan to provide AR/VR gaming for relaxation.

In conclusion, one of AUNILO's aims is to promote competent human resource development and to support libraries in prioritizing their users’ needs – so-called ‘User-Centric’. A user-centric theme is shaped by an understanding of the evolving social and educational landscape, as well as the agility to adapt in order to meet the diversity of emerging needs. From all the country’s reports on the 17th AUNILO Meeting and Seminar-Workshop, it is certain that AUNILO has successfully achieved its goals. In the future, there will be more students and library users in ASEAN countries who are excitedly looking forward to more amazing changes.