Status of Library in Thailand for knowledge base society
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The library in Thailand is roughly classified by the operated agency. Thus, both of resource and strategies of planning are difference. Each kind of libraries has their own purpose and target user group according to spatial and administrative status. A modern technology for library would that increases accessibility and efficiency for user, enhance more knowledge base society. In Thailand, the human resource development needs to fulfill the chance of learning access for all people. The public libraries could be at least a “Public reading room” for community to promote more information awareness and reading culture to Thai communities.
Structure and main activities of library in Thailand
Thailand’s libraries are not precisely classified. However, three kinds of library can be classified roughly according to the administrator agency. It composed of national library, university or research agency library and public library by government.
- National library: There are total 17 national libraries in Thailand. It operates under the fine art department, Ministry of Education. The national library provides widely knowledge facility such as historical document, social science, novel, scientific book etc. National libraries is one of the most important for people to access the rarely knowledge infrastructure however only 17 national libraries are available, thus it quite difficult for rural people to access it.
- University or agency library: Most of them are operated by university or academic institute, research agency or specific knowledge office. The main purpose of them is service to association’s member such as student or researcher. The most of main resource of this library emphasize the informal education material. However, the output or research work of each institute or agency is published to society in this library also.
- Public library by province government: Each province governments raise their own public library to service the people within provincial area. First provincial public library was established in 1939 in Ubon Ratchathani. The capability of service for each library depends on the local government budget and resource. Normally, large province can provide larger of service such as Bangkok Metropolitans Administration (BMA) established 22 BMA publish libraries, eight mobile publish libraries, 23 book homes. However, small sizes of pubic libraries are available in scale of district or sub-district to act as the network of provincial library. At the present, there are 73 provincial public libraries, 686 district public libraries and 50 sub-district public libraries.
The main activities of library in Thailand are same as standard library to provide and promote various activities to community for knowledge society such as promote reading and information searching culture.
In rural area, public libraries are used to extend education service for people as the center for the distant learning television programs via Thaikom satellite. The educational media is produced to cover both formal and non-formal education but emphasize the target groups in rural areas.
Accessibility of library
All libraries in Thailand are open for public access through under some conditions. For example, the national library allows only a member to access. However, anyone can apply for a membership. University libraries allow all visitors to access however to borrow books and material, it is necessary to have to inter library loan. Some institute libraries allow public access with entrance fee.
The available of libraries to cover and service to people is still less. However, the improvement by using mobile publish library unit could raise more possibility to communities. Not only in rural area that need to improve it, but also intricate of transportation condition area. For example, some area in Bangkok that river is the most convenient for transport then boat library unit will visit there every week.
IT environment for library
National libraries and university library has utilized modern technology information system to support the quality of service. An online public access catalog is available in all of them to manage (both of librarian staff and user‘s searching process) the material in library. Most of OPAC interfaces are being replace by Web-based interfaces, which allow remote user access from internet also. An online electronic journal system is available but only onsite access is permitted. However, the new modern of libraries provide more fruitful of IT environment integration by serve a electronic library that allow user to search and see electronic book or media via an online access such as Thailand Knowledge Park.
The service of medium or small size of public libraries still does not efficiently serve the learning needs of users in such IT environment. However, the software, Public Library Service (PLS: Educational version), is distributed to public libraries and other types of libraries in Thailand free of charge. Its capabilities are as storage of bibliographic information of media, printing barcode and library user card and backup system.
Efficiency of library
The efficiency of libraries has been much improve by adopt IT into library system. Not only onsite library is allowed for accessible, but also remote access and even transaction is permitted. However, a library in Thailand is classified by operated agency, thus its resource and budget are difference. In rural area, people have slim chance to read and develop themselves after out school. The public libraries in rural areas are act as the pattern of “Public reading room”. And the lack of professional understanding of planning and management of library systems and service are the reason of low efficiency of libraries in place of only a little chance to meet expert.
In Thailand, education system still cannot server to all people due to the resource and budget. Non-formal education system could provide education activities to persons who miss the opportunity to learn in school system with flexible methods and response to the needs of learners of each level in various models. In this case, the distribution of public libraries to communities could promote more knowledge society that do not limited learning activities to only formal education system and also sustainable learning social could be archived. Because of the lack of reading culture in Thailand, more promote of information awareness and reading materials could be improved in nearest source for communities as public libraries.
Sarawat Ninsawat: Graduate School for Creative Cities, Osaka City University
Surat Lertlum: Faculty of Mathematic and Computer Science, Chulachomklao Royal Thai Military Academy
Ref: Dadphan, K. The Work Status of Library and Information Science Graduates. Bangkok, Thailand, Chulalongkorn University, 1999, Master’s Thesis. Premsmit, P. Library and Information Science Education in Thailand. 2004年度第2回LIPER国際研究会. 東京, 2004-12. (online), available from < http://wwwsoc.nii.ac.jp/jslis/liper/record/thailand-e.pdf >, (accessed 2006-11-13).
Thailand Knowledge Park. Thailand’s Lively Library: TK e-learning. (online), available from < http://www.tkpark.or.th/th/oth/elbry/elbry.htm >, (accessed 2006-11-13).