OF ASIA AND THE PACIFIC (APLAP)
(18-22 JANUARY, 2005)
HELD AT 1000 HOURS
TUESDAY, 19 JANUARY, 2005
EIGHTH BIENNIAL CONFERENCE OF THE ASSOCIATION OF PARLIAMENTARY LIBRARIANS OF ASIA AND THE PACIFIC (APLAP) NEW DELHI
Wednesday, 19th January, 2005
C O N T E N T S P A G E S
SESSION 1: CHANGING DIMENSIONS OF
PARLIAMENTARY AND INFORMATION 23-53
SERVICES IN THE THIRD MILLENNIUM
Announcement by the Chair …. 54-56
SESSION 2: RESEARCH AND REFERENCE
SERVICES FOR MEMBERS 57-125
· New Dimensions of Research Services in an
Era of Information Explosion
· Imperative of Reference Services
· Need for In-house Training / Refresher
The Conference met at 1007 hours.
(Mr. Ramesh Chander Ahuja, President, APLAP in the Chair)
Session 1 : Changing Dimensions of Parliamentary and Information
MR. CHAIRMAN: Good Morning, friends! I welcome you all to the first business session of this Conference. You all look fresh and bubbling with energy and ideas. Therefore, I am sure we are going to have a very lively discussion today.
To bless and guide our deliberations and initiate the discussion on the main theme of the Conference i.e., “Changing Dimensions of Parliamentary Library and Information Services in the Third Millennium”, we have with us today Mr. G.C. Malhotra, the distinguished Secretary-General of Lok Sabha. I would request my colleague Mr. P.K. Mishra to formally introduce the learned keynote speaker of this Session.
I may also mention for your information that the hon. Secretary-General has some pressing assignments owing to which he would not be with us after tea. We have a country paper to be presented on the theme by Mr. Thilakarathne. That would continue after the tea break. However, if you have any questions, interventions, or queries, you may ask them after the hon. Secretary-General has finished his presentation. Before asking questions or raising queries, kindly mention your name and country so that we are able to record them in our records.
MR. P.K. MISRA, LOK SABHA (INDIA): With the long association and active association that Mr. G.C. Malhotra, the Secretary-General of Lok Sabha, has had both with the APLAP and the research and the library services of our Parliament, he is in fact the ideal person to speak on the theme in the very first session of the APLAP Conference.
Mr. Malhotra's association with the APLAP dates back to 1994 when he attended the Third Biennial Conference in Bangkok and his association with our library and research services is even longer. He has served for long as the Director of, what we call, the Library & Research Reference Documentation and Information Service (LARRDIS) and has provided leadership in developing the library services in India on modern and scientific lines. Mr. Malhotra has had a brilliant academic career. He is M.A. in Economics and LL.M First Class from Delhi University. He has continued with his scholarly pursuit and has contributed immensely to the literary and parliamentary subjects. He has many books to his credit. He is the editor of Kaul and Shakdher’s Practice and Procedure of Parliament, something which is like Erskine May’s Practice & Procedure. He has a scholarly book titled Cabinet Responsibility to Legislatures to his credit. He has been contributing articles on constitutional, legal and parliamentary subjects in various journals of repute of national and international importance. He is the Secretary-General, Lok Sabha for the last five years or so and as such he occupies the highest rank, status and position which any civil servant in our country can aspire for.
Mr. Malhotra has taken keen interest in training and capacity building of all those who are interested with the job of strengthening the parliamentary institutions. For the last several years he is the guiding force for all the activities of the Bureau of Parliamentary Studies and Training (BPST) of the Lok Sabha Secretariat.
Recognising his creative understanding of the working of various parliamentary institutions, he has been selected by the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association (CPA) to be a resource person in several countries to work. He has addressed as such not only the staff and the officers of the Secretariats of these countries but also the Members of these countries including Nigeria and Kenya. I understand that he is going to visit Pakistan shortly, probably in February, 2005 to address the CPA Seminar there. Only last month, he was in Bhutan, on an invitation of the Government of Bhutan, helping them to draft their new Constitution.
With this brief introduction, I will request the respected Secretary-General to deliver his Keynote Address and I am sure that his Address, scholarly presentation, will set the tone and tenor for the discussion that is going to follow in the remaining days. Over to you, Sir.
MR. G.C. MALHOTRA, SECRETARY-GENERAL, LOK SABHA (INDIA) : Thank you, Mr. Chairman, Mr. Misra and friends. I am indeed honoured to deliver this Keynote Address on Changing Dimensions of Parliamentary Library & Information Services in the Third Millennium at this 8th APLAP. I have attempted a Paper on the subject which has been circulated. I am sure, you would have had occasion to browse through this. Before I really dwell on the subject, let me tell you that my association with APLAP has been quite long and I recall fondly nostalgic memories of my association. I had occasion to attend the Third APLAP Conference held in Bangkok. I have also had occasion to attend the Parliamentary Library Section of the IFLA, which is attended by most of you, and I find a good number of faces whom I have already had the occasion to interact with - Dr. Karl-Min Ku, Chinese Taipei is sitting on my right on the dais, and Ms. Aurora Christiana Simandjuntak, Jakarta, Indonesia is here. So also, with many of your predecessors, I have had occasions to interact. With these memories and the high esteem in which we have this institution of APLAP, I would begin to speak on the subject.
Well, the Changing Dimensions in the Third Millennium is going to be a very very long period. Of course, what is going to come in such a long period later, it is very difficult to say, but indications are clear, right from the last decade of the last century and in the initial years of this millennium, if you see the journey of library. Let me tell you, I have not been a librarian myself. I have been providing research and reference services to the Members of Parliament and this great institution of Parliament and had been associated with LARRDIS and was the head of the department. Only as an Additional Secretary and Joint Secretary, I have had an occasion to be in touch with almost every service of the Secretariat. But if you look at the journey of library, the ancient to present times, this can be described in just three words - paperless to paperless. Most of you are aware, if you see the evolution of libraries, initially they were paperless. There was no paper. The documents were in the form of clay tablets, bark leaves, inscription, etc. Basically these documents essentially were archival in nature and for communication of the leaves to the succeeding generations. Also this type of documents were used for administration of the State. This was the ancient type of library.
In the mid-15th century, printing press was invented. This revolutionised the use of paper. There was a world of publication and documentation. Printing material came and a new shape was given to the libraries with which we are very conversant until, as I said, the last decade of the last century. Indeed the print material is going to remain, in fact, for quite some time, if not centuries, a couple of decades, along with the paperless documents. There was a revolution, as you all know, in the electronic age, the present age and it has again become paperless and it is getting to become paperless. Documents now are more and more being used in paperless forms through personal computers, micro films, micro fishes and connectivity networking. All these modern libraries are introducing very fast by the electronic networking systems[R3] .
Apart from the upgrading of the computer hardware, there is the latest software, what is known as the ‘Bluetooth Technology’. I do not know how many of you may be aware of this ‘Bluetooth Technology’. Indeed, I, till recently, knew a bit of it as to what it is. But I did not know why it was called ‘Bluetooth’. Now, let me tell you what is this technology. This is a new technology, which connects electronic gadgets and the equipment. These are the PCs, mobile phones, printers, scanners, digital cameras and other PDAs, -- that is, Personal Digital Assistants, as we call them – connecting each one of them with the other without the help of wires or cables. It is connected through the short-range radio frequency. In view of the security environment, you may have seen that we have already introduced radio frequency tags on the cars, persons and staff members and with the help of these radio frequency tags, the entry is facilitated. So, these radio frequency tags help connect the electronic equipment and this technology lets these devices talk to one another within the range of about ten metres.
Why is it known as ‘Bluetooth’? I tried to look for this word in the dictionary. I did not find the meaning. Then I tried to search it. Can anyone tell me why it is called ‘Bluetooth’, before I venture to tell you what I found?
I tried to find out and came to know that this system is named after the name of the King of Denmark and Norway. His name was Harold Bluetooth. This King was known for uniting warring tribes. Since different technologies are being unified, different equipment is being unified, just as this King unified different warring tribes, the technology is known as ‘Bluetooth’. Now, in view of these latest advancements, the conventional processes of collection, organising, retrieving, disseminating and managing information are being replaced with faster and sophisticated techniques. Therefore, when we describe the journey from the ancient time to the modern time of the library, we can aptly say that this journey is from paperless to print to paperless.
Now, when we talk about the library – that is not my field, I told you – in Parliament, we have necessarily to see its association with democracy. Democracy, as we all know, is the most preferred form of Government and during the last century, its number has increased. The system of parliamentary democracy has increased. As a result, the number of the members of the IPU has increased. Now, what are the essential ingredients of a democracy? It is the freedom of thought and expression. And if this is coupled with the advancement of educational facilities, there is increase in the production of recorded material, recorded knowledge. What goes on in the House in the proceedings of the Parliament Chambers and Committees is articulation of ideas, articulation of the demands, urges, needs, aspirations of the people, the laws that are needed. Members bring ideas from the constituents, from their constituencies, articulate them here, media exposes them and all this leads to recording of the proceedings, production of recorded knowledge. All this gets reduced and produced into either printed material or in the paperless document and, therefore, there is need for rapid growth of the libraries. Thus, the libraries and societies are almost inter-linked – advanced society, advanced library and advanced educational facilities. It is almost cyclic. And you have seen the need for this in India. The democracy is functioning very successfully here. The parliamentary publications are proliferating. We needed an exclusive library building and we have it and you are here. You will be taken round different places in the library building. You will see that all these are needed.
Now, when I speak about Parliament Library, it is for the use of the Members of Parliament. We have to see, what are the functions of the Members of Parliament. It is primarily legislative and, of course, passing the Budget. But the representational role, the grievance redressal role is day-to-day increasing. There is pressure on the time of the House for this function of the Members of Parliament. Of course, there is another function of holding the Executive accountable. The Executive, as you know, in all parliamentary democracies, is drawn out of the institution of Parliament and Parliament holds the Executive accountable in plenaries and in Committees. Then the Members have the function, the duty and the responsibility to nurse their constituencies. For all these purposes, when the Members need to participate in the House for legislation, for putting questions, taking part in discussions on Budget and other subjects or taking part in Committees, they use and they do need different materials to speak at different fora. Who provides that? It is the libraries, different organs of the library, different services of the library. MPs need right information at the right time. And this information has to be of their choice. In fact, the demands are so much and most of you or all of you are dealing with them. They need the information at the right time for being an effective parliamentarian. What is the right time? It is the time of their choice and not of our choice. They would like to have it as water from the tap, open it and get it. We have to equip ourselves for their service.
The dimensions of the library are changing, as I said, from paperless to print to paperless. The advancement is there; technological revolution is there; communication revolution is there; but here the human angle remains the same – what it was, what it is and what it would be. Therefore, you, as Parliamentary Librarians, are required to see that you manage the demands of Members of Parliaments, who are your bosses and our bosses. This is not an easy task – managing somebody else and his demands.
Here, I am reminded of this saying: Someone asked these questions and somebody else answered this way: What is difficult to manage? It is daughter. What is very difficult to manage? It is son. What is extremely difficult to manage? It is wife and of course, I should say ‘spouse’ because in some cases, it is ‘husband’. What is most difficult to manage? It is 'self'. If you are able to manage ‘self’, you will be able to manage others and of course, your bosses, the Members of Parliament. So, it is most difficult to manage. If you try to manage ourselves in a way that we come up to the expectations of MPs, all of you can be ideal parliamentary officials. Then they will be happy and you will be happy. Happiness is a state of mind, of course.
This leads me to another saying. If you want to be happy for an hour, it is said that you take a nap. If you want to be happy for a day, go for a picnic. If you want to be happy for a week, go for a vacation. If you want to be happy for a month, then you may get married – it will keep you happy just for a month. If you want to be happy for a year, you may try to inherit some wealth. But if you want to be happy for ever, enjoy every minute of what you are doing. When you interact with your bosses, the Members of Parliament, enjoy doing that service. Then you will be happy; they will be happy. Then only, you will be an ideal parliamentary official.
Let me tell you with my association of 35-40 years with the Members of Parliament. Once you are able to manage them, they will keep you happy. They are very considerate. You have to show some little kindness and forget the small faults of somebody else, that may be of your juniors, then you will be happy and you will keep others happy too. Therefore, what is required is an undivided attention to the demands of Members.
As I said, the dimensions of Parliament Libraries may change and they are changing. They are changing drastically with the electronic revolution. But the dimensions of human behaviour, the human angle would ever remain the same. We have to manage that by changing ourselves. As I said, dimensions of Parliament Libraries have indeed changed. Now, we have well-equipped libraries. The documentation service is there; the reference service is advanced; we have our own research units to respond to the subject-based specialised information needs of MPs. Why are the demands of MPs increasing? There is a pressure of constituents on the Members of Parliament, and as a result there is rapidly rising information demand from the MPs. Why are MPs demanding more? There are several reasons for this.
The first one is the pressure of constituents which is rising. Secondly, their educational level is rising. I could give you the information of our House of People, the Lok Sabha. The under-matriculates level, which we may call, level of literacy – I am not saying the level of education because an illiterate Member may be highly educated about the problems and aspirations of the people – is rising. The under-matriculates level was 23.48 per cent in the First Lok Sabha in 1952. In the last Lok Sabha, this level has gone down to two per cent from 23 per cent. The percentage of graduates and above was just about 58 per cent in 1952; in the last Lok Sabha, it has gone up to 80.29 per cent. So, the level of literacy has gone up. Therefore they do demand more from the Parliament Libraries.
It is not only their literacy level, but they also now have higher information-literacy level. There arse varied individual interests in which they are specialised. In fact, they do of course expect more from the subject-specialised groups or tables.
Another thing that happened is greater exposure to the media. You will be aware that now plenary Sessions of many Parliaments are being telecast live. We have gone in for live telecasting of our entire proceedings, including the ‘Zero Hour’ since the last Session. Of course, we have started the experiment of telecasting live of different discussions and different debates since the last decade. We gradually went on increasing the live telecasting. But now we have exclusive channels for the two Houses and the constituents of Members are able to see their representatives performing live. Therefore, when they know that they are being watched, they want to perform better. For doing that, they do need your assistance and our assistance. They have to go back to their constituents with their report sheets or record sheets, five years later.
As I said, the Parliament Libraries are now expected to equip themselves with the latest technology. The information technology has, as I said, emerged most prominently in the last decade of the 20th century. It has had a revolutionary effect on the lives of the people across the world. We are all aware of that. In fact, IT is now the main determinant of the progress of the nations and individuals. As you all know, information is power. A nation which is rich in IT is likely to be rich economically too. Accordingly, IT has its impact on the Parliaments. The ICT revolution has influenced the way information is collected, stored, processed, managed, retrieved and disseminated in the Parliament Libraries also.
In this era of information explosion, all these revolutions – telecommunication networks, computerisation, satellite communication, Internet connectivity, etc. – led to a virtual disintegration of territorial boundaries and geographical barriers[R7] .
We do now have, as we may call, a global village. Let me tell you when there was industrial revolution affluent countries raised ahead and others were left very far behind. India was one of them. Those who could not keep pace with the industrial revolution remained poor. India was one of them. When the IT revolution was there, we had learnt from the experience. There were leaders at the helm of affairs and I do recall the then Prime Minister, Shri Rajiv Gandhi, was known as a computer man. IT revolution had just started. So, he spread the computer culture and the successive leaders followed it.
In the twentieth century the spectacular developments were there in Science and Technology. I remember how it went on changing in every decade. Sixties was the calculator age. Calculator used to be something, such an innovation, strange. Yesterday we were discussing with the hon. Speaker that we used to learn Tables of 17, 18 or 19. Now, nobody requires them. Even if one has to subtract eight from ten they will not straightaway say two but put the figures in the calculator and if only it says two, he will say two. So, that was the calculator age. Seventies was the telecommunication age; accelerating the speed of transportation of world images using computers for long distance communication, Telex, FAX, e-mail and so on. Eighties was the information age. The progress was remarkable and captivating. IT provides exact, expeditious and exhaustive information at the right time. So, we were leading towards the 21st century. As I said, periodical development of the hardware was there. In the Parliament library, some of my computer friends would always tell me to have the latest version of computer in terms of capacity, speed, mega-bytes. They went on adding, PC 286, 386, 486 and so on. And then came CDs, DVDs. All digital imaging went on adding.
As I said, the correlation has been generally cyclic. Rich, who were already rich, are using more IT, advanced tools. They have easy access because they have money, better reserves, and, therefore, they become richer and conversely the poorer the poor. One who is able to break the barrier, as indeed I must say with confidence that India is trying to do that in the IT revolution. Normally, a low level of economy has a low level of IT; medium level has medium level of IT and high level of economy has high level of IT. But, India with low level of economy is having a medium stage of automation. It does not have a very advanced stage of automation. It is, of course, leading towards that.
Therefore, what are the role models for the Parliament libraries all over the world, particularly for Asia and Pacific? The role models are the Library of US Congress, House of Commons, UK and of course, advanced libraries of Australia, the House of Representatives and Senate and if I may say so with all humility the Parliament Library of India. Other Parliament libraries are also quite advanced but the third world countries the Parliament Library of India can be a role model.
We now have a highly sophisticated R&I services, technologically sound, organisationally grouped or subject specialisation. Of course, my colleagues from India, who are the delegates of this APLAP would be speaking to you in detail whenever different Sessions take place on the topics so far as subject specialisation and different specialisation in other areas is concerned. Let me give you briefly some landmarks of our Parliament Library.
The Parliament Library has a very modest beginning in 21st century. Today, it is one of the finest, as I said, a richest repository in the country. It has a collection of nearly 1.25 million publications. In 1975 we made strides when the services LARRDIS was constituted with several functional divisions, all working in a coordinated manner. This library building was needed because it was difficult to stack publication. By the time the library building was being constructed, we had initially in mind the collections which were proliferating. We thought of 3 million publications, thought of 30, 40 or 50 years ahead of us and gave two basements exclusively for stacking publications. But by the time this building was constructed, this technological revolution was taking place. Therefore, at the right time we have made this library building and constructed it at the cost of 45 million US Dollars. Commissioned on 7th May, 2002, two-and-a-half years from now, this library is fully computerised. It has optic fibre based local area network and as the wide area network connectivity, connectivity with all the State Legislatures of India, foreign Parliament and with other international parliamentary institutions like CPA and IPU. As I said, this automation started with our visionary leader, Shri Rajiv Gandhi and followed by the successive Prime Ministers and the then Speaker, Shri Shivraj Patil, who is now the Home Minister of India as also the present Speaker, Shri Somnath Chatterjee, whom all of us had the honour to listen when he inaugurated the Conference. He is a scholar and an intellectual[R9] .
A big thrust in the progress of the library is there because of these visionaries. We are extensively using computers in our library. House keeping functions with our own local software package – LIBSYS, my colleagues will tell you details about this. It is covering all major functions of the library like acquisition, catalogue, circulation, information storage, retrieval, content analysis and dissemination. Just to give you an idea about the electronic equipment that we have, let me tell you there are 37 server machines, nearly 800 desktop computers, 428 laser printers, 55 Gist terminals, 70 Dot Matrix printers and then line printers, scanners etc. In addition, we have provided one computer, either desktop or laptop, to every Member of Parliament along with a printer, handheld computer, scanner with internet and e-mail connectivity. It is providing access to the entire network. They have internet connectivity and therefore have access to all the Parliamentary data base, Government data base and data base of other sources. We have now a developed digital library. We are talking of increasing collection of the library. First we thought of having 1.5 million and then we thought of having three million. It has now added a new dimension. The electronic library, the digital library has a different dimension now. There are electronic books, electronic journals in the shape of DVDs and CDs. They are available on the LAN, intra-net as we call them. When you go around this building or in the Parliament House or in the Parliament House Annexe Building, you will find a touch screen, called the Kiosks. Data is stored there and any Member of Parliament in a hurry can touch it with a finger and retrieve the information that is stored there.
Our select press clipping service – there is a very large press clipping service which is used by the Members of Parliament – has now been automated. Select press clippings on subjects of topical interest are scanned and kept on the Local Area Network in the Parliament House complex. This is indexed. We have now the micro-films of all Documents, Debates, Reports, Questions, our journals. We have then readers cum printers to retrieve that information. Any Member can himself read that and get a print out on the basis of the micro-films that we have. Till now, our micro-film unit has more than 1300 micro-film rolls and approximately 2.7 million exposure on various documents. When we went for live telecasting, a little later we had live webcasting as well. The proceedings of the Parliament are telecast live now. They are available live on the computers all over the world through internet. The storage, however, is still only on videos and DVDs. But we have simultaneous live telecasting through television and through internet.
Since 1996 we have our own Home Page with a large number of indexed-base database, and full text database. These are generated by the two Secretariats of the Lok Sabha and the Rajya Sabha. The major components and other details are given in the paper and would be discussed with you by my colleagues. The entire business of the House, what we call, the List of Business, bulletins, synopsis of the debates and the full text of the debates, Questions, the resume of work, some anecdotes of wits and humour are all available on the internet in our Home Page. Information about Members of Parliament, like their biographical sketches, their e-mail addresses and how the money under the Member of Parliament Local Area Development Schemes (MPLADS) is being used by the individual Members for the benefit of the constituents can be browsed on the internet.
About the Parliamentary Committees I would like to tell you that we have 54 Committees at present in the two Houses. Their reports and general information about rules, directions and about the organisation of the secretariats including who is dealing with what subject and all are available on the Home Page. In order to enable the Members of Parliament and the staff to acquaint themselves with the latest technology, we have computer training programmes organised by the Bureau of Parliamentary Studies and Training for methodical and technological upgradation of MPs and staff. We have the provision for video conferencing as well. The offices and the residences of the hon. Speaker, the hon. Deputy Speaker and the Secretary General are connected for the purpose of video conferencing. The offices of the Additional Secretaries and Joint Secretaries are also having the video conferencing facility.
Now having just given a glimpse about what the Parliament library has in terms of latest electronic devices, let me say that I spoke about role model libraries and I also said that the rich have the better wherewithal and they are richer and have high technologies and the poor the poorer. But then we have Regional Associations like the Asia-Pacific. I said during my opening remarks that there is need for sharing these resources at the regional level and at the global level. In the present era of globalisation, with the application of modern technology there is enormous possibility for the APLAP fraternity to share and exchange all kinds of information on parliamentary knowledge. We can exchange our resources in terms of both staff and material through meetings, conferences such as the one we are having now. It is because even with all advancement in the area of knowledge explosion and ICT, no library in the world, howsoever rich that country may be, can afford to develop on its own. No library by itself can become a fully comprehensive information based library and be self-sufficient in all respects. It is not possible. It may be an American library, or an Australian or a Canadian library, or Indian. It is not possible. It is a different matter that there are higher advanced libraries. But the highest advanced library cannot be self-sufficient and therefore, linkage of level of automation of parliament libraries with the economic development of the country which is there should be utilised. If we see even the Asia-Pacific region, it is a unique conglomeration of high, middle and low income economies. When all of them are there, any one of them cannot be self-sufficient in itself, the information can be shared. But of course there are constraints[snb11] .
The stage [R12] and level of automation may not be identical. Now, what is required is, linkage would be possible only when automation is there. Therefore, what we can do is to pool our resources and, if necessary, financial support can be shared. And we can build an effective Asia-Pacific information services network. The entire regional resources would be available. Going by the themes of all the previous seven APLAP Conferences and the contents of discussion, we find that, notwithstanding dissimilarities in the growth and development of Parliament Libraries of different countries of APLAP, every APLAP member is a complementary partner in sharing management techniques and professional expertise in catering to the information needs of the Members of Parliament.
Now, you may be aware that, on lines with APLAP, there are other Associations on the pattern of Asia - Pacific region. There are Associations of Australia, East and Southern Africa, Canada and NORDIC countries. Therefore, while we build the Asia–Pacific information services network, all other regional networks which are basically working within the regional framework can build their networks similarly. All these regional networks can then combine into a global network where all resources will be available and will be at the disposal of all of us. We have already been doing that in some way in IFLA when the Parliament Library Sections of IFLA meet every year. Regional Associations meet once in two years and, on that pattern, if different regional networks could also have some interaction to have a global network, that would be the goal where we would have done service to the democracies and to the Members of Parliament who are there to serve the people and we, parliamentary librarians, are there to serve them. Thank you very much.
MR. CHAIRMAN: Friends, we have just heard a very enlightening keynote address from the learned Secretary-General. If you have any questions or if you want to make an intervention at this stage, you are free to do so. But please identify yourself before speaking because the proceedings are being recorded.
MR. G.C. MALHOTRA, SECRETARY-GENERAL, LOK SABHA (INDIA) : I would have loved to continue to remain here and gain from your expertise and wisdom, but for some pressing assignments that I have, I am required to leave after tea. But I will be happy to respond to any of your questions or queries. Of course, I promise that I shall go through the interventions or the papers that will be presented later and benefit from them.
MS. AURORA CHRISTIANA SIMANDJUNTAK (INDONESIA): Mr. Malhotra, I am very impressed on what you have said. The aim of APLAP is to have networking, improvement and helping each other. Of course, it is very good. But what do you suggest that we should do as the first step?
MR. G.C. MALHOTRA, SECRETARY-GENERAL, LOK SABHA (INDIA) : We have already taken the eighth step by having the Eighth Biennial APLAP Conference. All the seven earlier Conferences held under your leadership and under the leadership of Mr. Karl Min Ku have been a process towards this aim. After all, in 1990, the stage of automation was not what it is today and we have been building on this aspect through every successive APLAP Conference. Once we share our experiences in each of our libraries, we are working towards that goal. Once we upgrade the level of automation of different libraries, we connect ourselves on the Internet. Then, in addition to the Conference that we have, there can be exchange of parliamentary official visits and exchange of digital library collections. It is not something that can be done on one stroke. It is a gradual process and we can keep moving fast in consultation with us, with our bosses and with the blessings of those who are at the helm of affairs.
MS. ROSLYNN MEMBREY (AUSTRALIA): I am really impressed with your concept of Asia-Pacific information services network. I would like to say that that is something that has to be developed as part of APLAP’s work in the next few years. I do not have a very good knowledge of all these things. But it occurs to me that we might need a host service to monitor, maintain and to look after the standard of this network. In early years of APLAP, Taiwan was very kind to provide us with web service and I am wondering if nations have the capacity, funding and knowledge to host a network of this type and to encourage all of us in APLAP and other Associations to contribute to that network.
MR. G.C. MALHOTRA, SECRETARY-GENERAL, LOK SABHA (INDIA) : It is a good intervention. Of course, as you said, I would include Australia, Japan, New Zealand, Chinese Taipei and other advanced countries as model libraries in Asia-Pacific region. We can have some exclusive session and greater interaction among each other to have a wider network. I have just thrown an idea and we will build upon that.
MR. CHAIRMAN: May I now request Dr. Karl Min Ku, Vice-President of APLAP, to propose a vote of thanks to the Chair?
DR. KARL-MIN KU (CHINESE TAIPEI): Ladies and gentlemen and all those who are present in this room, yesterday morning, in the opening ceremony of the Eighth Biennial APLAP Conference, we all learnt the philosophy and the ideas of APLAP. We had an in-depth understanding of the parliamentary librarianship and parliamentary library practice at the leadership level of Lok Sabha, namely, hon. Speaker, hon. Deputy-Speaker and the Secretary-General of Lok Sabha in the meanwhile. This is indeed a scarce experience of APLAP Conference.
So, first of all, may I suggest that let us give our big applause to him.
Mr. Malhorta, we thank you not only for your two speeches, yesterday and today's morning, but also for the feelings from Your heartfelt that we are cordially welcomed being here for the Conference.
Mr. Malhotra, your speech this morning brings some important thoughts and broader visions really for us. Some may become the guideline for our future cooperative works among the APLAP members, such as higher qualifications, increasing information literacy, better exposure and to build an information network among the Asian and the Pacific countries. You also suggested that it might start with a couple of countries.
Mr. Malhotra, you are the common friend of the APLAP member countries not just at this moment but for ever.
Thanks once again to you and your colleagues in the Lok Sabha Secretariat.
MR. CHAIRMAN: Respected Secretary-General, Dr. Karl-Min Ku and friends, now we will have a tea break. Tea will be served in the Banquet Hall. After fifteen minutes, that is around 1130 a.m., we will be assembling here again to continue the discussion on this theme. Thank you.
The Conference then adjourned for Tea.
(Mr. Ramesh Chander Ahuja, President, APLAP in the Chair)
MR. CHAIRMAN: We begin the proceedings, the discussion on the theme of the Conference.
Now, we have with us Mr. N.M.C. Thilakarathne, the Parliamentary Librarian from Sri Lanka. He will present his Country Paper. Mr. Thilakarathne has been in the service of Sri Lankan Parliament for the last 20 years. He has been the Parliamentary Librarian for the last 10 years. He is a member of APLAP since the very beginning, since the establishment of this organisation. He has participated in several APLAP Conferences. He has been contributing richly to the deliberations of APLAP. We are happy to have him here on the dais today also to contribute to our proceedings.
MR. N.M.C. THILAKARATHNE (SRI LANKA): Dear President and dear colleagues, let me first wish you all a very good morning and pleasant stay at New Delhi. I am pleased that I have the opportunity of presenting my Paper on the first day of this Conference. I do not intend to take much of your time by presenting my whole Paper now. Instead, I will present the brief outline of the contents of my Paper because the presentation of the whole Paper will take about two to three hours’ time. I think we do not have that much of time.
The Parliament Library of Sri Lanka was established in the year 1927. It used to serve the Members of Parliament and the officials of the Secretariat in a conventional manner. It has a collection of parliamentary literatures starting from the year 1873. There are very old collections of Government publications which
may not be available elsewhere in the country. So, the collection of our library is very important and unique.
As you all know, today the parliamentarians seem to be very busy people loaded with so many responsibilities. They cannot be satisfied with the conventional services rendered by the library. So, the need for application of modern technology to the services of library was felt several years ago. The first step taken towards this aim was the introduction of automation into the whole system of Parliament of Sri Lanka with special attention to the library services[m16] .
The[e17] dawn of the new millennium has brought many changes into our country. The concept of good governance and the advancement of information and communication technology have forced us to improve our Library and its services further. Under these circumstances, a modernisation project has been started with the help of UNDP.
Now, I would explain to you the major areas of this modernisation project. At the very outset, the mission of our Library has been altered to include the provision of information to general public. Our Library was earlier intended only for Members of Parliament. Now, even outsiders can enter into the Parliament Library premises. So, with the concept of good governance and transparency of government’s activities, it has been felt that the activities of Parliament and its Committees should be shown to the public of the country. So, we thought of providing necessary information to the general public. That is why we have altered the mission of our Parliament Library to include the general public.
Now, the Mission Statement reads: “The mission of the Library of Parliament of Sri Lanka is to develop, maintain and preserve comprehensive, valid and up to date collection of information, material, giving emphasis to Parliamentary, Government and Legislative documents and to utilise the resources through research and analysis to provide efficient and effective information and documentation to Members of Parliament, Parliamentary Committees and the Parliament Secretariat and to provide information on parliamentary matters and publications to the public.” So, starting with the mission of our Library, we have detected a few areas for modernisation of our Library.
One of the major areas is the Research Division of our Library. The Research Division of our Library was started in 1992 but it is not in an organised way and is manned by only four Research Officers. Now, we have felt and we have been forced to make available research services not only to Members of Parliament but also to the Committees and for various other activities of Parliament. So, we have decided to pay special attention to strengthen the Research Division of our Library. We would be recruiting more Research Officers and they would be assigned to do in-depth and more detailed research.
The other area of improvement is the establishment of an electronic library. The electronic library containing electronic documents that are exposed to quick and penetrative access would be developed by digitising paper-based documents and acquiring electronic documents from other administrative divisions and from out-sources. The electronic library would be made accessible via the Internet and intranet. The main demand that we have from our Members is that when they are away in their constituencies, they express their desire to get connected to the Parliamentary Information System. To facilitate that service, we have decided to digitise a major part of the library collection and those things would be made available to Members through the Internet and intranet. For that purpose, it has been decided to establish a Member Information Service, to which Members connect through their laptops or mobile phones; and sometimes when they are in their constituencies, through their desktops. Actually, the task has been assigned to a private company. They have to make the whole Member Information Service package to suit our requirements. It is under development.
The other area that has been recognised for modernisation of our Library is the establishment of a library archive and supporting facilities. An archive with necessary facilities and resources would be established in the Library of Parliament to preserve, conserve and protect parliamentary documents that have historic, legal and administrative value. When I introduced our Library to you, I mentioned that we have got a very old collection of government publications and parliamentary literature. Most of these resources are more than or nearly 200 years of age. So, they are in a very perishable condition. This is why we want to establish an archive. We are going to rehabilitate and preserve these old documents. With the intention of preserving their historic and aesthetic value, they would be stored in a separate collection as an archive of the Parliament Library[e18] .
At present we do not have an archive in the Parliament Library. By the end of this year we intend to establish a parliamentary archive with these mentioned services.
Then, there is another suggestion to establish a media library for the use of Members of Parliament. Actually, as I mentioned earlier, we were giving very conventional services to the Members of Parliament. So, with the establishment of media library, the Members will have a chance of reaching the modern facilities and information and communication technology.
Then, the other area which has been recognised for the modernisation is the virtual library. A virtual library will be created by developing web pages to publish textual and graphical information and to post portals and databases. The web pages are used for dissemination of information to the general public, to the parliamentarians and parliamentary secretariat. Multi-layer pages with hierarchical relationships will be developed for this purpose. The web pages will be linked at two levels – Internet and Intranet.
This is the main outline of our modernisation plan of the library. Actually, we have appointed a consultant for this purpose and we have obtained the services of ICT companies of the country. Up-till now they have prepared their final reports from which I got this information for my Country Paper. By the end of this year we intend to carry out these proposals to the effectiveness.
Thank you very much.
MR. CHAIRMAN : Friends, we have not received any other name for making a presentation on this subject. If any one of you wants to speak on this subject, please raise your hand and make your contribution to our deliberations.
I think there are no volunteers. I would request you to kindly prepare yourself for making presentations in the coming sessions so that every participant is able to benefit from your experiences and we are also able to have useful and meaningful discussions.
Before I proceed further, if you have any questions to be asked, you are free to ask and Mr. Thilakarathne will clarify the position.
MR. FRANK CHRISTOPHER, LOK SABHA (INDIA) : Thank you, Sir. What occurred to my mind from the Paper, which was an abstract of your detailed Paper is this. You have mentioned two things. It is nice to know, as our Secretary-General had mentioned earlier, about the expansion of Indian Parliament Library which was way back in 1975 when we expanded from a traditional Parliament Library to Research, Reference, Documentation and Information Services. Over the years - in the last 30 years - we have also added a lot of new services keeping in mind the need to cater to the needs of the hon. Members of Parliament, both textually and visually. Of course, you briefly mentioned about it. This is where the unity and the sharing of our information and services and value is there.
My question was that the Research Division was started way back in 1992 and you propose to start the electronic library now and a media and virtual library. If you could please tell us a little more about the virtual library, it will be good. We also have our services, as was mentioned, about the digital library here. If we know a little more about it, we can work on the plan for it. Thank you.
MR. N.M.C. THILAKARATHNE (SRI LANKA) : Regarding the virtual library, actually we have recognised the resources of the library according to the use of those things, that is most of these parliamentary literature which originated within a 10-year period. They are the most used parliamentary literature documents. Like that, we have recognised the most used resources and rarely used resources. These most used resources will be included in the virtual library collection, that is, Hansard and all these things, and they will be digitised and will be made available through Internet and Intranet of the virtual library. Likewise, the modern publications belonging to 10-year period, that is, Government publications, the parliamentary series and sessional papers and all those things will be digitised and will be included in the virtual collection. So, the Members can use these resources through Internet and Intranet. Actually, Intranet is the best way for use by the Members and the Internet is for the benefit of the general public.
As I mentioned to you earlier, we are going to make a package of Member Information System. As I mentioned earlier, this is still in a developing stage. When we establish this Member Information System, the Members will be able to connect to the virtual library through their mobile phones or through their laptops or their desktops available in their places. That is the situation[lh20] .
MR. NAZEER MAHAR (PAKISTAN): My question relates to the research staff in Sri Lankan Parliament. It was told that in 1992, four Research Officers were appointed. I would like to know whether that number has increased or they are still four. I would also like to know whether there are subject specialist Research Officers or they are generalists dealing with general topics. I would also like to know about the organisational structure as to whether they are under Library or there is some independent Research Cell or Research people are controlling the Library. There are these three possible structures of Library.
MR. N.M.C. THILAKARATHNE (SRI LANKA): The strength of our Research Division is four people now. Actually, they are not subject specialists; they are generalists. Our Research Division is a part of the Library. It comes under the Librarian.
MS. AURORA CHRISTIANA SIMANDJUNTAK (INDONESIA): Dear speaker, I think, most of the countries have the same problems as you have. I think, you may tell us about the difficulties you face there and how you overcome them. Maybe, some of the members can learn from it and we can move together forward.
MR. N.M.C. THILAKARATHNE (SRI LANKA): Actually, the detailed position is there in my paper. Anyway, I can tell you about it. Actually, there are so many difficulties we come across. The first thing is that the Parliament Library alone cannot face this change. The whole country, the whole infrastructure of the country has to be changed. For instance, I will tell you that in Sri Lanka, we have made a vast project called e-Sri Lanka. The intention of this project is to make use of ICT as far as possible and made available the benefit of ICT to the general public. That kind of infrastructural facilities have to be there to improve the conditions of Parliament Library.
MR. A.K. LAD, LOK SABHA (INDIA): Mr. Thilakarathne, you mentioned that your library is open for the general public. Since there are some security problems associated with it, I would like to know how you allow general public to enter your library. With the access of the general public to the library, do your Members of Parliament not face any problem?
MR. N.M.C. THILAKARATHNE (SRI LANKA): That is the situation actually. That is why, we are not open to the public. Our intention is to be open to the public through virtual library and not physical entrance of public in the library. Through Internet, public can have access to most of the information contained in the library. That is the situation.
MR. A.K. LAD, LOK SABHA (INDIA): In our Library, we allow research scholars to come and have research studies there. Do you also provide that facility?
MR. N.M.C. THILAKARATHNE (SRI LANKA): We allow genuine researchers, but they have to get prior approval of Secretary-General of Parliament. Then only, we allow them.
MR. SUNIL DUTT NAUTIYAL, RAJYA SABHA (INDIA): Mr. Thilakarathne, you mentioned about the Research Division in your Library and one delegate from Pakistan asked about it. I just want to know one more thing regarding this. The Research Division is also providing services to the Committees. I just want to know how it is being done and formalised. I want to know whether the Research Assistants or the Research Officers are posted in the Committees to do the work in the Committees or the Research Officers receive the request from the Committees on some specialised topics or something like that. Here in Rajya Sabha, Research Assistants or Research Officers are posted in the Committees and their nature of work is not different from the nature of work which the Assistants are doing there. There is no demarcation as such when they are posted in the Committees. I just want to know how it is being done in your system and what are the other activities that they are undertaking. I am asking this since you mentioned that they are giving services to the Committees and some other activities.
MR. N.M.C. THILAKARATHNE (SRI LANKA): First, I will answer to that point. I told that we have the intention of providing research facilities to Committee Officers. Actually, there are three Committee Officers in our Parliament and there is a suggestion that they must have separate Research Officers of their own. So, this has become a debatable point. The Secretary-General of our Parliament has explained that we are going to improve the Research Division of Parliament with subject specialists and generalists, all included. Then, you can have the services of these subject specialists for your Committees also. Still, they are demanding separate Research Officers because at that point even I was agreeable with them because the Committee Officers wanted the Research Officers as those people who can pursue matters very further, which will take about two or three months’ time. So, we have not yet decided whether to extend our research facility to the Committee Officers or to let them have their own Research Officers. Actually, we have not yet decided on that point[r21] .
The other point you have referred to is the other services. Our Research Division undertakes IPU and CPA related activities. Hon. Speaker, hon. Deputy-Speaker and Chairmen of the Committees regularly attend these Conferences. So, Research Division undertakes to prepare speeches for the high officials.
Another area is the Practice and Procedure of our Parliament. They are constantly watching and keeping track on those things, especially on Speaker’s Rulings and all those things. They are also providing various services to the other officers of Parliament in other wings like the General Administration. Those are the things they are involved in.
MR. CHAIRMAN: Friends, we have heard two very informative and illuminating presentations on the theme of the Conference – one by Mr. G.C. Malhotra, Secretary-General, Lok Sabha and the other by Mr. N.M.C. Thilakarathne, Librarian of the Parliament of Sri Lanka.
Mr. Malhotra in his comprehensive presentation covered the entire gamut of the theme. He dwelt at length on the evolution of library system from the ancient to modern times and explained how it is becoming paperless. In this context he mentioned that in the ancient times libraries used to consist of archival material inscribed on leaves and barks of trees. He also dealt with the technological changes taking place in the fields of information and library services in the wake of unprecedented advances in the fields of communication and information technologies. He also dwelt on the role of libraries in spreading democratic values and strengthening democracies. Of course, he also gave some useful tips on managing ourselves and our work so that we are able to serve our organisations and our Members of Parliament in a better manner.
Mr. Thilakarathne touched upon the mission of his library and the efforts being made by them to modernise the systems and provide modern library and information services to their Members.
After having heard these presentations we really feel enriched and realise that every day there are opportunities to learn more and more from mutual interactions and from Conferences like this. We are indeed grateful to esteemed Secretary-General, Lok Sabha, and Mr. N.M.C. Thilakarathne for having enlightened us with their presentations. I thank them for their excellent endeavours.
Now, we have on the agenda a tour of our Parliament Library to which all of you are, I think, looking forward with great excitement. Leading the Delegates and Observers on this tour is Dr. Ravinder Kumar Chadha, Director of our Parliament Library.
After this tour we would be having lunch in the Banquet Hall. We would try to meet again here for the afternoon session as early as possible, possibly by 2 p.m.
The Conference then adjourned for Lunch till Fourteen hours.
(Ms. Roslynn Membrey, Secretary-Treasurer, APLAP in the Chair)
MADAM CHAIRPERSON: Good afternoon delegates and welcome back. You will have noticed, when you came back, that we have moved your seats. This is a plan to get you to move around a bit so that you see different people and talk to different people during the Conference. We will do it at the beginning of each day but not at lunch time because we think that we might have confused you a bit when you all came back from lunch. So, welcome to the afternoon session. I hope, you can stay awake because it is a very interesting presentation from Ms. Katherine Close later on.
There are just two short announcements that I would like to make before we get on the way. I do not know whether you would be a bit worried about what the weather will be in Agra. I have been thinking of what sort of cloths do I need to wear tomorrow on the train trip. I am told, the weather will be the same as it is here in Delhi. We probably need to remember to take a coat or a jacket or what we Australians call Jumpers and, I think, Americans call sweaters or something warm as the first thing in the morning at 6 O’clock and when we go home at 10 O’clock tomorrow night. But during the day, we should be okay and we should be warm. I thought, I tell you this because I was worried about it. I am sure, some of you might be thinking about it.
The other thing I want to trigger off is that if you were enjoying this APLAP Conference, it is important for you to remember that you are all active members of APLAP. We are looking for nominations for new office bearers. If you think, you would like to help APLAP develop its conference and its plans over the next few years, you should think about standing for an office. In APLAP, we have five positions for office bearers. We have the President, Vice-President (Asia), Vice-President (Pacific), Secretary and Treasurer[k24] .
We also have a rule which says that if anybody is an office-bearer for more than two successive terms, he must stand down; he cannot stand for the third term. Our hon. President, Mr. Ahuja has now been President for two terms and so, he must stand down. He may not be nominated or elected to be President again. So, we need to find a new President.
Mr. Karl-Min Ku is Vice-President of Asia and this is the end of his first term. So, he can stand for that position or he can stand for any other position on the Executive, if he wishes or if anybody wishes to nominate him to do that. The Vice-President of Pacific is Ms. Jean Chapman Mason from the Cook Islands. She was not able to come to this Conference. She is just finishing her first term. So, she is eligible to stand for the second term, if anybody wants to nominate her.
The next position is for Secretary; in the last Conference in Turkey, we could not find anybody to stand for the job of the Treasurer. So, we clubbed both the jobs of Secretary and Treasurer into one. I was the lucky person who got both the jobs of Secretary and Treasurer. Again, this is my first term in both these jobs. I could stand for a second term. If anybody wants to nominate for Secretary or Treasurer, then please do so.
I have the nomination forms here. I would leave them at the Information Desk outside. So, you must talk among yourselves and see if you have got any ideas about whom you would like to nominate, get their permission to nominate them and tell us which position they may like to contest. Then, finally we can have election at our business meeting on Saturday, if need be. If you have got any questions about this, you can talk to me later, after the Session.
Now, it is my very great honour to introduce Ms. Katherine Close to all of you. She is representing the New Zealand Parliament Library.
MR. RAMESH CHANDER AHUJA, LOK SABHA (INDIA) : You may like to inform them about the deadline by which nomination should be received.
MADAM CHAIRPERSON: Sorry, and thank you for that.
The deadline for nominations was going to be the end of Thursday, the 20th January, that is, tomorrow. We will be on the train tomorrow and so, I might extend the deadline for this, till Friday, which will give you more time to discuss and come up with suggestions because our business meeting is not going to be held before Saturday. So, we still have got time till 5 o’clock on Saturday, to arrange for elections if we need to have.
But I think, in the history of APLAP, we usually end up with only one nomination for each job any way. So, we might break a record if we have to have an election this time.
SESSION 2 : RESEARCH AND REFERENCE SERVICES FOR MEMBERS
MADAM CHAIRPERSON: Okay. Now, let me introduce Ms. Katherine Close for the second time. Ms. Katherine is representing the New Zealand Parliament Library and it is her first APLAP Conference. She is learning a lot about what we are doing and how we are doing it, what are our traditions and why are we here, etc. She will be full of information when she goes back to New Zealand.
Ms. Katherine has been working in libraries for many years. She worked in Government Science Library in New Zealand some years ago. Then she moved to London with her husband and worked in different libraries in London. She then came back to New Zealand and joined the Parliament Library 2-3 years ago. So, like many of us, she has found the working in Parliament Library as the best possible job in the world. So, she stayed there ever since.
Her job, for most of her time, has been International Documents Manager, which means, she provides international documents service to Parliament and she has the responsibility for all the services to other Government agencies and the general public, covering both international documents and New Zealand Parliamentary Information.
So, with that background, I will ask Ms. Katherine to do her presentation now, which will be a Power Point Presentation, which means that the three of us are going to move down to the front rows so that we can see the presentation too.
MS. KATHERINE CLOSE (NEW ZEALAND) : Good afternoon to all of you and greetings from Moira Fraser who is my Parliamentary Librarian, and also from all the Parliament Staff at the New Zealand Parliament.
To everybody from the Tsunami-affected countries, I would like to say that you have been very much on our fold and we would like to offer our deepest sympathies. Our Parliament in Willington is on the major earthquake zone; we are also very close to the sea and so, this has reminded us of the risks that we face as well.
The topic for today is an exciting one. After all, making ourselves useful to our clients is the reason for our existence. We are all working in very challenging environment. In order to meet those challenges, we need to understand more about our clients and also understand more about what they do with the information that we provide.
This shows what I am planning to cover: a little bit about our Parliament, about our clients, our major successes, development service and products, which are all relevant.
My Parliament is very beautiful and certainly it is unique in terms of its age and architect. The collection began nearly 150 years ago, just four years after the Parliament itself started. We have had a lot of national functions because New Zealand National Library did not start till 1965.
This shows the Parliament House which holds the Debating Chamber. The Library is just on the right side of this picture. The round building is known as the ‘Beehive’, that houses the Executive. All the three buildings on this picture are linked so that you can easily walk from the Library to the other buildings.
My Parliament has 120 MPs; it is Westminster based one; it is unicameral. That means that it has only one Chamber. Our Upper House was abolished in 1950. We have had Mixed Member Proportional, MMP system of Government since 1996 which includes a very strong Select Committee System to provide the appropriate checks and balances. We have ten Select Committees. Nearly all the Bills are referred to a Select Committee and they are all nearly changed by the Select Committee. There are only two levels of Government; they are the national level and the local Government level. MMP has resulted in many changes when it was introduced in 1996. We now have a much wider range of MPs. We have a Muslim MP; we have Pacific Island MPs, Asian MPs, etc. Nearly 15 per cent of our MPs are Maori, who are indigenous people. Twenty eight per cent of our MPs are women. All our Governments since 1996 have been minority Governments. So, this means that the Government has to negotiate and make deals with smaller parties to get the legislations passed. The Government must listen more carefully to the people because they did not have majority. No party has ever been in power for more than 12 years or four terms in New Zealand.
Now, some facts. As you can see, we have just over four million people. Comparatively it is very small number. Geographic size is also very small. Some other Asian countries have too much than us. It is sparsely populated.
Ethnicity: We have 1.7 per cent of the population and in terms of total it is 6.6 per cent island New Zealand people and 6.5 per cent of the Pacific people.
Coming on to the serious matters, in terms of clients, MPs, staff, we can make general statements about the MPs that is true in anybody’s country. Firstly, they have wide ranging information needs. Most MPs are comfortable in all environment. They mostly tend to prefer to get information verbally as possible. They seldom stop being politicians in seeking political advantage and they use information to compete, most obviously with other parties but also with more powerful within own party. It is not hard to listen to MPs but can be more difficult to get them to talk about the things we want to hear about.
Because our clients have such high profiles, it is easier to fall into the trap of thinking that we know everything and we know about them and their work. However, we have several things to do to try and combat that. Firstly, we invite clients to talk about their work. We have a client liaison programme. We receive feedback on our products and services and we make the most we can on unsolicited feedback.
With regard to inviting clients to talk about their work, we have the practice of inviting three or four MPs to come and talk to us as part of our strategic planning. Sometimes we also invite staff, maybe staff from the Minister’s office or a Party Researcher to give their point of view as well. When they come, we just ask them four question to give them the start for talking. Tell us about your activities in a typical sitting week; what do you like the most about your Library Services; how do you use information in your work and is there anything you would like us to do differently? This has proved to be a very simple and effective thing to do and has really challenged our assumptions on what Members are doing most of the time with regard to the information we provide them. Another interesting aspect has been that different staff hear different things. However, on careful listening we can certainly find out about the challenges in MPs lives and the potential opportunities we have to support them. This year we have changed our plan. Normally, we have them come to us to teach us during the planning session but this year we are going to ask them to come a week beforehand. There are two reasons for this change. One is, these talks are always so fascinating and interesting that we would really like as many of our library staff as possible to hear them rather than just hear the people of strategic planning. The other is, timetable is very often changed as MPs are late and we have to fit them into the timetable of strategic planning session. For these reasons we are going to have talks from these MPs slightly separately.
What we have learnt from these talks? We have learnt that the MPs are information overloaded. They are always time constrained. They are lucky if they stay for an hour in a day at their desk. They tend to deal with e-mail first and so, e-mail delivery of services is a good idea. They are certainly very mobile. Talking to people is often more important than information and as I have mentioned before they do use information to compete between other parties and within their own party.
Now we move on to the client feedback. Client feedback comes in various ways: Anecdotal feedback, which is rather unscientific is still very useful. Recognition: how many MPs recognise you and your staff or the names of your products and services. One-to-one training sessions are very useful ways of getting feedback. We offer training to our MPs on how to use Internet or desktop resources. We do that on one-to-one basis in the client’s own office. So, those training sessions are very good time to get more feedback from them. Critical comments are very important to listen to. New Zealanders are not great complainers. So, we need to listen very carefully if we do receive critical comments because there are likely to be more unspoken adverse views.
There are other ways of understanding Members better; encouraging curiosity about Parliament, encouraging staff to attend relevant seminars, seeking opportunities, getting staff from library and other parts of the Parliament to talk to us about parliamentary topics, basically anything we can do to encourage our staff to deepen their knowledge of their clients and Parliament is worthwhile.
We have found that in the online world it is very easy for the Library to evolve into a provider of virtual services and for the library to become faceless. So, we have tried actively to combat that and to seek out opportunities to have face-to-face contact with the clients.
We have client liaison programme, which is one of the ways to do this and this involves a core group of library staff each being allocated a group of five to eight MPs. We made a personal contact with MPs and their staff. These library staff are also responsible for introducing their clients to new products and services and gathering feedback. Clients are matched with Library staff according to subject interests. We have had a client liaison programme for about four years now. Some staff are more comfortable talking to MPs directly than others. Sometimes it is also difficult to actually give an appointment to talk to MPs. We have to sometime cancel because of MPs have other engagements. Having a coordinator is also very important to keep the momentum going. He basically ensures the liaison people do what they are supposed to do. He keeps everybody on track.
Each client should be visited at least once in six months and have a face-to-face contact. People should be looking for any opportunity to talk with clients. We hold clients’ events from time to time for different group of people and different group of staff of Parliament usually with coffee and cake and occasionally with champagne and strawberry. Invitations should attract the notice and maybe the MPs come. We offer these events over and over again so that hopefully we catch everybody at some stage. We hope these events have become more useful by holding briefing sessions for the library staff beforehand. During those sessions we emphasise to the library staff that this is work and not party. We emphasise the key messages we want to get across to the clients when they come. We met the clients and staff routinely. So, once we have the list of MPs that are going to attend, we decide which staff are the most appropriate staff to come and in terms of the number we always try and have the list of the visitors. After these events we also collect the feedback. The valuable information is collected by the staff[R28] .
Another way we talk to our clients is indirectly, via our `branding’. So, we had a project to look at our branding which evolved into an Identity Strategy. Basically we needed to align our paper products with our online products but it developed into a more far-reaching project. Most important of course is the day to day encounters with our clients. Some of the things are being more face to face with the clients have been stressed, being a trusted source of information and crystallising things. The main thing is that we needed to be more straightforward in explaining our services.
We developed four very simple ways of describing our services to our clients. We ask you questions; we keep you up-to-date ; we provide information to search for yourself and we give you contextual information. Some of the other plans from our Identity Strategy includes having more photographs of clients using our services and any photographs of our staff will have them looking at the camera because in the past we may have had photos for promotional purposes of staff who has been working but in order to be face to face we would now be trying to have photos with the staff by looking at the camera.
The next point is about measuring success. How do we know that we have got our priorities right and we are using our resources on the right things. Parliamentary libraries generally tend to get very high praise from the Members and the users but we may be doing the wrong things wonderfully well, or there could be big gaps in what we are providing and may not be aware of.
There are four more ways of measuring how effective our services and products are. The trick in doing this is to find the right things to measure and things that will give you good quality data and an accurate picture of what clients really think without being too difficult to collect. We can take our current awareness product, called Infocus, as an example. The Infocus data sits on an Access database and the browser-based nature of Infocus allows us to produce reports on exactly who is using it and exactly what they are using. We can use this information to develop a profile and patterns of information use. If we see a topic is getting heavy use in Infocus, then that may prompt a researcher to write a background paper on that topic. This sort of reporting also allows our Resources’ Team to look at the subscriptions that we have and decide which subscriptions are still useful and which one may be cancelled.
A simpler means of reporting on how clients are using our services is just by requesting read receipts on e-mails sent out by us. The library’s new electronic clipping service has no formal measuring system. So we use the read receipt through the Outlook to see how many Members are opening their clipping e-mails. It does not allow us to read the clippings but it is some indication to us.
Word of mouth, though not an exact measure, is used a lot. However, to get effective word of mouth feedback, you need to have a good relationship between the library and the rest of the Parliament. We can also measure very accurately the use of some of the databases that we subscribe to from external places and we get reports about who are using these databases and exactly what they are using. So, these reports provide a lot of information about our clients.
One of the instruments that we have is the Triennial Review which is required by the Parliamentary Service Act and happens once in every parliamentary term. The Review looks at the services provided to Parliament and how effective those services are and whether those services are adequately resourced or not.
Another way of measuring success is by looking at the statistics that we keep ourselves. This graph shows the number of information that have been received over the years. Our library is quite old, but our research service is relatively new. We have had a statistician for more than 20 years. We have a Legislative Analyst providing Bills Digest Service for about ten years, an economist for about ten years. More recently, we have increased the number of researchers to 12. In 2003 we have changed the structure of our library and divided people into subject teams in order to develop greater depth of subject knowledge amongst staff as well. Within the subject teams there are both researchers and librarians working together. In early 2003, we were able to arrest the decline in the number of research requests and the libraries around the world have been struggling with this declining number of research requests. It has again started going up. What we have done that may have helped to increase the number of research request, we feel, is that the important factors that ensure that we provide research is that Members want. They want understanding of their needs, staff capability and building trust.
What services and products we should be delivering is another challenging area because it is relatively easy to start new services but it can be difficult to stop existing services. While some of our clients love online services, we probably all still have clients who would prefer everything in paper. So, I have just a few comments to make on that area. So, that juggling has to go on. We are identifying gates through which new services can be provided, evaluating new products to against the old ones.
If Members keep telling you about an information problem that exists, even if it is not in your area of accountability, even then the client obviously thinks that you have something to do with it. It does not mean that you have to solve his problem but it could be a good opportunity for you to do something about it.
We have a wide range of self-serve products and there are certain aspects of managing those. We are working on a better evaluation tool to enable us to decide where to put our resources of time, effort, energy and money to be able to prioritise what new services to start against the old ones. There are complex issues to be considered. For example, if a product has a small user base of passionately committed user and another product might have a large user base but lukewarm customers. Our parent organisation which is called the Parliament service has its own criteria for evaluating new projects but unfortunately it does not really match the criteria that we in the library would use. So, we have had to develop our own criteria.
The next point is about managing empowerment. All our clients complain about information overload and I am sure, this is probably a problem in most of the Parliaments. Whenever we approach our clients with a new service or product, they always want to know in what way it would help them and whether it would reduce the amount of information overload or not.
Information noise is another problem. People face a lot of problem because of this. Noise includes excessive mouse clicking to get to information; complicated log-in screens, ineffective search engines and a host of other things[snb30] .
The key method [bru31] to reduce noise and information overload is to provide enhanced customisation. In the past, parliamentary libraries had a lot of control over the flow of information to Members of Parliament. But nowadays, with so much online information, that control is no longer there. This can have a negative effect as clients can feel inundated with information creating a feeling of information overload. What we are attempting to do is to allow a high degree of self-use by clients and create tools that help clients manage all this information. Libraries and information providers need to recognise information overload as a significant issue and develop strategies to reduce the flow of extra information. This does not necessarily mean reducing the number of services or products we provide but it means ensuring these services efficiently and effectively meet the clients needs. We use some examples of customisation through Infocus and some externally sourced databases.
Infocus allows clients to select areas of interest and then when bulletins are published, an individualised e-mail is created including only the subject areas of interest to that specific client. Some of the databases which the library subscribes is to also allow profiling to be set up for a specific client so that they can specify a subject and the type of information that they want. Customisation is also useful for people who find it difficult to use search engines. However, a source of frustration can be that there is often a level of initial set-up required for customisation. So, with good client liaison, the library can recognise the MPs who are likely to have difficulty and by going to their office and setting up their PCs, we can reduce this frustration.
We should ensure that the products are relevant and meet their needs. In our environment, it is essential that the Library's resources and services meet and continues to meet the needs of the Members. In order to do this, having a good relationship help us. So, the strategies to achieve this include knowing the clients, listening to clients and thinking about what they want, targeting key user groups, matching the right product to the right client, establishing relationships, committing to training and listening to all feedback. If we do all these things, there will be a good rapport and good relationship between the Members of Parliament and the library service. We can hear this feedback and develop these services and do what they want us to do.
Quickly going into the current projects that we are working on, some of these projects are due to be launched in the next few weeks. As regards some projects, we are applying for extra money to complete the next stage. Some of these are which your Parliaments are also doing. They are digital new clippings, Bills in progress, Members and Ministers database, mobility, digital media monitoring, history and heritage, information and knowledge systems and existing product development.
Finally, staying relevant, I would like to finish by stressing the challenge we all face to stay relevant to our clients. With continual development in information technology and ever expanding options for our Members to get their information elsewhere, we have to work very hard to make sure that they keep coming to us and be relevant to them.
It requires us all to be on the ball, monitoring our environments, keeping up with new developments, understanding our clients, looking for new opportunities, and developing our staff. That is what makes our job so interesting and challenging. I do look forward to hearing from the rest of you on the working of Parliaments and get your ideas as well.
Thank you very much.
MS. ROSYLNN MEMBREY (AUSTRALIA): Thank you Ms. Katherine Close. I think you all agree that it is a thought-provoking presentation. I am wondering if anybody has any questions that you would like to ask Ms. Katherine.
While waiting for her to occupy her seat, I had just another thought about the nominations for APLAP. If you absolutely dislike this Conference and feel that it will be a total disaster, you might do so by filing nominations as office bearer because you can change the way the Conference would run the next time. You do not have any excuse. If you like the Conference, you stand for the office. If you dislike, you still have to stand for the office. Okay.
Has anybody got any questions to ask Ms. Katherine about her presentation or parliamentary library services in New Zealand? She has to leave by Friday evening. So, you will not have time to talk to her at all on Saturday. It is time for you now to ask her your questions.
I have got one question that I would like to put to her. Very early in her paper, she said that the National Library of New Zealand did not start until 1965. I would like her to explain a little bit about what happened to the Parliamentary Library when the National Library was established and the current relationship between the National Library and the Parliamentary Library. I think that might be of interest for all of us to learn some of these things.
MS. KATHERINE CLOSE (NEW ZEALAND) : I am not exactly sure about the sequence of events because I was not there in 1965 when parliamentary Library was established. But certainly when I joined in 1981, Parliamentary Library was part of the National Library and that proved really difficult because we were trying to serve Parliament and it was a priority of ours; and the staff of National Library had their own priorities. So, it was a difficult structure. In 1985, the Parliamentary Service Act was passed and we then moved away from the National Library into the system of Parliamentary Library which was a new organisation being established. Networking and Internet has proved much better because all our bosses were actually working with it.
You asked about the relationship between us and the National Library since we have moved into the parliamentary service. We have had quite a lot of liaison in the various functions that we carried on beyond 1965. For example, under the Copyright Act functions, we receive one copy of that publication. We would still do a lot of thinking. We were doing National Library functions for a long time. We had gradually come into the National Library. So, we had quite a lot of contacts in collecting materials. But in terms of service, on what we need for serving Parliament, we do not have very close relationship with the National Library. We tried to have an arrangement whereby we had access to their collections. We needed access at that time. We did something in a hurry like 40 per cent of our information was accessed by sticking to our deadline. The rest were taking time. The National Library was not able to support us very well.
MS. ROSYLNN MEMBREY (AUSTRALIA): That is very interesting. About the relationship between the National Library and the Parliamentary Library in Australia is very close. . They have geared themselves up. The way they respond when we ask them for the materials, it was very good. You can pass an Act for such co-operation!
MR. VIJAYA KRISHNAN, LOK SABHA (INDIA): Can you tell us about the organisational structure of your Library? I have a few questions to ask you on the organisational structure of library service. How does your service fit in the overall scheme of the parliamentary service as a whole? What about your staff strength? You may tell us something more about the interaction with the Members of Parliament and others. What is the kind of response which you are getting about the services from the Members? Do you have any self-corrective mechanisms built in your service to improve your services or have you got something to tell us about refresher programmes or training programmes for staff and things like that?
MS. KATHERINE CLOSE (NEW ZEALAND) : Sometime in 2003, we changed the structure of our library set-up. We have subject teams. There are two teams which are working. We have the International Documents Team. My team looks after the Parliament Library in providing international documents and other materials from an exchange of repository arrangements. We also serve the Republican Government agencies and people from Parliament. So, my team has got a lot of external clients work. And the Resources team does the acquisition, the cataloguing and that sort of work. I do quite a lot of work in the subject team like media monitoring and supplying the material. There are three subject [bru32] teams also.
There are teams on social policy, law in Government, economics and industry. Within those teams, there are researchers, librarians and indexers. They are all working together. So, the researchers are writing research papers. They are working with the Select Committee providing briefings and papers to the Committee. The researchers help out with some of the most difficult information requests. Librarians are maintaining a lot of on-line desk top services that we provide. There is a lot of information requests that come in. They help the researchers to provide information. The indexers are doing the in-focus job. They are doing the indexing of things.
MS. ROSLYNN MEMBREY (AUSTRALIA): Then Mr. Vijayakrishnan asked about training for MPs and the response from MPs about the services you provide?
MS. KATHERINE CLOSE (NEW ZEALAND): Yes, we provide training in the use of our library services. We are not providing training on the same scale that you do in your Bureau. We do provide orientation just on the library services. We get very good feedback from them. I have mentioned a few sections. There are four more different sections. The one that I did not mention was that there is a system at the Parliament library service called Servqal. A questionnaire is sent out to Members on random once in a year on library service. That comes back as a feedback as well. If there are new suggestions or new ideas for compliance, then we do respond to those and we change the way we are doing things and start doing things to accommodate that.
MS. ROSLYNN MEMBREY (AUSTRALIA): One more question. I think Mr. Vijayakrishnan asked you about training programmes for your staff.
MS. KATHERINE CLOSE (NEW ZEALAND): We do have a lot of training programmes. There are training courses running all the time on different issues, like using data base, desk top resources or sending people to training courses run elsewhere. We do not have a huge Budget. But we certainly do give training to keep the staff on board.
MR. FRANK CHRISTOPHER, LOK SABHA, (INDIA): Thank you. It was very nice to listen to Ms. Katherine. As your very name says, we feel ‘close’ to New Zealand. There are two questions. I also thought I will share a little of my thought which I have experienced over the years. I passed out from Benaras Hindu University, thirty-one years back. Then, it was known as Library Science. Later on, as we all know, it has become Library Information Service because of the technology which we are encountering. Your presentation was both oral and visual. It was nice because we could see what you are conveying to us. I think both of them go together, hand in hand. Our respected Secretary-General has mentioned it earlier. It was a beautiful brief history down the ages. It was a paperless society and today we are again heading for a paperless society. Maybe I belong to the old school of thought. Both have their advantages. Now, we can reach the information quickly. All of us are dealing with information, collecting, retrieving and using information. We are doing that in Parliament. The information contained in the published material and the information contained in the information technology form go hand in hand. You mentioned about information noise. This is where the positive factors and the negative factors stand. Now, if we run out of the system, which could happen, we are not able to reach information. We can reach information if everything is functional. It is very mechanical. Of course, it has an advantage because it reaches very fast. We need that. This is one of the problems we are facing. We have a very large set up of press clipping section. As you all saw, we have many newspapers coming. There is so much of national and international news which have to go to the hon. Speaker, Members and senior officials. Now, you mentioned about digital press clippings. Now, is it in an abstract form as far as the news is concerned?
MS. KATHERINE CLOSE (NEW ZEALAND): It is the whole thing.
MR. FRANK CHRISTOPHER, LOK SABHA, (INDIA): Is it the entire thing?
MS. KATHERINE CLOSE (NEW ZEALAND): Yes.
MR. FRANK CHRISTOPHER, LOK SABHA, (INDIA): When there is too much of information, you have to be selective and to the point.
MS. KATHERINE CLOSE (NEW ZEALAND): We do have extracts in our in-focus service.
MR. FRANK CHRISTOPHER, LOK SABHA, (INDIA): Do you have a separate section handling press clippings?
MS. KATHERINE CLOSE (NEW ZEALAND): That is a new service. We have done it on a trial basis. I think we will probably find ways of keep on doing it because it is becoming very popular. It is not a new whole team. It is being done by the resources team. We get quite a lot of this clipping service done from an external company which is supplying us with clippings.
MR. FRANK CHRISTOPHER, LOK SABHA, (INDIA): That is the fastest and the quickest form of information. The news is important. A book takes time by the time it reaches our hands. But ultimately we would still like to hold on to a published information.
Are they given equal importance? I mean the growth of your book collection or the printed material. Is it equally growing or is it lessening?
MS. KATHERINE CLOSE (NEW ZEALAND): We do spend a fair amount of money on buying paper collections. We have a lot of electronic services too. It is an interesting question. I suspect that the balances is possibly going towards electronic information. But we still do have very significant paper collections. So, I think, we are trying to cover both.
SHRI FRANK CHRISTOPHER, LOK SABHA, (INDIA): We have got to strike a balance there.
DR. RAVINDER KUMAR CHADHHA, LOK SABHA (INDIA): Mr. Frank Christopher was talking about digitalised news clipping. How are you doing it? Do you take a printed newspaper, scan it and then keep it? Or do you download the digitalised newspaper from the net and keep the clippings in the system? How do you go about it?
MS. KATHERINE CLOSE (NEW ZEALAND): I am not personally involved in that. I do not know have too much of the details. I have got a paper with me which explains that. We are getting clippings from the external sources. They are being supplied to us from the external source.
DR. RAVINDER KUMAR CHADHA, LOK SABHA (INDIA): I noticed an interesting phenomenon. Your reference requirements were high somewhere during 1998-99. Then, it started going down in 2003 or so. Again it started picking up. Is it that people themselves started making use of electronic services[r34] ?
They were more comfortable themselves and had less dependency on the libraries than what they previously had. Or, is it because of the restructuring that you had? Basically, what was the reason?
MS. KATHERINE CLOSE (NEW ZEALAND): We do not know anything about it to tell you. But we assume that the slide was largely as a result of the advent of internet where people could start helping themselves to things. We are providing a lot more information. We are subscribing to various electronic services and making them available through the internet. So, people could help themselves. That will start going up again with the change in the structure, in the subject systems. We make more efforts to give things to our friends. We make efforts to be face to face with the Members and we develop relations with them. We try to encourage them to know a few things. We encourage Members and the staff to have more relationship. We assume that does make a difference.
DR. RAVINDER KUMAR CHADHA, LOK SABHA (INDIA): I have seen a very interesting phenomenon in Australia and New Zealand. In fact, I have been listening to the Australian counterparts also. It is about interaction and getting the feedback from the Members of Parliament. That is a very positive phenomenon and that is a very useful thing because you are able to interact with them. You are able to get the feedback from them and all.
Two things always come to my mind. First, are you able to talk to a cross-section of Members of Parliament and then getting the feedback from them? Are you able to revive or restructure your services? Or, is it that a very few people, who are very good users of the library all the time, are again and again coming and helping?
My second question is very typical. The problem is that Members of Parliament are basically politicians. They have very limited information requirement in the sense that they have only certain information requirements. Possibly, they do not know what other services are possible around the world or provided by the librarians. For example, new services have been started. I can list a number of services. Simply giving a reference to a query with the help of e-mail or having a voice mail kind of a thing is one thing. We can think of a lot of services in the modern world and a lot of people are experimenting with it. We are also experimenting with a few things here. But they do not know a lot of things. They do not know what is possible and how it is possible. So, operating within a very limited area, they always try to appreciate what we are doing, what we are able to give them. Unless they are made accustomed with the new services and new things, how are they able to say that the services are satisfactory or very satisfactory or not satisfactory? These two important things always come to my mind.
MS. KATHERINE CLOSE (NEW ZEALAND): Yes, that is right. One of the things that we can do is that we may ask the Members to come and talk to us as to what else they would like us to do. Usually, they do not have many ideas. We are supposed to be doing that. They should try to understand more about many things. We have to help them how the office works etc. It would just enable us to use our own professional judgement better. It would help us in deciding the source of information. That would be useful. Invariably, you like to hear them appreciating.
MADAM CHAIRPERSON: It is about serving the clients, how you conduct them and how you choose the clients.
MS. KATHERINE CLOSE (NEW ZEALAND): Yes, we do have to be very careful about it. I have got a lot to say about a particular service. So, we are hearing from different sections and the entire services. This is very important. Otherwise, you get captured by a group. It would be at the expense of the other people.
MADAM CHAIRPERSON: Are there any more questions? Can I just remind you one thing? When you ask questions, kindly tell us your name and the country so that we can have a record of that.
MR. MOMKHLEM KHLEMCHAN (CAMBODIA): I have got some questions related to the topic. How have you collected documents for your office? Second, is your library is related to the Department/Ministry of the Government? Is the information more transparent or not? The opposition party in the country requires certain pieces of information. The opposition party wants documents from the library. Are the documents more transparent to be used in the debate?
MS. KATHERINE CLOSE (NEW ZEALAND) : The services we provide are totally neutral and apolitical. So, the opposition gets the information. The back-bencher should get the information required. The Ministers certainly have the resources of their Ministries from the Departmental libraries, from their officers. They have a lot of resources. They can call for the information. They do come to Parliament Library as well. We certainly make sure that we provide all the services promptly. We make an effort to supply as much information as possible.
MADAM CHAIRPERSON: The first question was this. Have you collected the data, information? It relates to selection policy, acquisition, retention etc.
MS. KATHERINE CLOSE (NEW ZEALAND) : We do have a whole team of people. We have a resources team. Those people are responsible for collecting all the information with respect to electronic data. We have policies on what we should be collecting. We have a recent policy on the type of information that we should collect. We then link it through the internet. We used to receive published information as per the Copyright System. But that ceased to exist in July last year. So, now, we have to collect fresh if we want. Basically, we do have to buy things. We are paying subscriptions. We have a depository library for a lot of Inter-Governmental agencies. There is the UNICD, the Asian Development Bank etc. So, we are receiving free information through the depository library from a lot of places. We have exchange agreements with some libraries of Parliaments of some other countries. So, that helps us to get international materials.
I think you have put a third question. You are asking about the relationship between the library and the public services of Government of New Zealand and Government agencies as well. Is that your question?
MR. MOMKHLEM KHLEMCHAN (CAMBODIA) : The Members of Parliament make a request for getting a particular document from the library. You do not have it. For example, the opposition party is there. It would request a document laid currently like the annual Budget of the Government. I want to make use of it. It should be clear and transparent[R36] .
MS. KATHERINE CLOSE (NEW ZEALAND) : If we are seeking information outside of the Library, we never say to whom that information is for. We will say it is for the Parliamentary Library. We never say that it is for such and such member. So, the person supplying us the information from the Ministry would not know whether it is for Opposition or for the Government Benches. We deemed to rely as much possible as on publicly available information. We do not deem to be getting into the area of classified information, not necessarily published in paper, but publicly available information that is what we get from the Ministry or Department when we need it.
We have had some problems and I think, Australia has had the same way. Sometimes we have tried to make a skull through the Minister’s Office and we have not been so happy to get that and because of that makes it difficult it for us sometimes to get information because the process slows down very much. Even though there are official information processes but other people have to wait. But again it is very slow for our purposes. It may take a month or so to have that information. So, generally we try and have good relationship with people in the Ministries so that they are able to voluntary help us in hurry when we want information from them.
MADAM CHAIRPERSON: It has been a very good session with a lot of very interesting questions. If you wish to put more question, put your hands up now.
MS. ROSEY SAILO DAMODARAN, RAJYA SABHA, INDIA: Since you asked, I thought I would just mention something. It is a very small question.
You have said that you are about 60 staff for 120 Members of Parliament; so certainly you are not understaffed.
MS. KATHERINE CLOSE (NEW ZEALAND) : Not all the time.
MS. ROSEY SAILO DAMODARAN, RAJYA SABHA, INDIA: We have 224 Members right now and we are about 27 of us. That is the difference. I just wanted to ask you a small question whether your Library cater to the needs of Parliament only for House related subjects like the information that they may need to use in the Parliament for the debates or in the Committees or do you cater to their need also which they may want to use in other fora outside in their constituencies or anywhere else.
Secondly, I would like to know whether your Library include among its activities, subjects related to Press and media publicity, like we have in Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha.
MS. KATHERINE CLOSE (NEW ZEALAND) : No, we do not restrict ourselves just to what we are doing in the House or in the Committees. We do provide them information for their constituency work as well. You know, we have quite a broad definition of what Parliamentary business is basically. So anything that is related to the working of the Member of Parliament whether it is community speeches, providing information to their constituents, we help them with that as well. We try not to help them with their daughters’ projects, etc. but yes we do have a broad definition of what we have to do with their Parliamentary work.
Secondly, with regard to your media related question, we do not have a media monitoring service where we record TV and Radio programmes and we replay those back to the Members of Parliament, if they want to see a particular TV programme or want to listen to a particular radio programme. We keep a collection of Press Releases from all different Ministers in the only place that we have for them. But we make sure that we have space for all of them.
MS. ROSEY SAILO DAMODARAN, RAJYA SABHA, INDIA: So, you do not have the relationship with media, like for publicity matters.
MS. KATEHRINE CLOSE (NEW ZEALAND) : No, the Ministers have their own Press Officers in the parties in which they have Press people.
MR. FRANK CHRISTOPHER, LOK SABHA (INDIA) : The post you hold is International Documents Manager and what I gather is that it must be the exchange programme publications/documents we receive from countries. Is it only the Parliamentary documents or is it all general publications?
Secondly, as far as classification or your retention is concerned, what classification schemes you still continue to use, both for printed documents and documents in other formats that you are using?
MS. KATHERINE CLOSE (NEW ZEALAND) : With some countries, that is, just as Parliamentary documents we are receiving by exchange agreements. But with other countries we have more comprehensive arrangement which bring in Government documents of all sorts and things from all different Government agencies of those countries, most particularly Australia, Canada, US and it used to be UK. But it cut its exchanges in 1990s. So now we just buy what we need from the UK. But from other countries, like US, Australia and Canada we are still receiving a wide range of Government publications and not just parliamentary papers.
As far as classification system is concerned, we used to have a system where we catalogued all these and we have our own subjects just as the House of Commons.
MADAM CHAIRPERSON: Anything else to ask. It has been a very great session because you have asked such interesting questions. I am now going to ask a colleague from Pakistan Mr. Nazeer Mahar to move a Vote of Thanks to Ms. Katherine Close.
MR. NAZEER MAHAR (PAKISTAN) : I hope you must have enjoyed the presentation of Ms. Katherine Close on making Parliamentary Information Services more useful. It was indeed a very comprehensive presentation done in a very interesting way using marketing terminology of clients and products. She dilated upon ways and means to make Information Services useful for ultimate clients, which are the Parliamentarians. The presentation of this quality can only be made by someone as experienced and as knowledgeable as Ms. Katherine Close is.
On behalf of APLAP delegates, I would like to extend hearty thanks to Ms. Katherine Close for making a very rich and significant contribution to the theme of this APLAP Conference. Thank you very much.
MADAM CHAIRPERSON: We have a little bit time before our Afternoon Tea-break. After Tea we are scheduled to have five country reports, so I thought we might get one of those country reports before Tea and then we might finish a little bit early so that we can have some rest before dinner. Now, I am going to call Ms. Rasieli Bau from Fiji to present her country paper to us[r38] .
MS. RASIELI BAU (FIJI): A very good afternoon to all of you. First of all, on behalf of the Speaker, the President of the Senate, the Secretary-General and staff of the Parliament of Fiji Islands, I would like to take this opportunity to convey our deepest sympathy to the Parliament of India and to my colleagues from other Asian countries who are here with us affected by the Tsunami. Our thoughts and prayers are with you.
This is my introduction this afternoon. The importance of providing Members of Parliament with relevant information along with impartial and independent quality advice and analysis on issues being dealt with by their respective Parliaments is generally accepted. We all know that the timely and efficient provision of these services enable parliamentarians to successfully perform their functions, as elected representatives of the people.
My address to you this afternoon will focus primarily on the provision of parliamentary research services in the Fiji Islands from its early development to where it is today, as it attempts to deal with some of the issues under discussion in this session. Those of you from the small developing States like Fiji should be able to relate to the experience of Fiji’s Parliamentary Library, Research, Information and Advisory Service which has the added responsibility of trying to provide quality research and reference services with very limited financial and human resources.
Today, the Members of Parliament, even those in small developing democracies, are now able to obtain information from many other sources most notably the Internet. In Fiji, the explosion of information is still fairly new to us. It was only two years ago that the Parliament of the Fiji Islands established its own IT Computer Network allowing all Members of Parliament and some selected staff of the Legislature continuous access to e-mail and Internet facilities. Prior to 2003, aside from Cabinet Members, very few Members of Parliament had direct access to the Internet while library and research staff had access only through the support from the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and connection to their server. Along with the increase in Internet access and use, there are now many other sources of information for Members of Parliament in Fiji that did not previously exist starting from the increased availability of private sector consultants and the many non-governmental organisations (NGOs) that have now been established, who are now becoming very effective lobby groups for their areas of interest, to the growth of our media industry.
It has been noted that when the information explosion began to occur in many developed countries, there was some debate on whether parliamentary research and information services were actually still needed and whether resources allocated to them should be utilised in other areas? Of course, it has always been generally accepted that parliamentary information and research services are vital to the work of any Parliament and are now needed more than ever to ensure parliamentarians receive information and advice that is relevant to their work. However, for a small parliamentary library, research and advisory services like that of Fiji, the increased availability of other information sources has at times made it difficult to justify an increase and improvement in our limited resources to enhance the quality of our service both in terms of equipment as well as the ongoing training of personnel.
Now, I will come to Library, Research, Information and Advisory Services for the Parliament of Fiji. I have read articles that describe some parliamentary library and research services that employ between 20 and 30 Information Specialists and about 20 Research Analysts as being small. Well, research and information services for the Parliament of the Fiji Islands consist of two sections—the Library and the Information, Research and Advisory Services Unit, which currently employs six personnel, five library staff, two of whom can be described as Information Specialists with relevant training and experience and one Research Analyst. These personnel must respond to the information and the needs of 74 Members. This figure of 74 excludes the 28 Cabinet Members who occasionally use our services. We also have sector standing committees, select and ad hoc parliamentary committees, two presiding officers and the Secretariat of the Parliament of Fiji.
Now, I will come to Parliamentary Library. The Parliamentary Library has existed since our Parliament was first established in November 1970 when Fiji gained its Independence from the United Kingdom. When it was first established, the primary purpose of the Library was to maintain and preserve records of all the parliamentary proceedings including the historical records of the various Legislative Councils that existed during colonialism. In fact, the primary users of the Parliamentary Library were in fact other Government Departments and, to a lesser extent, the general public, rather than Members of Parliament, who required access to official parliamentary documents, namely records of parliamentary debates and select committee reports.
In fact, it was not until the construction of the Fiji’s parliamentary complex in 1992, which provided for adequate library facilities, that the Legislative Department began to consider the information requirements and more importantly the needs of the Members of Parliament.
Now, I come to Information, Research and Advisory Services Unit. Of course, one of the most important developments for our Parliamentary Library was the establishment of its own Research, Information and Advisory Services Unit, or at least this would be the case when the Research Unit actually operates with its full compliment of staff. Like many developing democracies, the Parliamentary Library’s Research Unit is still fairly new when compared with other parliamentary research services. It was established in 1997 and through international assistance from the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the Australian Government through AusAid and the New Zealand Government who provided funding for both personnel and equipment for the Unit’s first two years of operations.
The setting up of the Research Unit came about as a result of recommendations made in a UNDP Report on the Information and Communication Needs of Parliament of Fiji prepared by a consultant from the Australian Parliamentary Information and Research Service. The Report recommended that Fiji’s Parliament should consider as a matter of urgency, the establishment of a small research service with technical support to perform multiple roles, comprising four to five personnel appointed to meet the research and advisory needs of Parliament.
The current structure of the Research Unit comprises four positions, three Analysts and a Media Public Affairs Officer. The functions of the Unit are similar to other parliamentary information and research services. For Research Analysts, the primary role is the production of papers for general distribution in particular briefs on all Bills tabled along with fact sheets, briefing notes and background papers on issues of national importance and to undertake research and advisory services for all the Members of Parliament. The Media Public Affairs Officer is, of course, responsible for all public relations for Parliament which now includes the management of Fiji’s Parliament website which was launched in 2003[m39] .
To[r40] date, for various reasons, there has always been a high turnover of personnel from the Unit. In actual fact, apart from brief periods in 1999 and 2003, the Research Unit, since its establishment has never had a full compliment of staff. It has therefore not been possible, even after eight years in operation, to determine whether or not the Research Unit operating with its ful compliment would be able to adequately service the research needs of Members.
With the information explosion and other information source options now available to Members, this issue is now more critical for our Research Unit. Basically, because of a lack of personnel, the Research Unit has always struggled with its primary roles. Currently, with only one Research Analyst, the Research Unit only produces one set of papers for general distribution on a regular basis, which are comprehensive legislation briefs on all Bills tabled in Parliament. Given the fact that our one Research Analyst has a legal background, Members of Parliament are at least receiving independent analysis and advice on the legal implications of Bills proposed by the Government.
The following experiences of Fiji’s Parliamentary Research Unit may be considered relevant when dealing with the need for new dimensions of research services to deal with the information explosion and the need for effective reference services.
Firstly, the Research Unit was fortunate to receive the assistance of a consultant from the Australian Parliamentary Information and Research Service not only when being established but also through follow-up visits to monitor its performance. The Research Unit is therefore familiar with the characteristics of the Australian Commonwealth Parliamentary Information and Research Service for dealing with and managing research requests and the standard of quality expected. It has attempted since its establishment to apply these methods within its limited resources.
Secondly, due to these limited resources, the use of reference notes or briefs, when appropriate to respond to requests, are now being used in greater frequency by the Research Unit. Where it concerns relevant websites on the Internet, Members, due to lack of experience and knowledge on the use of the Internet, still expect the relevant information to be retrieved for them. The staff of the library or Government and Opposition Office staff usually perform this function. Networking and developing contacts with NGOs, Government Departments, statutory bodies and other relevant organisations is considered crucial to being kept informed of relevant, up to date information, reports and other publications that exists on a particular subject.
As a result of servicing a small Parliament, the Research Unit has been able to adopt the personalised service approach more easily. When required, researchers are easily able to have direct access to all Members of Parliament. This has assisted the Unit in being able to provide a service that is more suited to the information and research needs of Members. Also, along with the use of reference notes and briefs, it has assisted the Unit in being able to manage and cope as best as it can with the number of research requests, particularly during the sittings of both Houses of Parliament.
Direct access to Members has allowed researchers to more easily adhere to its internal rules regarding its service to Members, such as the first come first served rule and the placing of limitations on the extent of the advice and analysis provided. The Research Unit is also in a position to obtain constant feedback from Members on whether they are satisfied with research and reference services offered, which gives them the opportunity to make necessary adjustments, where needed.
Lastly, another factor that has assisted the Research Unit is that many issues dealt with by our Parliament, particularly in relation to our international obligations, have already been dealt with by Parliaments in more developed jurisdictions. The background papers on these issues by research services of these Parliaments have been useful in allowing the Research Unit to quickly determine the relevant issues pertaining to a particular topic and provide advice and analysis on them in the local context. The availability of these background papers on parliamentary websites is always a valuable source of information for our Research Unit. Networking with other parliamentary and information services has also benefited our Research Unit and I acknowledge the assistance of both the Australian and New Zealand Parliamentary Research Services in their on-going assistance for some of our research requests.
There is very little that I can say with regard to in-house training and refresher programmes for researchers in our Research Unit. Today, research analysts are usually recruited from other Government Ministries and Departments and usually do not stay long as better opportunities to advance within the civil service usually present themselves. It has been determined that recruitment from the private sector is unlikely to solve the problem, as the profile of the position usually puts researchers in contact with organisations, in particular international agencies, that eventually lead to better employment opportunities. So, a high turnover of staff is a problem that is likely to always affect the capacity of Fiji’s Parliamentary Research Unit to provide adequate research services for the Parliament of Fiji. Given this fact, it may seem like on-going training and refresher programmes would be a waste of time for researchers who are not going to remain in the Research Unit for long. Furthermore, apart from assistance from international agencies, there are not many avenues available locally for in-house training and refresher programmes.
However, there is little doubt that in-house training and refresher programmes would benefit our research analysts. Attachments to parliamentary research and information services of other parliaments have provided our researchers with valuable experience in the past and visits by researchers from move developed parliaments have always been useful. Despite the high turnover of staff, short attachments, in-house training and refresher programmes can still provide parliamentary researchers, particularly in our case, with valuable experience needed to perform their functions, at least while they are still employed by the Parliament of Fiji.
In conclusion, there is little doubt, at least in my mind, of the importance of our Information, Research and Advisory Services Unit to met the information and research needs of Parliament of Fiji. However, with the increased availability of other sources of information for Members of Parliament, the Unit is now under greater pressure to produce quality research and reference services that satisfy the needs of Members.
The guidelines put in place for the provision of its services when the Unit was established are still relevant today. However, some adjustments might be necessary in the future as Members become more accustomed to the use of the Internet. I look forward to the discussion and exchange of ideas during this session, which hopefully would provide our Information, Research and Advisory Services Unit with some useful guidance on how to improve the provision and quality of its services to the Parliament of Fiji. I thank all of you for your indulgence.
MADAM CHAIRPERSON: Thank you for a thoughtful presentation. I think, two things stood out in that paper. The first was the huge contrast between the libraries of APLAP. We listened to Ms. Rasieli Bau talk about the size of the library and the number of staff she has. Compared with the building we are in today, an entire building devoted to library and associated services, we seem to strike a balance between these two extremes when we bring everybody together for an APLAP Conference. I think, that is an achievement in itself.
The second thing that struck me when she was speaking, rather croaking through her sore throat, was her reference to using papers of other parliamentary library websites. I think, this is what the Secretary-General of the Lok Sabha was talking about this morning – the Asia-Pacific Information Service Netowrk. They do not have enough staff in Fiji but they are using the best of the resources they have and they are maximising the use of other parliamentary information systems, which I think is very clever and good thinking[r41] .
I am sure the members of Parliament appreciate the effort they put into it.
I do not want to strain Ms. Rasieli’s voice too much. But if any of you have any questions, you may like to ask her before I move to afternoon tea.
MR. SUNIL DUTT NAUTIYAL, RAJYA SABHA (INDIA) : I want to know whether you have any provision for the training of the members on the services that your Library provides to the members. Do you organise such training programmes for the members, particularly the new members relating to the services provided by your Parliament Library? I also want to know whether they are also given training on the rules of procedure to such new members.
Secondly, you said that you have got research staff, research analysts who provide legal advice to the members relating to the drafting of the Bills. How is it being done there? It is a new thing that you have got there.
MS. RASIELI BAU (FIJI) : I will go first to your first question on services to members. Normally after every election we have an orientation programme. Does that answer your question? It is an orientation programme for members of both Houses. We have 72 members in the Lower House and we have a small Library. What we normally do is we allocate time for ten members each at a particular time. Ten members are allowed for one hour and another ten members are given time for another one hour. When we have by-election what we normally do is, we allocate particular date and a particular time for each new member and then we introduce to him the services that we provide.
Secondly, regarding the research analysts and the drafting of the Bills, actually we do not involve them in the drafting of the Bills. It is only when the Bill is tabled in the Parliament and if a particular member wants to know more about the Bill, then we give them the legislation brief or what is called Legislation Digest. If a particular member is still not clear with a particular Bill, then they have a session together. But normally after the Bill is tabled, they have their briefing session. That is where our analysts go and brief them, but not in the actual drafting of the Bill. There is another Department which deals with that in Fiji.
MR. SUNIL DUTT NAUTIYAL, RAJYA SABHA (INDIA) : Is it also relating to the Government Bills? If the member is not clear about the provisions of the Government Bill, then will the research staff help the members to understand the provisions of the Government Bill?
MADAM CHAIRPERSON : On Government Bills, yes, they do. I do not know about Fiji. I think it is based on the model of the Australian Parliament. It is certainly that on every Bill that is tabled in Parliament – whether it is a Government Bill or a Private member’s Bill – we prepare a Bills Digest and brief all our members – whether Government, Opposition or Independent – on that Bill.
Are there any more questions? I think everybody wants a cup of tea. We will adjourn now for tea and re-assemble at 4.10 p.m. Thank you.
(Ms. Roslynn Membrey, Secretary and Treasurer, APLAP in the Chair)
MADAM CHAIRPERSON: Shall we start the rest of this afternoon presentations? Okay. Thank you very much. You have had a nice cup of tea. We have now four presentations of Country Reports coming this afternoon. There will be power point presentation. So, I am just going to take the session from here and then move to introduce each of the speakers. Our first speaker today is from Japan, Mr. Keiji Tsuchiya. He will be talking about the Country Report of Japan. Mr. Keiji Tsuchiya.
MR. KEIJI TSUCHIYA (JAPAN): I deem it an honour to speak at the APLAP Conference in New Delhi. We, the Research Bureau of the National Diet Library are already providing facilities and services, preparing some reports on the focal matters of the session of Diet. It will be beginning on 21st January this year. The focal matters include measures immediately taken for the rescue, rehabilitation from the disasters such as great earthquake Tsunami and typhoon. We have to provide research services and contribute to help the activities of the Diet.
The Research and Legislative Reference Bureau of the National Diet Library has the function of providing legislative support services for the National Diet, the Parliament of Japan. The mission of the Research Bureau remains unchanged, but its practices have inevitably been transformed according to meet the new needs for legislative research services to reflect political, economical or social changes. The most noticeable changes in these early years of the new millennium are the reforms of the Diet. Evolutional movements in the Diet have been emerging in tangible form since the 1990s, as follows:
The advancement in the legislative and policy-making abilities of the Members of the Diet has been shown by the increasing number of bills proposed on the Members' own initiatives since 1993. A Preliminary Research System was introduced in the House of Representatives in 1998, in accordance with the amendment of the National Diet Law. At the same time, the functions of monitoring and auditing the Executive Branch were enhanced in both Houses, when the appropriate committees were established.
In 1999, the Act for Promotion of Debate in the Diet was enacted which abolished the position of Executive Officer in charge of explaining in the Diet and introduced the face to face discussion between the Prime Minister and the Heads of Parties in the Diet, thereby enhancing the deliberation system.
In January 2000, Research Commissions on the Constitution were established in both houses to research and review the Constitution of Japan. The Commissions have energetically endevoured to investigate both the domestic and the foreign constitutional problems, using the personnel of the Diet Secretariats as well as the senior staff of our research Bureau. These transformations in the diet have brought out the changes of needs in legislative support.
The Research Bureau has endeavoured to provide services and mechanisms to meet the needs emerging from the reforms in the Diet. To cope with the needs mentioned above, the Bureau has endeavoured to plan and implement some programmes in these years.
The Research Bureau reorganised its structure to make its services to the Diet more efficient and started providing services based on its new organisation from April, 2001. The new Research Bureau has been framed in accordance with main targets in enhancing its function for planning and coordinating services, providing materials and information for the research services, establishing an environment well suited to electronic information, enhancing its research units, steadily carrying out interdisciplinary research, and enhancing its research on foreign legislation.
In March, 2001, the Research Bureau announced "The Basic Plan for Services to the Diet" providing for a period of about five years after the start of the new Bureau. This Plan outlines and describes the main policies and the specific menu of the services for the Diet, presenting targets for enhancing its research through an analytical approach, carrying out interdisciplinary research from a multi-perspectives viewpoint, enhancing the research on foreign legislative affairs, improving its functions for delivering legislative information and making the related services more efficient, and establishing a service system that takes its feasibility into consideration.
In April, 2002, the National Diet Library reorganised its structure. It now consists of the Head Office in Tokyo which includes the Administrative Department, the Research Bureau, the Acquisitions Department, the Bibliography Department, the Public Services Department, the Reference and Special Collections Department, and the Detached Library in the Diet[R44] .
Kansai-kan is the Department of the NDL and its premises is located in the region neighbouring both Osaka and Kyoto. Then there is the International Library of Children Literature and the Toyo Bunko Oriental Library.
The National Diet Library has been working to provide services to satisfy the changing needs in the information and social environment. Two years after it was first started in June 2004, the National Diet Library released the NDL Vision 2004 that specifies the Mission and the Roles to be implemented and to chart the course to be taken in future. In this Vision, improvement of research services to support the legislative activities of the Diet is given the highest priority.
Based on the assessment of the legislative support service to the Diet during the three years after the commencement of the Basic Plan, the Research Bureau worked out the short-term programme to prescribe the tasks and how to proceed with them. This programme emphasised the following: A highly elaborated research and precise information services meeting the legislative needs should be provided promptly. Products and compilations completed in the process of services should be published in a timely and appropriate manner through either the print or electronic media; legislative information in electronic form which is generated in the process of the activities of the Diet, for instance proceedings and other information related to Acts, should be provided in such a manner that electronic devices are used to the full guarantee of promptness and convenience. In line with the National Diet Library Vision 2004, and Middle-range Strategy Electronic Library, it is essential to expand and improve the Electronic Library Services to the Diet, establishing the infrastructure for those services without delay. These above-mentioned programmes have been developed in accordance with the changes in needs and the changes in the services provided in response to the changing needs. The main affairs referred to in programmes were for enhancing services to the Diet are enhancement of the substance of legislative research and reference services to the Diet and the enhancement of the infrastructure for services to the Diet. We have assessed what has been done already and it is the identification of the needs of the Diet. We have made efforts to collect, share and analyze information on Bills to be submitted to the Diet in the current session, through materials released by the Cabinet, the Secretariats of each House of the Diet and others and to acquire information by means of questionnaires to Members of the Diet. However, there is still room for improvement in acquiring and analyzing information by every means available including electronic media so as to exactly identify those needs. We have made substantial progress in completing written reports; summarizing or making abstracts of materials or information in foreign languages. We do not deliver materials in the original text without comment by the researcher in charge to the Members, who do not always understand the foreign language, unless they request the originals; uniting and coordinating the work of each research section or unit in the Research Bureau, coping with inter-disciplinary matters. We need further to endeavour to report, explain, lecture, comment or advise actively on the matters concerned at the committees or conference of the Members of the Diet; enhance inter-disciplinary research or research from multiple perspectives; make closer selection or evaluation of the materials or information provided to assure the accuracy and usefulness; and have the Members aware of the availability of the web site (“Chosa no Mado”) of the Research Bureau. We have made substantial progress in ensuring the effective use of the Basic Research Work Plan which all staff members of the Research Bureau plan annually on their own initiative. The Outline of Political Issues at the Diet provides brief explanations on the critical issues to be debated in the current session of the Diet, is to be published at the beginning of the session, in the form of the Feature Version of “Research and Information – Issue Brief”. Inter-disciplinary research has steadily been developed and the results have been published at least once a year. The next step to be taken is a strict assessment of the performance of each researcher, and to provide the research of high quality through an analytical approach. A research service system concerning the Constitution of Japan was established by the Office of the Constitution in the Research Bureau, corresponding to establishment of the Research Commission on the Constitution in each House of the Diet. The office has made efforts not only to answer requests relevant to the Constitution in general but also to help the Commissions’ research activities and published reports on the constitutions of some foreign countries.
The research findings are to be provided to the Diet through various media such as “Reference”. This is published monthly. “Research and Information – Issue Brief”, “Foreign Legislation”. These are quarterly and bi-weekly versions exclusively on the Diet WAN. “Total Points of National Political Issues” is provided exclusively on the Diet WAN. They have been provided to the public through the web side of NDL since 2004 except those provided exclusively on the Diet WAN[p46] .
The planning that is programmed through those assessments are these: enhancement of identification of legislative research needs – we should accurately identify the needs through closer analysis of the trends of requests for legislative research by making full use of the function, in order to prepare in advance materials corresponding to those needs through research on our own initiatives so that we can respond to requests more promptly and accurately when they are raised.
Enhancement of research through analytical approach – we should promote staff on the basis of their competence in order to enhance research through analytical approach.
Enhancement of anticipatory research – we have to carry out systematically and steadily the research according to the Basic Research Work Plan based on the identified needs that are mentioned above.
Promotion of the interdisciplinary research – we have to promote research through multi-perspective approach with collaboration among several research units of the Research Bureau.
Promotion of research of constitutions at home and abroad – we need to raise efficiency of the Office of the Constitution and the cooperation between the Office and the other research units in the Research Bureau so that we can thoroughly support the activities of the Research Commissions on the Constitution in their final stages.
Enhancement of the services providing information related to foreign legislation – we have to promote collaboration between the Overseas Legislative Information Section and the other research sections or units of the Research Bureau as well as among staff of the Overseas Legislative Information Section each of whom is in charge of a different country.
Enhancement of the function to provide information to support the legislative activities of the Members of the Diet – we have to make rapid progress in applying IT to the function of providing information to support the legislative activities of the Members of the Diet in such a way so as to make the contents of the website of the Research Bureau more substantial. We have to improve the function of either ‘Electronic Library’ of NDL or ‘Navigation’ for the information distributed outside of NDL. We have to inform and encourage the Members of the Diet to make good use of the information provided on the website of the Research Bureau.
We have to enhance infrastructure for services to the Diet in five areas and they are: personnel, research materials, information dissemination, Parliamentary documents and official publications and facilities and equipments.
On personnel policy and training programmes, we have found recently that a number of veteran staff has decreased in the Research Bureau and the younger staff has not yet gained sufficient expertise. The Research Bureau has a few staff who have competence in advanced analytical research. We have personnel policy and countermeasures relating to those programmes. According to the guidelines for development of competence of staff in the National Diet Library, we carry out personnel placement to heighten their aptitude and specialisation. In fiscal year 2003, we adopted the mid-career recruitment system so that we can acquire more specialised staff. We will continue to inter-change our staff with Secretariats of both Houses and other appropriate Government agencies. Since fiscal year 2004, we have despatched younger staff to study abroad or study in a Japanese University.
For the tasks of interdisciplinary research, constitutional research, Overseas Legislative Information Research, and compilation of the index to the Japanese laws and regulations, we will hire guest researchers and part-time researchers successively. In case of need for advanced professional expertise or knowledge of special languages, we will utilise the ability of guest researchers or part-time researchers.
In order to enrich our research services, we will endeavour to utilise external human resources, for example, outsourcing a part of the research transactions, writing and other work related to IT.
We will improve ‘research work training’ programmes to put emphasise on practical contents to meet the requests of the Diet Members. We will continue to carry out seminar style training for the study of foreign Statutes. We have introduced training programmes from external institutes such as Orientations of Commercial Databases, training by the National Personnel Authority or IDE-JETRO, Institute of Developing Economies. We will continue to expand these activities. We will increase chances for researchers to learn foreign languages which have become important recently and remain a rarity in the Research Bureau.
Since fiscal year 2003, the budget for purchasing research materials has increased by 36 per cent. In addition, payment for research materials, payment for introducing commercial databases and for membership of Japan Centre for Economic Research, have been authorised.
The purposes of the Action Plan for Acquisition of Research Materials are to improve the work of selection and purchase of research materials, endeavour to grasp and collect materials and information of the executive and judicial agencies of Japan which cannot be acquired through the normal route, improve the acquisition of foreign books and magazines to meet the needs of the Diet and in the acquisition of electronic publications, in principle put more emphasis on network resources rather than packaged resources such as CD-ROMs[R48] .
We have some sessions for Information dissemination from the Research Bureau
· Total System of Research and information Services
· Index to Japanese Laws and Regulations Database
· "Chosa-no-Mado" (Gateway to Research) on the web site
· Full-text Database System for the Minutes of the Diet
· Full-text Database System for the Minutes of the Imperial Diet
Roles of System for Research and Information Services are:
· To assist the Research Bureau's day-to- day support operations to the Diet
· To provide Members of the Diet with access to the Research Bureau's products in as timely and convenient a manner as possible
Research and Information Services has two sub-systems”
· Tracking Request System
Recording of :
Diet Members' inquiries and how they are assigned to the staff
Their answers, statistics and approval
· Information Sharing System'
To store a digitized version of the Research Bureau publications and research reports
To provide it for the Diet via an Internet web site (Chosa-no-mado)
Improvement of Total System for Research and Information Services
Improvement of "Total System of Research and Information Services" by getting additional functions;
Exclusive page for Diet Members
Selective Dissemination of information service
Further efforts to be made to improve services through;
· Collecting parliamentary documents of several regions, which are difficult for us to acquire, for example, Asia, Latin-America and Northern Europe
· Collecting web resources of foreign organizations, especially those published only in electronic media
· Enriching the contents of "Parliamentary Documents and Official Publication Room" on the NDL web site
Now, I will have to conclude the report. To provide accurate and ample legislate services, we should obtain all
· Information resources, and
· Human resources;
And make them available
Among them, the most important factor is the competence of the staff. Thank you.
MADAM CHAIRPERSON: I think with your cooperation we are not going to have the question-answer session at the end of each Country Report this afternoon. We will just move through the Country Reports to save us a little bit of time. Our next Report is coming from Mrs. Aseemunnnisa Khan from Malaysia. We may just have to wait for a few minutes to load her CD on the PC and prepare her power point presentation. I would just make a few comments because I am the Chairman and I can talk as long as I like. I was really interested in Keiji’s Paper because there are so many similarities between what the National Diet Library is doing and what the Australian Parliament Library is doing. In recent years we have reorganised our staff to better meet the needs of our clients. We have focussed completely on what our clients want. We really had to go back to basics and say they do not just want a standard library. They do not just want to come into the library and get a book issued. They do need targeted, focussed information services that will suit their life style and their working style. So, the Australian Parliament Library, just like the National Diet Library, has been doing a lot of work, research, analysis into all of these things and basically we have come to exactly the same conclusions. The key role of us is in having the best available staff to provide the services. We can provide as many resources as we like but if we do not have that interpretation between resources and the client themselves, then we are not going to get our services appreciated and the Members are going to stop using us.
One further point I wanted to make has gone completely out of mind. Yes, I remember. The slide that New Zealand put up earlier with the number of information requests going down for the period 1999-2003 and then started to climb up again. We had exactly the same experience in the Australian Parliament Library. We think, as a result of the analysis that we have done, our request is going up again. It is probably because we have changed the focus of our services and tried to make them more directed.
I shall stop talking and boring you.
MRS. AZEEMUNNISA KHAN (MALAYSIA): I will start with the Reference and Research Services for Members of Parliament in Malaysia. The basic function of the Parliament Library of Malaysia is to provide its primary clientele, the Members of Parliament of both Houses; the Lower House and the Upper House, with efficient, speedy, timely and relevant information services to assist them in their performance of legislative and constituency functions. It is the vision of the library to be:
1. The Centre of Excellence for legislation data and information on governance, Parliament, Constitution, elections and politics.
2. The Conservator of the Parliamentary documents of Malaysia such as Minutes of Proceedings or the Hansards, Command Papers, Statute Papers, Bills, Votes and Proceedings
Role of the Parliament Library in Malaysia
In pursuit of this vision, the library assumes the supportive role as a provider for provision of timely efficient reference and research services, acquisition of wide subject coverage of collection, and to develop sophisticated techniques for organising and dissemination of information and lastly, the requirement of all the MPs is assessed. It is also to undertake anticipatory reference and research on debated issues.
The challenges in providing this information research services is to give right information, reliable and relevant to their needs and disseminated at the right time at the request of the MPs.
The Hansard collection has been dated as far back as 1920s which gives a record of the Minutes of Proceedings of the House of Representatives and the House of Senate.
Requests are made for information from statutes for regulatory administrative information, statistics and activities of government departments, agencies, public and private organisations.
Requests are made to all Malaysian laws such as the Straits Settlement laws, Federated Malay States laws, subsidiary legislation, Acts and government gazettes.
The library works closely with the Members of Parliament to get their preferred choices in subject areas and their suggestions to specific titles. Listing of new books is published at every parliamentary sitting where Members of Parliament can refer to the titles and abstract of the new acquired collection[R49] .
All newspaper articles in Malaysia are published either in English language or in Chinese or in Malay language and are kept for a period of two years. Journals on specific titles relating to political, social, parliamentary issues are acquired. There are also popular journals like The Times and the The News Week. It is easy for one agency to acquire articles from journals by subscribing to online databases. There is not one agency in Malaysia which undertakes the collection of all articles from the local journals and put it in one. Maybe, one agency is doing it for certain journals but there is not one agency like ABSCO where they put together hundred titles. Then it becomes easy to access. Such a thing is yet to be implemented in Malaysia. This is a problem we are facing now. We have to go through the journals manually for the specific topics.
The effectiveness of the reference services in the Parliament library of Malaysia is to achieve outcome in meeting the MPs’ requirements. The development of these reference services are evaluated for the library to re-think new types of services that it might offer to MPs in this information era. The requirements of Members of Parliament are assessed well in advance and Members of Parliament are provided with consultation services with regard to their information needs. From these consultation services the librarian gets a clearer and deeper knowledge of the clientele information needs and the urgency of the information. The effectiveness of the reference service is to provide reliable information relevant to their needs and disseminate them at the right time at the request of the MPs and also to undertake all their requests to keep them updated and informed in all fields and topics.
The Parliament library envisages on a fast, efficient retrieval of information by subscribing to online databases, newspaper articles database and law and finance database. Select articles from newspapers covering parliamentary activities, current issues which are being debated and are relevant to the Members of Parliament are searched from the original papers and also from online databases.
Many requests are received from Members for research information on government projects, speeches, reports, working papers, Acts, policies and statistical data. Contacts are made with various Ministries and Government Departments, agencies and libraries and also information at their websites. Is analysed. Information requested is usually received by FAX or e-mail. We have this problem. The library has to develop a more effective mechanism for tracking information in these government departments as not all information is published in their websites. A lot of Government departments do not have online databases. Clearly, there is a need to develop more effective communication strategy with government officials, research departments in Government and in libraries, public relation departments and publication departments in these Ministries and organisations so that there could be better contact. We are facing this problem. I do not know as to what is prevailing in other countries. We have 13 States in Malaysia. A lot of Government annual reports and statistical data is not scanned and is not put on the website. So, the library has to start scanning these reports and putting them in the parliament library website with their permission. This is a lot of work for us.
The legislative research is one of the research services that is highly requested by the Members of Parliament or their research assistants. Requests are made for Acts, amending Acts, Government gazettes, regulations and State enactment for particular dates, cases and subjects. In order to be able to provide a quick and accurate service to Members of Parliament, we make use of our own reference sources, index to legislation, online databases, and in given cases we co-operate with the Attorney General’s library and the court library. These are some of the benefits of the research services.
Staff who are familiar with national aspects have direct interaction with Government Departments and institutions. Professional contacts are established with officials in specific fields. Experienced research people are there to analyse relevant research reports. It provides a new dimension to the research service.
The Parliament library is now going through a structural change. It would now be provided with ten researchers and also 12 extra staff and we hope to provide a trained workforce who are experts in research work. We expect to take researchers specialised in certain fields, like for example a person from the science field, maybe who is an ex-professor in the field of education and things like that. They would analyse the research requirement of the Members and would be able to provide a statistical summary, make study reports and bring out extracts on specific issues.
We have also increased our capability in providing knowledge service to the Members of Parliament. What they are now being provided with is just information data. But they need more than that. What they demand from us is not just data but they need analysed information so that they could make better speeches in the Parliament. They would be able to come out with summary of the reports on certain issues. For adding value to information, we also need to develop a system for organising information on various subjects. We would like to compare information on various subjects. For example, I want to compare certain provisions of our Constitution with the Constitutions of countries like Australia, New Zealand and India. But it is difficult for us to do it because I do not think APLAP at present has put the Constitutions of the various countries in its website. Members of Parliament had wanted me to compare certain provisions of the Constitution with other countries, but it was very difficult for me to carry out that job. Most of the Constitutions are still in the text form and they have not been put online yet. This is the problem.
Right now there is a debate in our country about improving water services in our country. I wanted to find out about the systems in other countries on this subject but most of the information on this subject has still not been put online. This is a problem. APLAP can do something about it, specially on certain topics like Tsunami and things like that. This is of a recent occurrence and there would be a debate on this issue in the Parliament. So, if we can have co-operation from APLAP, then I think, we would get information faster. If I wish to set a benchmark or a standard on certain matters and want to compare it with other countries and give it to the MPs, then such information is not readily available online. This is a big hurdle.
Another problem I face is having access to Government reports. Most of the official reports are not on the website. Statistical data and information relating to certain other aspects are not on the website[snb51] .
Then comes [bru52] the consequences of Research Services. Information overload is one of the major problems that we are facing. This is adding to stress level resulting in downturn in productivity, increased number of decisions and responsible for a loss of time.
We also need to discriminate the information and get the most relevant and meaningful information so that they can add to useful knowledge. But it takes a lot of time and it needs a lot of professionalism. That is what we need right now. Researchers have to deal with redundancy of information and have to find ways to capture information that is relevant to the MPs. The Members can go to the websites and they can get the information. But that is not what they want. What they want is the value of information. So, we have to find ways to capture the relevant information for them and deliver it to them. They need more quality and focus. There is a lot of information in the websites, but there is no value of such information. So, we need to focus on more quality information and make urgent contacts with government officials, agencies and organisations. We have to really do an analyzing job in the website to make sure that we get them the information they need. I have been going through the websites. I realize that some more relevant information may be available. So, I do not really know where to put a full stop. Maybe, it is the satisfaction level which counts. We are in belief that more relevant information lies outside somewhere and we do not have to make a duplicate effort. We should know where to put a full stop in finding information.
The MPs are also bombarded with all categories of urgency, media, size, timeliness, complexity and they have to make decisions.
There is an increase in low cost information now readily available in the web and has massively outpaced the increase in quality information.
There is a need to strengthen the capacity of parliamentarians to analyse, scrutinize relevant reports and understand general issues, the knowledge of which is crucial for efficient debates. We are having problems back home because of the reports not reaching Parliament as yet. For example, the Ministry of Education has brought out a report and it is not to our knowledge. So, how do we trace that specific report? Maybe, the Opposition comes to know of it and they pass it on to us.
A fully satisfactory research and reference service has to address the demands of the MPs and to further explore information resources and provide guidance for decision making on specific issues. Members of Parliament expect a knowledge service oriented to content and solutions to their needs.
These are some of the job duties of the researcher.
(a) Evaluation and review of Bills and Resolutions
(b) Research on existing local and foreign legislations
(c) Serving as the data bank, gathering and compiling and collecting data and information on subject matter
(d) Preparing research reports on the subject of the proposed Bills
(e) Research in the provisions of the Constitution and existing laws
(f) Research on the policies of the government regarding all subject matters
(g) Maintaining contacts with academic, government agencies, non-government institutions for materials on one subject matter
(h) Maintaining and updating a data bank for each subject
(i) Maintaining and developing adequate legislative research databank on each subject matter. This is what I was saying. For example, on water development, I hope that we can get information from the APLAP countries. They may start on that subject matter and put it into the data bank.
(j) Maintaining the online reference inquiry form
(k) Building portals of information in various disciplines.
There is a need for in-house training and refresher programmes to reorganise the structure. The library can better leverage their investments by retraining the staff in training programmes that will reinforce a culture of continuous improvement, quality service delivery and accountability among staff.
Training programmes have to be built so that the librarian’s role as a network navigator and individual information consultant, how to locate, select and evaluate information can be improved.
We need to conduct workshops and courses on development skills, improving handling of reference and research information and capturing and transmitting of knowledge.
We need to encourage exchange of views and learn from other specialists who share the common organizational experiences. A programme on case study approach to problem-solving in handling research services needs to be carried out. There is a need for workshops on basic networking skills and how to design websites that serve as portals to interesting sites.
MS. ROSLYNN MEMBREY (AUSTRALIA) : Thank you Ms. Khan. I think you are facing very many challenges. After listening to you, I think one of the things which seem to be doing is that you are doing a lot of searching of other people’s websites. It may be done by quickly sending e-mails and getting a quick response. I say this because sometimes if I get e-mails from people, and I am not an expert in my library, I send them to somebody else. I was talking to Mr. Ahmet from Turkey yesterday. He was saying that he wanted to send me an e-mail and it had bounced back. Perhaps, he had got a wrong address. Then I said, “Here is my correct address and you can send an e-mail.” He said that this was going to be a test for me and he would see how fast I would come back to him. So, I have to worry about that when I get back to work.
Now, before I request Mr. Ahmet of Turkey to make his presentation, and by the time he loads his CD-ROM in the computer, I have to talk on one point.
I have just noticed while talking about Country Reports that there is a constant need for development of research. I think this is not an accident. On seeing and talking with MPs, we feel that they need us to provide them with knowledge rather than information. This is because MPs are now adopting the use of Google and online services and they are getting quicker answers to a lot of questions. What they are expecting from the librarians is to provide them with in-depth analysis and research. That is why, statistics are going up again. In the late 1990s and early 2000, I think they were saying that Internet is great and they do not need librarians. But they say that when they started using Internet, they discovered that they do not get the answers for their questions. And therefore, they have to turn back to the libraries. So, that theme is going to be true. We are now becoming much more powerful.
MR. AHMET YILDIZ (TURKEY): In the first place, I want to express my sympathy towards the people affected by tsunami disaster.
Secondly, this topic of interest that I will try to present to you is inspired by our Speaker’s official visit that they paid to Indian Parliament three years ago. He was very impressed by the Library Complex and he decided to build a new library complex which will include library, research and archives[bru53] .
That was a good starting point for us in terms of deciding which kind of research we want in the library complex. Our main question in this presentation will be about the relation between research and so-called library. Our point of departure or the main question is: Is it necessary for library and research to be together? Or is it a better option to divorce research from the library, of course sharing the same environment? This is a kind of good divorce where mother and father will continue to meet the proper needs of the children, that is the MPs. There is a need to separate the two.
Then, we prepared a project in cooperation with the British Council. We made a study visit to London and we saw there the Anglo-Saxon tradition. That library is in fact a complex that is used for convenience. Library just exists in name. It includes eight Directors, different from each other in organisational and administrative terms. From then on, we proposed to establish a new research service that is separate from the library, but will share the same environment. The fact remains that the least used source of information is the classical conventional books. So, in this digitized environment of information, physical co-existence of library and research does not exist. We decided to go in for a subject-based and topic-based research service because we did not want to duplicate our legislative Committees' expertise. So, we decided to be individual-based, which are open to requests of every MP. We preferred subject-based approach. Our priority is to provide information to the MPs.
As you all know, especially in our context, an efficient and strong research service is crucially important in securing the autonomous character of the legislature from the executive. Since our parliamentary system is much more executive dominated, it is crucial especially for the Opposition to have good, reliable, efficient and timely Government information. Bureaucracy is controlled by the Government. It is not easy for the Opposition Members to get the right information from the bureaucracy. So, the research service has a crucial democratising function. Thus, the motto was that if the information is taken from the research service, then it must be true, balanced, objective and non-partisan. That is our ultimate goal. When it came to deciding our organisational patterns, we came to know that there are four patterns of organisations in terms of relation between research service and library. In the Integrated Model that we see in the countries which follow Anglo-Saxon tradition, like Canada, New Zealand, Australia and UK, research service is a part of library. In the Separate Model, research service is separated from the library. In the Dispersed Model, which we see in Germany, there is no central research service. In the Articulated Model, which I think is more relevant in this period, research service is a part of broader organisation that may bring together parliament library, research and other departments. What we concluded is that Articulated Model which will bring research and library together but keep them separate at least in organisational terms and, of course to a certain extent in functional terms too, is best suited to us. Here are the examples. In the Integrated Model, the problem is there in the division of labour and specialisation between library and research service. In the Separate Model, the problem is lack of coordination among the units. In the Dispersed Model, the problem is with regard to providing information. In the Articulated Model, there is coordination problem. If we can take care of the coordination problem, the Articulated Model seems to be the better model for us. What we proposed and what was accepted was the Articulated Model. Our research service was created in 1982 as part of library, which does not have any legal existence until now. Presently we have 13 members in the staff. We have very general topics of interests.
These are subject divisions in various parliaments, like the USA, Australia, UK, Sweden, Japan and Canada. Generally, we have seen three kinds in the parliament research service -- big ones, medium ones and small ones. We preferred to establish medium sized ones. These are the sections in the research centre project. They are Law Section, Economics and Finance Section, Public Administration and Political Science Section, International Relations and Defence Section, Social Policy, Science and Natural Resources, which may increase according to the needs. The aimed products and services of the research centre is the information notes, background notes, research reports. These are various indicators that will be compiled by the researchers[r55] .
The oral briefings are there. All these will be both pro-active and re-active. Of course, you know the majority of requirements are met by the research services. It is done on a pro-active basis. But pro-active work is as important as re-active one.
Here, we see some services that will be fulfilled by the research services. What we talk about in the context of APLAP is the need or demand towards a comparative information in terms of our particular needs. These are, in fact, met by the ECPRD. The APLAP may have the same function.
This slide is about criteria for researchers. It is in terms of working environment. Of course, the technical equipment is now standardised. The reference service is in conventional and digital mode. So, to decide, to establish a new research service after the articulated model was a challenge for us. We decided to build it. Hopefully, we will achieve it together with our new library complex that is inspired by the Indian example.
MADAM CHAIRPERSON: I was getting comfortable with the idea that the librarians and the research people are starting to work together and becoming integrated. I do not think it is going to be a difficult task like the separation of powers. The research staff will still need the librarians to provide basic information and the librarians will still need to talk to the research staff and make sure that they are up-to-date. It will be of interest to see what happens with the Turkish changes and the reorganisation taking place today. But, more and more, I think, there is the news that they are going to get a whole new complex built. I think this is another excuse for us to go back to Turkey for another meeting of the APLAP as soon as that building is ready.
The next speaker is from Vietnam, Mr. Dao Van Thach. He too has a power point presentation. So, he just needs a few minutes to get back to the seat. The system is now ready. I leave it to him to start his presentation.
MR. DAO VAN THACH (VIETNAM): Good evening. May I start my presentation now?
My presentation is about the innovating activities and supply of information for the National Assembly of Vietnam (current situation and solutions).
First is the background. The second is about the role and value of information. The third is about building information resources and the fourth is about the current situation and the solution as also the conclusion.
Now, I deal with the background. The National Assembly of Vietnam is renovating every aspect of activities. In the process of renovating every aspect of the activities in the current National Assembly of Vietnam, it demands that a sufficient source of information should be supplied to the National Assembly on time and with high reliabilities.
The Library and Information Institution of the National Assembly has to face the task of studying, selecting, arranging and processing information in order to assist the National Assembly to catch up with the information resources for timely and proper processing, mastering a necessary quantity of information for its decision-making process.
The Library has to innovate the process of information activities. One of the most important tasks at the present time is to innovate the process of information activities and to promote effectively the application of new achievement from information technology into the process of collecting, processing and supplying information as a service for the activities of the National Assembly.
Now, I come to the role and value of information.
Nowadays, information has become an important ingredient for production that serves further development and state administration. Value brought about by information product depends on its users. Information is of highest value at its brand new appearance and its value will eventually decrease dependence on the outdatedness of the information.
Next is about development resources. The quality of information product and services has become the criterion for evaluating the development level of each and every country. Science is fed on by science itself . It is science of information. It is seen as a basis for leadership and management. The quality of decision is also dependent on the sufficiency as well as the quality of information. The nature of the management process is about acquiring and processing information for the readers. Therefore, information is regarded as an element and a resource of greatest importance for development, without which it is almost impossible to obtain any good management of the society’s organisational structure.
The quality of information is important for us. It is in three key elements: contents, time and form.
Content, as the most important element which creates the quality of information, includes three features. One is precision. Information must be precise, not allowed to be deviated from the processed source of information[R57] .
Conformity: Information must be inclusive of the entire element, which the information users desired to know to settle on their jobs.
The present day information office in their process of providing service is likely to commit mistakes providing inappropriate information and supplying too much necessary information.
b/Time is the second element including such features as
- Timeliness information must be provided to users on time when they badly need it.
- Information must be updated all the time.
- Urgency: Information must be urgent and updated on time.
Contents and time as features of information plays the most decisive role for evaluating information quality. Managers without opportunities to obtain necessary information and obtain it on time will find it impossible to make proper decisions in their job.
c/The form of information must be detailed and attractive.
The detailedness of information as a feature demands that information brought into use must be specific to an appropriate level.
The information format also contribute to its attractiveness, creating further value for the information.
III BUILDING INFORMATION RESOURCES
Information becomes an issue of the time due to the important inherent in its utility. However, information itself cannot bring out utility. Information utility is built on the result of the scientific research process to turn information into a product qualified to meet the demand for information use. Thus, organising and building up a proper and effective information resource is of vital importance.
1. Identification of information users and need.
We should know information users. It means that subject of the information is direct to, should be clearly aware.
- The decision makers need comprehensive and diverse information of the country.
- The scientists and technical staff need more information at the international level.
- People who are responsible for disseminating achievements in economic and social development.
- Lastly, information should be universal for everyone.
2. REQUIREMENT FOR INFORMATION ORGANISING
Increasing needs of exploiting information result to the requirement of organising information into a system on the basis of building databases.
- Requirement: Providing the sufficient information for the overall activities of the National Assembly in the quickest and most efficient manner.
- Providing question and answer information in all knowledge fields and requirements of National Assembly.
With the application of information technology achievement as the most important and key points in the process of automating information-documentation activities, the Library has provided enough information for the needs of National Assembly members most efficiently, quickly, properly and timely.
From 1998 to date, the National Assembly Library has been automating all process of information referring and searching on the basis of building several databases:
BUILDING DATA BASE
Database on National Assembly Member List
Law Database etc.
3. ORGANISING INFORMATION SERVICES
- Providing reference of national and international in the internet network of the NA Office.
- Providing information of documents on legal requirement (Vietnam Law Documents)
- Providing quick answer service to users who cannot search direct at the Library.
- Providing question and answer information.
- Coordinating with other Library to operate shared information potentiality.
- Multimedia etc.
RESULTS OF THE COORDINATING
Results of coordinating between institutions to provide information service for the 5th Session (May 2004) of the XI Legislature of the National Assembly are as follows:
- A number of questions 1747/757 request note.
- Time and right answer: 783.
- Addresses at the meeting: 373
- Documentation information: 357
- Research Information: 73
- Reference specialised information: 583
- Serving 98 requirements on researching explaining legislation and documents related to law projects.
CURRENT SITUATION AND SOLUTION
-The content of the information has nothing to do with their work.
-Information is arriving untimely. It is too early or too late.
-There is improper information.
-Information orientation status is lacking.
-They do no satisfy the users.
-Information resources are still not enough.
-Co-operation has not been developed.
-Basic information infrastructure is incomplete.
Now, I will come to the solutions.
-Having orientation in building information resources, ensuring sufficiency for serving information needs.
-Upgrading quality and forms of information services, meeting correspondingly the National Assembly activity programmes.
-Building electronic libraries with aims of providing online access to information. Our Electronic Library has just been opened very recently on 16th November, 2004.
-Applying information technology to provide remote information access and question-answer service.
-Reinforcing network connection capability with information sources outside the National Assembly.
This was said at the time of our Digital Library opening ceremony. The Deputy-Speaker of the National Assembly was speaking.
Now, I come to the conclusion.
1. The National Assembly Library in the 21st century:
We can imagine a National Assembly Library in the 21st century with a powerful computer system with connection to Internet, full text of specialised journals on CD-ROM, periodical indexes and abstracts on CD-ROM and online; a detailed and complete list introducing all the web pages in Internet in addition to books, newspapers, law documents, thesis, dissertations, scientific proceedings of national and international conferences, etc. All are classified using international standard, subject-wise organised in stacks so that the users can browse directly through the shelves or access through computer online.
2. Do not exclude the traditional forms of storage.
While we are making full use of the potentials brought about by information technologies, it is necessary not to exclude the traditional forms of storage. It is because no copies could completely replace the genuine original work. To fully appreciate the document, people should not only read the text, but also take it in hand. The researchers and text linguists are interested in the forms of correspondence exchanges, reading perfume—flavoured letters and blood written letters, including letters which have been turned yellow colour due to tears.
3. It may lead to massive wastage of resources.
Nevertheless, inadequate application of information technology may result in unexpected consequences. Massive and non-selective investment in development of information technology may lead to massive waste of resources. While the internal capacity is insufficient, rapid development of information technology will lead to dependence on the suppliers and inability to protect information safety and security.
4. It should narrow down the great gaps between developed and developing countries.
The solutions mentioned above are expected to be taken into account by the Conference along with other constructive proposals for the future.
Thank you very much. (ends)
MADAM CHAIRPERSON: Thank you Mr. Dao Van Thach. That was the last presentation for this afternoon. I think you will agree that Mr. Dao’s presentation has again just shown us the value of constantly reassessing and reorganising our services and making sure that we provide the relevant services to our clients who are not only Members but also the administrative staff of Parliament. I think Mr. Dao’s Paper in particular was interesting because he showed us the statistics of the results of what has happened since the start of their organisation and the impact that has had on the work that they have been doing. So, I think all of this afternoon’s Papers have been fascinating. Certainly, they have highlighted many of the differences and challenges between the small libraries, large libraries, libraries in undeveloped nations and libraries in developed nations. To my mind, they will reinforce the fact that APLAP is an organisation that needs to continue with its work so that we can all help each other as time goes on.
Now, Dr. Ravinder Kumar Chadha would like to make some comments.
DR. RAVINDER KUMAR CHADHA. LOK SABHA (INDIA): In fact, Ms. Azeemunnisa Khan had put a number of questions while she was giving her presentation. They are very important questions as far as APLAP is concerned. Probably, the issues that she raised are concerned with all of us directly or indirectly[m61] .
She[e62] basically raised two issues - one relates to collection parliamentary information from other countries and the other relates to collecting official information from one’s own country and also from other countries.
Coming to parliamentary information, most of the parliaments have now started putting up their own websites and a lot of data is available on the Net. If you go to our website, you can find the Constitution of India, the APLAP debates, our Hansards and all the other things. At the same time, the sites of IPU and CPA give a lot of data and a lot of information.
We started a small project of collecting constitutions of different countries and also their rules and procedures. We started by writing to different parliaments and it was a quite encouraging response where we got electronic information from most of the countries. We finally developed our own CD of constitutions of different countries. That is a kind of exercise we did.
I remember, we were earlier collecting information on salaries and allowances of Members of Parliament of different countries. We started sending e-mails to almost every Parliament. We knew a lot of the officials in those parliaments because of IFLA and APLAP and the response was not bad at all. So, e-mail is one of the sources by which we can collect information and I would say we are all here to help each other.
The US Library of Congress has started a project known as G-line. They are trying to develop law database of all the countries. They are trying to contact parliaments throughout the world and trying to collect and have information on their database. It would be hosted by the Law Library of Congress. So, that effort is also there. So, what I am trying to say is that we should try to co-operate with each other. We are talking about a kind of an APLAP network. That would help a lot.
Another suggestion would be to start a listserve where we can have a discussion forum and understand problems of each other, where you can pose an issue and others could respond. That would also help us a lot. I would like to caution Ms. Azeemunnisa Khan that she should not try to develop a database on her own. This is an era of distributed databases where we have to be dependent on the databases of others. Otherwise, if we start collecting information by ourselves, it would be very difficult to update them at a later date. So, we should not enter into a kind of a system where you want to collect everything, keep it all with you and be the host of all the things.
Regarding getting official information, it is a problem in almost all the countries. In fact, I did my Ph.D. on official publications. This is a real problem throughout the world, not only in your country; it is a problem everywhere. We have a system where the Government is responsible to Parliament. So, we try to get information in the name of Parliament. We have found that almost all the data comes to us. Sometimes, it is in electronic form and at some other times it is in print form.
We have to organise our own system and enter into exchange programmes with each other. The Parliament of India is having exchange programmes with a number of Parliaments where we are not only exchanging parliamentary information but also governmental information. With the US Government, we have an exchange programme where we are getting the US Government’s official publications. With Britain, we had it earlier but it got discontinued because they felt that there were trade imbalances and did not agree to continue. We have such exchange programmes with a lot of other countries also.
There is another problem. Once you go to the Internet, you would find that a lot of information is US dominated. We have to see how best we could develop our own information on the Net and how we could provide information through our portals and that is very important. We have taken efforts on these lines. We have an institution called National Informatics Centre. We have the Technical Director with us here. This institution has taken a step where they have developed a portal of all government information. So, you can go through any government information that you want through this portal. Therefore, this kind of an initiative could also be taken up. We do not have the time. Otherwise, I would have told you one or two success stories of Parliament where we had asked the Government to give information and they had given us the information. We did that so that people could make use of such information. There are a lot of success stories in the Indian context which could be deliberated upon later.
We have had a presentation by our friend from Vietnam. The important aspect is that IT has to be taken as a tool. It should not be taken as the ultimate thing. A lot of us are trying to put it in such a way that we have started thinking whether printed publication is required or not. This is not an issue to be debated. The question is how we can make use of a tool effectively, whether it is IT or some other source, so that we are able to have the best possible co-operation with each other.
MADAM CHAIRPERSON: Thank you. You have raised a lot of questions.
Mr. Chadha was talking about better ways for APLAP members to communicate with each other and get together. Today, I was talking to Mr. Mohammed from Bangladesh. He asked me where the head office of APLAP was. At this point of time, APLAP is a very small organisation and there is no head office. It is only the executive that is operating. At present, the President, the two Vice-Presidents and I have been contacting each other by e-mail and doing a lot of other work for APLAP either in our own time or having our staff to work for APLAP. So, you cannot expect APLAP to provide expenditure for web pages with lots of information or a listserve or anything of that type. Unless we are all able to contribute together in some way, we cannot do it.
Most of you know that APLAP has a subscription fee and each of you send in your fee to become members. So, there is money for doing small things. We at present spend money arranging some conferences and paying for these conferences but there is little money to subsidise activities like putting together web pages or a listserve. Taiwan, in the early years had put together a web page and maintained a list of e-mail addresses and provided a newsletter. The Australian Library took over production of the newsletter at a later stage.
Whenever we take on challenges like developing a web page or maintaining a listserve, somebody has to be responsible for keeping it updated, for maintaining it, for monitoring it, and to make sure that it works. At this stage, I do not know whether APLAP has got the funds to do it on a full time basis but there might be other ways of managing it. If we could work it out, we can help our colleagues in other countries who are really struggling to get information. Then, we could become a much stronger organisation.
Lying beyond all these deliberations we are having today is the reason we exist. It is that as Parliament Librarians we have to develop the democracies in our nations. The more information we can provide to our Members of Parliament, the better our Governments are going to be and the better our nations are going to be.
All right, I would now like to know how many of you want to go back to the hotel for ten minutes before you would turn around and come back here for dinner. You can otherwise sit here, go to the library, have a look at your e-mails or sit around and keep chatting till eight o’clock when we have our dinner[e63] .
I think we will have only half-an-hour in the hotel. It is probably not worth the effort in my opinion.
The lady there did raise her hand saying she wanted to go back. Have you changed your mind now? Okay, we go with the majority.
Okay, we are all going to stay here and kill some time in our various ways till 8 o’ clock. Thank you all.
The Conference then adjourned for the day.
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