Review of The International Information and Library Review – F. McDaniel
As a rapacious student of all cultures non-Anglo-American, the state of International affairs has always been of some interest to me, and especially extends to the issue of International librarianship. To that end, I chose to look at the emerging trends in informational studies abroad through the pages of The International Information and Library Review. Formerly titled the International Library Review, this peer-review journal, according to its masthead, has been in existence for over twenty years publishing articles by scholars, librarians, and information scientists from all over the globe. To stay up-to-date, I reviewed the most current two-year run, which was 2011-2012 or a total of fifty articles, twenty-seven in the 2011 volume and twenty-three in the 2012 volume.
Demographically, these fifty articles cover the Eurasian, African, and Australian continent, with the majority of the writings concentrated in Southern Asia, in and around the Indian Subcontinent. Which should actually come as no surprise considering that information and communication technologies (ICTs), such as cell phones and computers and PDAs, are on the rise, and according to Muhammad Rafiq and Kanwal Ammen the Asian and Pacific regions are fast becoming the world leaders in ICTs.
Most of the pieces published within this two-year span, methodologically, were either quantifiable or comparative studies, meaning they either involved the author sending out some form of information gathering sheet, such as a survey, which was then tallied and polled into hard data that could be studied and acted upon. Or else, an author looked at two informational entities and compared and contrasted them, like Mario Pérez-Montoro and Anna Maria Tammaro’s “Outcomes of the Bologna Process in LIS Higher Education: Comparing Two Programs in Europe.” Very few fell under the category of an informative piece that was meant to alert the reader to a given issue in the information world, like Pen Han Lim’s article “The Changing Role of School/Media Resource Libraries in Secondary School in Singapore and the Need to Implement Mandatory Standards, 1946-2010: Issues, Challenges and Opportunities.”
Thematically, there was a visible shift, albeit gradual, within this short period of time. Initially authors were writing about what we as information specialists know or should know and the best way to share that knowledge. In 2011 the keywords that continuously appeared were competencies, information management/seeking/gathering, information literacy, knowledge sharing, and ethics. Yet by 2012 the buzz words were internet, World Wide Web, and information and communication technologies. Many authors were quick to point out that we live in an age of advancing technologies that are changing the way we receive, gather, and disseminate information. The information has not changed, just the way in which we cull and keep it. The focus is now on how we can use today’s technology within the library in the form of online periodicals, databases, e-books, and institutional repositories; or, as an extension of the library as through social networks, blogs, even text messaging. Unfortunately the consensus also seems to be that this is not being fully realized in the global library.
Location still matters when it comes to the access and quality of information. Developed countries, with the United States leading the way, still have greater access to digital information because of better infrastructure and deliberate policy making. In Bangladesh, author’s Md. Jamal Uddin and M. Mezbah-up-Islam understand the need for increased informational services and infrastructure in the rural villages. In their article they construct a very detailed plan on how to implement this from top to bottom; but all this is dependent on funding, which would come from the government, who would need to be invested in their plan.
One thing is for certain, libraries and the training of librarians have been around on an international level for quite some time. In Yared Mammo’s article “Rebirth of Library and Information Science Education in Ethiopia: Retrospectives and Prospectives,” it is noted that the first LIS program began in 1959. Similarly, author after author tell of library programs that had their inception in the mid- to late-1900s. Nafiz Zaman Shuva takes it one step further and informs his reader that the first computer was introduced in Bangladesh in 1964; at first in the private sector then again that same year at the Institute of Statistical Research and Training and a few years later at the Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology. What this means is that countries in the developing world are not playing catch-up in the sense that they have just started to think about information literacy, dissemination of information, or technology. Unfortunately, infrastructures and budgets have not been able to keep up with the changing times but the same cannot be said about the desire to be responsible stewards of information.
One of the more interesting topics is that was addressed by at least one author was storytelling as an instructional tool. We are aware that in many parts of the developing world oral traditions are alive and well, and one of the main ways of sharing knowledge, especially from one generation to the next. But in Sri Lanka author Pradeepa Wijetunge investigates storytelling as a way to impart tacit information from one member of an organization, or in this case, a long-standing librarian just about to retire, to another, or the staff she leaves behind. And what she discovers is that while the process can be long and arduous to information gleaned is invaluable.
To sum up what I believe to be the overarching theme in these articles is that as we move forward into an unknown technological age the possibilities for gathering and storing and disseminating information are endless; and as information specialists tasked with this duty we must make conscious decisions that will allow our profession to keep pace with the technology and the demands of our core audience. We must be active, not passive; proactive, not reactive; and we must work together from the top to the bottom.
“Information…as a resource is capable of transforming and improving the living standards of the individuals…[but] to enhance the value and utility of information requires an understanding of the needs of the information users and provision of information in the appropriate format and level.”
 “International Information and Library Review,” Elsevier. accessed September 24, 2013, http://www.journals.elsevier.com/international-information-and-library-review.
 Muhammad Rafiq and Kanwal Ammen, “Use of Digital Media and Demand for Digitized Contents in Higher Education Sector of Pakistan,” The International Information and Library Review 44, no. 3 (2012): 117. doi: 10.1016/j.iilr.2012.04.007.
 Md. Jamal Uddin and M. Mezbah-ul-Islam, “The Flow of, and Access to, Information in Bangladesh: A Village Level Case Study,” The International Information and Library Review 44, no. 4 (2012): 224-232. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.iilr.2012.10.001.
 Yared Mammo, “Rebirth of Library and Information Science Education in Ethiopia: Retrospectives and Prospectives,” The International Information and Library Review 43, no. 2 (2011): 110. doi: 10.1016/j.iilr.2011.04.003.
 Nafiz Zaman Shuva, “Building Digital Libraries in Bangladesh: A Developing Country Perspective,” The International Information and Library Review 44, no. 3 (2012): 133. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.iilr.2012.07.002.
 Pradeepa Wijetunge, “Organizational Storytelling as a Method of Tacit-Knowledge Transfer: Case Study from a Sri Lankan University,” The International Information and Library Review 44, no. 4 (2012): 212-223. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.iilr.2012.09.001.
 Jamal Uddin and Mezbah-ul-Islam, “The Flow of, and Access to, Information in Bangladesh: A Village Level Case Study,” 225.