April 2001, Vol. 1, No.1
Continuing Professional Development (CPD): A Commitment That Defines the Professional
Dr. Mumtaz A. Anwar, Professor, Kuwait University, Kuwait
Knowledge can never be static. It keeps on evolving all the time through new discovery, revalidation, refinement, and rejection. Professional knowledge, out of necessity, cannot be any thing but dynamic because it is public service-oriented and has human welfare as its primary objective. An individual who makes a choice to become a Ďprofessionalí makes a lifetime commitment to remain up-to-date in his knowledge in order to practice. It is unthinkable that a Ďprofessionalí will continue to practice or, in some professions, allowed to practice without continuously refreshing his competencies as required by latest developments in his field. One cannot imagine a lawyer, a physician, an engineer, or an accountant to remain successful in his practice without updating his knowledge. As a matter of fact, some professions make compulsory for its members to go though continuous education on a regular basis. This issue has been raised in the LIS professional literature.
This dynamism of professional knowledge has been further accelerated by the onslaught of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) from the mid-1980s onwards. The introduction of ICT into various professional activities has forced all the professions, especially those that deal with information, to re-examine the base of their competencies necessary to perform, in the continuously changing environment, effectively and successfully. Such a re-examination should lead to the complete re-structure of the curriculum in the light of innovations in and applications of ICT, renewal of present educators, and continuing professional development of existing practitioners.
Advanced countries are quick to adopt and adapt. To a certain extent, the LIS profession in these countries has initiated necessary adjustments that are still going on. This has so far not happened in developing countries. There are legitimate and understandable reasons for this. It will be unfair to solely blame the educators and the practitioners for non-renewal. For one thing, this situation is pervasive in all professions. Absence of national and professional leadership, lack of clear-cut national and professional goals, institutional and personal apathy, and lack of necessary resources put together can produce a very potent recipe for maintaining a status quo. And that is what has so far happened.
Situation in Pakistan is no different than that in most developing countries. There are a few exceptions at the institutional level in some countries. A foreigner working in South Asia recently remarked that LIS curriculum in these countries is 40 years old. That may be a gross exaggeration but those who are familiar with the situation know for fact that the present curriculum, at least in Pakistan, is out-of-date and unsuitable for the current market needs. At the same time a large majority of the present educators lack ICT skills essential for teaching a revised curriculum. We can claim that we are teaching a reasonably current curriculum. We can lean on UGCís revision of the curriculum that was out-of-date as soon adopted. With all the odds that our educators face, including the difficult process of re-education, it is safer to engage in self-denial Ė adopting an attitude of make-belief that everything is all right.
Without going into much further detail, there are several areas that must be addressed and done so on an urgent basis. The curriculum needs to be revised with the help of those who are familiar with current developments. There is no shortage of people who will be more than willing to help. At least one faculty member from each university should be given extensive training to handle those curriculum areas where ICT is essential. All faculty members must be given some training in basic ICT skills. Teaching methods using ICT should be adopted. Necessary resources for teaching the up-dated curriculum should be developed. A national Continuing Professional Development program for practitioners should be designed and adopted.
It is strange that an elementary school teacher with 10 years of education and P.T.C. training who teaches alif, ba, ta and 2 plus 3 to children is given refresher courses on a regular basis arranged and funded by the government. The same government neglects the LIS professionals who assist in teaching and research at a much higher level. The Pakistan Library Association and its provincial branches should take up this issue with the government so that refresher courses for working librarians are organized by the related authorities on a regular basis. I also appeal to the LIS leadership in Pakistan, especially the educators in the universities, to take courage, acknowledge that some thing needs to be done to train manpower that is worthy of its profession, and initiate the process of revision of curriculum and re-education. It will be a painful exercise but it must be done. And I am sure that means to do that will not be wanting. I hope and pray that my wish is granted. [Contents]
Workshop on Library and Information Science Education in Electronic Environment
Al Khair University (AJK), Islamabad, organized a two-day (January 3-4, 2001) international workshop on "Library and Information Science Education in Electronic Environment" in a local hotel that brought LIS educators and practitioners from both the government and non-government sectors from all over the country. In his key address, Dr. Anwar Siddiqui, Vice-Chancellor of Allama Iqbal Open University (AIOU), said that the revolution in Information Technology and Management has evolved the importance of distance education and librarians have to play a new role in organizing and delivering information in the virtual environment. Dr. Khairat Mohammad Ibne-Rasa, Vice-Chancellor of Al Khair University (AJK) highlighted the importance of librarians and their services to the community.
In his presentation, Dr. Sajjad ur Rehman, Professor of Library and Information Science Program at Kuwait University, reviewed in detail, based on his teaching and consultancy experience, the current state of LIS education in Malaysia, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, Kuwait, and the United States. He explained how Malaysia and Kuwait have changed the syllabi of their respective LIS programs and transformed these to match the needs and requirements of today's environment. He also pinpointed areas in the LIS curriculum in Pakistan that should be revised and updated to meet the market need of its libraries. Mr. Henry Mendelsohn, Information Resource Officer (IRO) at the American Embassy, urged that the role of librarians has changed in the electronic environment and outlined the role of information professionals in building, evaluating, and organizing the electronic and online databases.
Dr. Fazil Khan Baloch, Chairman of Department of Library and Information Science (LIS) at Islamia University Bahawalpur (IUB), mentioned that IUB was the first to implement the University Grants Commission's (UGC) last recommended syllabus and it was working for its improvement. He also said that the graduates of LIS from IUB were serving in the highly reputed libraries and resource centers in foreign missions, NGOs and academic institutions of Pakistan. The Public Service Commission (PSC) had selected a number of its graduates. The Chairperson at the Department of Library and Information Science, Karachi University, Miss Malahat Kaleem Sherwani, told the participants that they have revised the curriculum to make it more relevant and applicable in the virtual world of information.
This timely initiative by Al Khair University (AJK) was an important step toward the empowerment of LIS professionals in Pakistan. The university showed its commitment in promoting the cause of information technology. It provided an opportunity and a platform to senior LIS educators of Pakistan to re-think about and reinvent the LIS curriculum in order to prepare future generations of LIS professionals for the new millennium. This two-day workshop noted the need for the following: revised course work compatible with the new IT developments; use of latest methods of instruction; and regular communication among the LIS educators.
Mr. Imtiaz Iqdas Goraya, Project Director of Al Khair University, thanked the resource persons and the participants for facilitating a comprehensive discussion about the LIS education in Pakistan. The Chief Librarian of the University of Azad Jammu and Kashmir, Muzaffarabad coordinated the workshop. [Contents]
Workshop on Knowledge Organization Through Electronic Tools
We are well aware of the ever-increasing effects of information technology on our lives, both in our homes as well as in our offices. IT has also revolutionized the ways of information management, searching, and retrieval, giving birth to electronic tools that work much more efficiently than the traditional ones. Since information technology is developing very rapidly, there is a critical need for continuous training of information professionals, so that they can fully exploit and harness these information and knowledge management tools to their best advantage. Realizing this need, the American Center Islamabad, took the initiative to organize a two-day training workshop on "Knowledge Organization Through Electronic Tools" on January 31- Feb 1, 2001, in collaboration with the Pakistan Library Association, Punjab Branch.
Prof. Dr. Sajjad Ur Rehman, Professor, Library and Information Science Program at Kuwait University, conducted this workshop. Initially, this workshop aimed at training about 20 librarians but, keeping in view the scope of the subject and interest of the professionals, the number of participants increased to 28 representing various cities of the Punjab province. They were given hands-on training during the two-day program. The course content included:
The participants highly rated the subject matter, the arrangements, and the subject grasp of the resource person.[Contents]
Creation of a Fund for Research in Information Studies: An Announcement
Since both of us are working in information related fields, we are strongly aware of the importance of a capable and skillful manpower that is up-to-date in professional knowledge. It is also critical to produce quality research literature to support the working professionals. Through our discussions at home and our contacts with some of our fatherís colleagues, we feel that much more attention needs to be given to conduct quality research in information studies in Pakistan. One of the many factors blamed for lack of research activity is the absence of financial support available to research scholars.
We feel that all of us owe it to our nation to create a positive environment for conducting research and publication of professional literature. We have decided to make a humble beginning in that direction by establishing a research fund in our fatherís name with an initial amount of Rs. 50,000. We hope to supplement it by additional contributions annually by ourselves and from our fatherís colleagues and students. The procedures for research grants will be announced in the near future.
Arman & Sarosh Anwar, USA [Contents]
AIOU Launches MLIS
Allama Iqbal Open University has launched its Masterís program in Library and Information Science through distance learning. The University has announced five half-credit courses in its first semester starting from Spring 2001. It would be the first master level LIS program through distance education in Pakistan. Details are available from Mr. Ishtiaq Ahmed, Incharge, Dept. of Library and Information Science, AIOU at firstname.lastname@example.org [Contents]
Jinnah University for Women Offers MLIS
Jinnah University for Women, Karachi, established in the private sector, has announced to start its two-year MLIS program from the current academic session. Further information is available at email@example.com [Contents]
Punjab University Students Celebrate World Book Day
The students of the Department of Library and Information Science celebrated the World Book Day on 1st March 2001. They visited the Vice-Chancellor, Registrar, Deans, and faculty of various departments informing them of the importance of books and reading in the process of teaching and learning. They posted wall charts bearing slogans for the promotion of reading in various departmental libraries on campus. They also participated in a speech competition and quiz program arranged by the department on this occasion. [Contents]
PU Vice-Chancellor Approves a Computer Lab for DLIS
Lt. Gen. (Retd.) Arshad Mahmood, Vice-Chancellor, University of the Punjab, visited the Department of Library and Information Science. He admired the services of the Department being rendered to the community. He emphasized the use of modern information technology in educating librarians for the new era. On this occasion, he approved a computer lab with 11 PCs (P-III) and other accessories to be established in the Department. [Contents]
Ch. Javed Iqbal Delivers A Special Lecture at DLIS
Ch. Javed Iqbal, Assistant Director, The British Council, Poland, delivered a special lecture at the Department of Library and Information Science, University of the Punjab. The topic of his lecture was "Modern Librarianship: A European Perspective". [Contents]
Pakistan National Bibliography, 1947-1961, Completed
Retrospective National Bibliography of Pakistan from August 1947 to December 1961 (Pure Sciences to History & Geography; 500-900) Fascicule III compiled by the Pakistan Bibliographical Working Group (PBWG) has been published by the National Library of Pakistan. The gap in the PNB has been filled by the publication of this fascicule and now Pakistan has a complete National Bibliography right from the year 1947. [Contents]
LIS Bibliography 1991-2000 Being Prepared
The Pakistan Bibliographical Working Group (PBWG) has decided to compile and publish a bibliography of materials on library and information science published in Pakistan (or about Pakistani librarianship published abroad) during 1991-2000. For further details authors and publishers can contact at firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com [Contents]
MARC-based Library Software in Pakistan
The Intellect Systems (Pvt.) Ltd. has developed the first Pakistani USMARC-based library software available commercially. The new software called "Library Manager" includes Cataloguing, OPAC, Circulation and Web OPAC modules. The work is in progress on other modules, i.e., Acquisitions, Serials Management, Indexing and Abstracting. This software introduces, for the first time in Pakistan, the concept of copy cataloguing using USMARC files. Further details can be obtained from firstname.lastname@example.org [Contents]
PLA (Sindh) Reception in Honour of DG, NLP
Pakistan Library Association, Sindh Branch Council arranged a reception in honour of Mr. A. R. Zaheer, new Director General, National Library of Pakistan at a hotel in Karachi. [Contents]
We congratulate all colleagues for their success and achievements.[Contents]
May Almighty Allah bless the departed souls in eternal peace, and provide solace to their near and dear ones.
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