Written by Georgianne Bordner, University Librarian
Regent Librarians Georgi Bordner and Leanne Strum spent Sept. 20-Oct. 4 helping to improve libraries in Malaysia. They were part of a team of six members of the Association of Christian Librarians (ACL) that traveled to Kuala Lumpur to teach in a library training seminar organized by ACL’s Commission for International Library Assistance (CILA). The textbook for the course was CILA’s recently published revised edition of The Librarian’s Manual, which Georgi had assisted in editing as CILA Team Coordinator. The training seminar was co-sponsored by the host institution Alpha Omega International College in Petaling Jaya, a suburb of Kuala Lumpur, and Global Mosaic International, a mission organization headed by Dr. Evelyn Biles, an adjunct professor in Regent’s School of Psychology and Counseling.
During the week-long seminar, the team taught all aspects of basic librarianship to a group of 20 students representing 15 libraries, including church libraries and K-12 schools as well as Bible colleges and seminaries. About half of the attendees were from the Kuala Lumpur area, with others from more distant parts of Malaysia and one each from Singapore, Myanmar, and the Philippines. A few already had library degrees and were there hoping to support and network with the others, as well as brush up on their skills. Others had little or no library experience, but had just recently been asked to work in their institutions’ libraries. All spoke English very well, and were eager to learn as much as possible. The trainers were thankful for the way in which the more experienced librarians were able to help their fellow students in the “hands-on” lab sessions and other group activities.
After the training seminar, team members split up for a few days to visit the libraries of some of the participants for additional consultation. Georgi and Leanne visited the library at the Seminari Theoloji Malaysia in Seremban, about an hour and a half from Petaling Jaya, where they advised the librarians on the organization of their archives and the cataloging and circulation of multimedia kits. The entire team also took a two-day trip to Singapore, where Georgi and several other team members visited the library at Singapore Bible College and discussed collection development and library assessment with the librarian and the Dean of the English Theology School. In all of their library visits and discussions with participants in the training seminar, the team members found that while the libraries there face many of the same problems as our American libraries, they also have to deal with unique situations that required the trainers to be flexible and adjust some of their ways of doing things in order to meet the local needs.
Georgi, Leanne, and the rest of the training team are thankful to have had this opportunity to work with the seminar participants to help improve their libraries, and ultimately, the quality of education provided in their institutions. They also appreciate the opportunity they had to establish relationships with librarians that they can continue to work with in the future, by providing ongoing advice and instruction via E-mail, and possibly by working with them to offer additional training seminars in other parts of Asia such as Cambodia and Myanmar. This trip was an excellent way for Regent’s librarians to have a valuable cross-cultural experience, while playing a part in building Christian leaders on the other side of the world.