I just got back from attending the 5th international conference on Asia-Pacific Library & Information Education & Practice (A-LIEP 2013). The Information and Communication Management Program Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences, Khon Kaen University, organized this academic event very well. There were many interesting research papers presented as good as the previous conference did in Malaysia two years ago.
After joining the A-LIEP 2013, what really made me think to myself further was one of challenging questions: Where have been Library and Information Science Departments in Thailand heading towards? From my (limited) viewpoint, there are at least three possible models I gained from listening to LIS experts/academics who have first-hand experience of strengthening their LIS schools/departments in developed countries, e.g. Australia, Japan, Singapore, and Taiwan.
Unsurprisingly, the first model, which several LIS schools/departments aiming to be, is to follow the information school approach originated in the USA. I-schools recruit faculty members from different backgrounds ranging from pure science and technology, social science, to humanities. These schools have been established to delve deeply into information products and services, human-information behaviors, information and communication technology, and management of information-related organizations.
The next model I heard at the A-LIEP 2013 presentation sessions is GLAM that is an acronym for ‘Galleries, Libraries, Archives, and Museums.’ Even if this model is actually not new, it shows an identity of LIS discipline as a science and arts of handling information resources of cultural heritage that goes beyond the area of library studies. All of the GLAM concern information organizations as memories for humanity at local, national, regional and continental level. The LIS schools/departments focusing on this holistic domain tend to train graduates to have core knowledge and skills suitable for working in the GLAM sector.
A few schools/departments may choose to create their own models of managing LIS education or programs. It depends on each LIS institution will find its strengths or special expertise that fit the stakeholders’ needs. However, this D-I-Y model is still similar to the two above-mentioned models in terms of maintaining the LIS schools/departments position in the information-related marketplace.
Last but not least, it is essential for LIS academics in Thailand to make some crucial decisions on the model of developing their workplace. Whatever the future way they choose, it will unavoidably affect them forever in terms of working environment as well as career path.