By : Edison Ricket (Librarian, Pustaka Negeri Sarawak)
The World Library and Information Congress (WLIC) is held every year in a different region of the world and 2016 marks the Congress’ return to the US for the first time since 2001. The IFLA World Library and Information Congress is the international flagship of the professional and trade event for the library and information services sector. It brings together over 3,200 participants from more than 137 countries. It sets the international agenda for the profession and offers opportunities for networking and professional development to all delegates. It is an opportunity for the host country to showcase the status of libraries and information science in their country and region as well as to have their professionals experience international librarianship and international relations in a unique way. The congress also offers an international trade exhibition with over 80 exhibitors and an exhibition of approximately 1008 m2.
One useful and entertaining features of the Congress is its poster sessions, where individuals and groups can showcase their work through posters or graphics and discuss their projects with other Congress attendees. This is the time when librarians get an opportunity to experience (all in one place) the wide variety of library projects and research initiatives taken all over the world. This year’s sessions featured 206 posters from 104 countries around the world.
Pustaka Negeri Sarawak presented a poster titled “Sarawak (Malaysia) Family Literacy Program Model: Community Strategies For Promoting Literacy”, at the IFLA WLIC 2016 which was held in the Greater Columbus Convention Centre (GCCC), Columbus, Ohio, USA from 13 to 16 August 2016. About 3,200 people from 137 countries visited the Congress this time. Pustaka Negeri Sarawak also participated at the Malaysia Libraries Exhibition that was coordinated by the National Library of Malaysia here as well.
Authored by Edison Ricket (Librarian, Library Services Sector, Pustaka Negeri Sarawak), the poster showcased Pustaka’s collaborative strategy on the family literacy project in 2016 known as “Reading Seeds”, which is a program that supports the development of reading skills in young children. The poster provided information on the importance of developing early literacy skills among children from birth to age three. Parents, care givers, toddlers, clinic assistants and nurses at mother and child clinics are engaged (through reading workshop) to help enhance the skills required for independent reading, while fostering growth in the children’s vocabulary, building their confidence in expression and expanding the background knowledge that they bring to every reading task. It supports what previous researchers have said about improving children’s reading acquisition, the evidence on the importance of the home and parental involvement as well as challenges to home and parental involvement. From 2003 to 2016, the Sarawak State Library implemented three phases of the family literacy initiatives namely: Phase 1 – Born To Read: 2001 – 2011; Phase Every Child Ready To Read; 2012 – 2015 and Phase 3 – Reading Seeds: from 2015 onwards). Through the Reading Seeds program, each baby born in Sarawak’s hospital will get a free reading kit known as the Reading Seeds Baby Pack. The reading kit included two baby books, one reading manual for the parent, library registration card and information on the nearest libraries. The Sarawak State lLbrary partners with the State and Federal Government namely the Ministry of Welfare, Women and Family Development; Ministry of Local Government; Sarawak Health Department; Ministry of Women, Family and Community Development, Ministry of Tourism and Culture Malaysia and the National Library of Malaysia.
The Pustaka Negeri Sarawak poster was one of 206 posters displayed for three days in the Exhibition Hall. Since the location is very close to vendors’ exhibition, it ensured high visibility among attendees. During the two two-hour sessions on 15 and 16 August 2016, Edison Ricket talked about the poster with many interested parties. Many viewers chose to capture the poster with their phones/cameras. While undocumented, many more attendees viewed the poster during the remaining hours that it was on display unattended.
Networking opportunities are the most beneficial results of presenting a poster. In addition to having face-to-face meetings with other IFLA attendees, there were many wonderful opportunities to interact with librarians from the United States and across the globe such as the Philippines, Taiwan, UAE, Korea and Nigeria who were interested in providing library services similar to the Reading Seeds Project to their respective rural population. For others, the seed of this Reading Seeds Project was planted as a realistic service that could be replicated within their own communities.