Oleh: Mohd Faizal Hamzah, PhD Pustakawan Kanan,Perpustakaan Universiti Malaya (Perpustakaan UM) Pengerusi Jawatankuasa Tetap Perkhidmatan Perpustakaan untuk Golongan Khas, Persatuan Pustakawan Malaysia
Sejak kebelakangan ini kesedaran tentang hak orang kurang upaya telah meningkat dengan lebih baik sedikit demi sedikit. Pelbagai inisiatif telah dirancang untuk memastikan bahawa orang kurang upaya dapat menikmati kualiti hidup (QoL) yang lebih selesa. Bukan itu sahaja, banyak kajian telah dijalankan bagi mengenal pasti keperluan dan setiap aspek yang terbaik untuk orang kurang upaya. Bagi mewujudkan kesetaraan sosial yang lebih baik, reka bentuk universal dan konsep inklusif menjadi titik tengah dalam mana-mana agenda nasional sesebuah Negara termasuk Malaysia. Menurut Akta Orang Kurang Upaya 2008, Akta 685, bahagian IV, Bab 1, orang kurang upaya berhak untuk (1) mendapatkan akses kemudahan awam, perkhidmatan dan menggunakan bangunan awam; (2) akses kepada kemudahan pengangkutan awam; (3) akses kepada pendidikan; (4) akses kepada pekerjaan; (5) akses kepada maklumat, komunikasi dan teknologi; (7) akses kepada kehidupan budaya, dan (8) akses kepada rekreasi, masa lapang dan sukan. Dalam melaksanakan keperluan utama hak-hak awam untuk golongan khas seperti yang termaktub dalam Akta 685, sebagai Perpustakaan Penyelidikan, Perpustakaan Universiti Malaya (UM) komited sepenuhnya dalam menyediakan keperluan asas untuk pengguna kurang upaya di kampus. Oleh itu, bengkel mengenai orang kurang upaya telah dijalankan pada 22-23 Ogos 2019 oleh Persatuan Pustakawan Malaysia (PPM) dan Perpustakaan Universiti Malaya (UM). Untuk makluman, bengkel Pelaksanaan dan Penyelarasan Perjanjian Marrakesh terlebih dahulu dicadangkan oleh Jawatankuasa Perkhidmatan Perpustakaan kepada Golongan Khas, PPM bagi sesi penggal tahun 2018/2020 dan ianya berjaya dilaksanakan pada kali ini dengan kerjasama baik Perpustakaan UM. Bagi tahun ini, sesi bengkel mendapat sambutan yang sangat baik daripada pelbagai kategori peserta termasuk, pustakawan daripada perpustakaan awam, perpustakaan akademik, perpustakaan negeri, ahli akademik dan pesara.
Objektif bengkel ini adalah seperti berikut:
i. Memastikan pustakawan diberi pendedahan awal terhadap kesan Perjanjian Marrakesh
ii. Mendedahkan tentang persediaan yang diperlukan dari segi;
– Sedia untuk bertukar / meminjam bahan secara percuma
– Peruntukan teknologi dan peralatan yang berkaitan
– Kemahiran dan sumber manusia
iii. Untuk membincangkan cara terbaik untuk memenuhi keperluan perjanjian Marrakesh
iv. Untuk meningkatkan kesedaran dan memahami konsep perpustakaan inklusif dan pusat maklumat.
Pada hari pertama, sesi bengkel tertumpu kepada penyampaian maklumat dan isu semasa yang berkaitan dengan perjanjian Marrakesh. Pada kali ini jawatankuasa penganjur telah menjemput Encik Mohd Syaufiq, Penolong Pengarah Bahagian Hak Cipta dan Pemangku Setiausaha Tribunal Hak Cipta di Perbadanan Harta Intelek Malaysia (MyIPO). Bahagian pertama bengkel ini lebih terarah kepada isu-isu berkaitan dengan Akta Hak Cipta Malaysia. Dialog yang mendalam mengenai hak cipta telah memberikan gambaran jelas tentang kesan langsung Perjanjian Marrakesh di Malaysia. Tidak seperti perjanjian asal Marrakesh, pendekatan berbeza telah diambil oleh kerajaan Malaysia untuk membenarkan juga pencetakan bahan percuma dibuat untuk golongan lain-lain jenis kecacatan dan gangguan pendengaran selain kurang penglihatan. Pada masa ini, peserta mendapat pendedahan awal mengenai kesan Perjanjian Marrakesh apabila Malaysia menandatangani perjanjian itu. Pada asasnya, Perjanjian Marrakesh merangsang perkongsian sumber secara percuma untuk orang yang buta atau kecacatan visual. Negara-negara yang telah menandatangani perjanjian Marrakesh akan membenarkan bahan-bahan bacaan dicetak dan dikongsikan secara percuma dikalangan sesama negara-negara ahli perjanjian. Walau bagaimanapun, menurut Organisasi Harta Intelek Sedunia (WIPO) menyatakan bahawa, masih terdapat keperluan yang terikat dengan undang-undang hak cipta tradisional dan ianya perlu menetapkan satu set batasan tertentu. Bahagian kedua bengkel ini memberi tumpuan kepada penyediaan perpustakaan. Beberapa isu telah dibangkitkan oleh peserta termasuk, hak cipta tesis dan disertasi, pangkalan data dalam talian, dan koleksi khas di perpustakaan. Namun begitu, peserta dapat berbincang dengan baik dan memberikan sokongan inisiatif MyIPO untuk menyerlahkan Perjanjian Marrakesh di Malaysia.
Pada hari kedua pula, sesi bengkel lebih menumpukan kepada konsep inklusiviti di perpustakaan dan pusat maklumat. Topik ini disampaikan oleh Pengerusi Jawatankuasa Tetap Perkhidmatan Perpustakaan kepada Golongan Khas, Persatuan Pustakawan Malaysia; Dr. Mohd Faizal. Ketika ini, definisi konsep inklusif telah dibincangkan dan didedahkan secara menyeluruh kepada peserta. Sebagai huraian konsep inklusif, adalah sangat penting untuk memastikan pustakawan peka keberadaan pengguna di Perpustakaan terutama golongan khas. Konsep golongan khas tidak semestinya untuk orang kurang upaya sahaja. Secara menyeluruh, perpustakaan perlu berfungsi dengan baik untuk diakses oleh wanita hamil, kanak-kanak, remaja, warga emas dan lain-lain jenis pengguna istimewa. Seterusnya, peserta pula didedahkan dengan penilaian kebolehaksesan dan inklusiviti. Pemerhatian terhadap kebolehaksesan dan inklusiviti perpustakaan harus bermula dari sekitar bangunan perpustakaan. Contoh-contoh dimensi dan skala standard untuk jalan, lif, tangga dan tandas juga ditunjukkan secara komprehensif. Bukan itu sahaja, konsep reka bentuk sejagat juga telah dibincangkan secara panjang lebar dengan para peserta. Seterusnya, di penghujung sesi akhir bengkel tersebut telah diadakan lawatan audit aksesibiliti dan inklusiviti di Perpustakaan UM. Semua peserta diberi satu set soal selidik untuk memberikan ulasan mereka terhadap pemerhatian yang dibuat. Pemerhatian bermula dari kawasan perhentian bas berhampiran perpustakaan sehingga di setiap sudut kemudahan dalam bangunan perpustakaan.
Sebagai kesimpulan, sesi bengkel ini telah memberi pengetahuan baharu kepada para peserta tentang Perjanjian Marrakesh dan inklusiviti Perpustakaan serta mengenai inisiatif Perpustakaan UM untuk menyediakan kemudahan kepada orang kurang upaya. Persatuan Pustakawan Malaysia dan Perpustakaan UM ingin mengucapkan terima kasih atas sokongan bengkel ini.
Oleh: Haritah Tanaisus, Pustakawan, PNS & Biro Penerbitan PPM Kumpulan Sabah
16 Julai 2019 merupakan hari yang amat bersejarah bagi pustakawan dan ahli Persatuan Pustakawan Kumpulan Sabah (PPMKS) kerana pada tarikh tersebut Presiden Persatuan Pustakawan Malaysia (PPM) Dato’ Nafisah Ahmad telah sudi meluangkan masa beramah mesra dengan pustakawan dari Sabah. Perjumpaan yang berlangsung di Perpustakaan Negeri Sabah Cawangan Tg. Aru pada jam 2.30 petang diihadiri seramai lebih kurang 27 orang pustakawan daripada perpustakaan di Sabah iaitu Perpustakaan Negeri Sabah (PNS) sebagai tuan rumah, Universiti Teknologi Mara (UiTM), Universiti Malaysia Sabah (UMS) dan juga INTAN Sabah.
Turut hadir dalam pertemuan ini ialah Dr. Khasiah Zakaria, Setiausaha PPM dan dua orang ahli majlis PPM iaitu Puan Siti Sumaizan Ramli dan Encik Zawawi Tiyunin. Di awal perjumpaan, Puan Dayang Salwah Pg. Abd. Razak selaku Pengerusi PPMKS, memulakan majlis dengan ucapan alu-aluan serta memberi sedikit penerangan tentang aktiviti dan program yang dirancang dan yang telah dilaksana oleh PPMKS kepada Dato’ Nafisah.
Ucapan balas Dato’ Nafisah menyatakan tujuan perjumpaan pada petang itu adalah untuk menarik lebih ramai pustakawan menjadi ahli PPM terutama sekali dari kalangan pustakawan muda. PPM adalah sebuah persatuan yang menjaga kepentingan pustakawan supaya profesion pustakawan tidak akan hilang. Dato’ Presiden PPM memaklum bahawa Persatuan banyak mengendali kursus bagi kepentingan pustakawan agar kekal relevan sejajar dengan peredaran masa. Kejayaan pustakawan adalah dengan adanya sokongan padu daripada semua pihak. Di era di mana banyak maklumat yang tidak tepat di salur melalui media sosial dan sebagai seorang pustakawan, kita sepatutnya membantu masyarakat untuk mengenalpasti samada maklumat yang diviralkan sahih atau tidak.
Selain daripada itu Dato’ Presiden PPM juga menyuntik semangat pustakawan agar perlu terus bergiat aktif dalam memaju persatuan untuk memartabat profesion ini ke peringkat yang lebih tinggi.
Sukacita dimaklumkan bahawa Kerajaan Negeri Selangor dengan kerjasama
Perbadanan Perpustakaan Awam Selangor (PPAS) dan Yayasan Ummah Ikhlas akan
menganjurkan program World #QuranHour 2019/1440 : Dunia Berbudi dan
Penyayang seperti ketetapan berikut :
Tarikh : 30 Mei 2019 (Khamis)/25 Ramadan 1440
Masa : 12 tengahari hingga 1 petang
Lokasi : Lokasi masing-masing
Visi : Islah dengan Al Quran, membentuk ciri-ciri muslim sejati berasaskan kerangka fikir Al Quran
100 juta ummah berinteraksi dengan Al Quran seluruh dunia
Memberi inspirasi kepada ummah untuk berinteraksi bersama
Al Quran Menyebarkan kebaikan dan membuat perubahan
Matlamat : Al Quran sebagai tali untuk menyatukan ummah seluruh dunia
Untuk makluman Tuan/Puan, program ini akan diadakan secara serentak di seluruh
dunia dengan penglibatan segenap lapisan masyarakat Islam.
Sehubungan itu, adalah dengan ini memohon kerjasama setiap jabatan/agensi agar dapat melaksanakan
program ini di lokasi masing-masing.
By: Dr. Nor Edzan Che Nasir, Immediate Past President, PPM 2018/2020; Member, RSCAO 2017/2020
The IFLA RSCAO Mid Term Meeting 2019 was held from 6 to 7 March 2019 at Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas. The opening of the Meeting was conducted by Mr. Francisco G. Dakila Jr., the Assistant Governor of Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas. In his opening speech, he touched on the function of the Bank’s Library, that is to increase the people’s understanding in economics and finance so that they can make informed decisions. This is referred to as financial literary skill. The Director of the National Library of the Philippines (NLP), Mr. Cesar Gilbert Q. Adrino, welcomed the delegates and we presented gifts to our guests of honour, followed by a photo session.
The Meeting was chaired by Sanjay Bihani, Chair of RSCAO and attended by Premila Gamage, Takashi Nagatsuka, Dolores Carungui, Tina Yang, Cendrella and Dr. Nor Edzan Che Nasir. Also in attendance were Tay Ai Cheng and Janice Ow from the IFLA Regional Office for Asia and Oceania.
On 8 March 2019, the RSCAO members attended the Seminar on Advancing Multiculturalism in Libraries: Partnerships and Promotions at Narra Hall held on the 19th Floor of the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas at A. Mabini St., Malate, Manila. The Seminar started out with Ms.Maria Farah D, Angka, (Officer-in-Charge, Economic & Financial Learning Center, Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas) giving her Welcoming Remarks. This was followed by Opening Remarks from Mr. Cesar Gilbert Q. Adrino, (Director, NLP). Mr.Sanjay Kumar Bihani (Chair, IFLA-RSCAO), Ms. Emma M. Rey (PLAI President) and Ms. Priscilla P. Robles (ALPS President) were invited to convey their messages. All in all, there were five presentations:
A new perspective of public libraries to offer their services to all members of multicultural society – Takashi Nagatsuka, Professor, Tsurumi University, Japan and Information Coordinator IFLA-RSCAO
NCCA-NCLIS initiatives on multiculturalism promotions – Dr. Rina H. Diaron, Vice Head, National Committee on Libraries and Information Services, National Commission for Culture and the Arts, Philippines.
Promoting empathy and peace across cultures through libraries – Ms. Arizza Ann. S. Nocum, KRIS Library,
Knowledge resource network: BSP’s program on networking and collaborations – Nelia R. Balagapo
Promoting books in mother tongue through Let’s Read App – Reynald S. Ocampo, Program Officer, Books for Asia, The Asia Foundation
The Seminar came to a close with Closing Remarks by Mr. Edgardo B. Quiros (Assistant Chief, NLP). The entire seminar was facilitated by Dolores D, Carungui, from the NLP
The RSCAO members attended numerous dinners and was taken on a library and cultural tour of Manila. They visited the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas Library and Money Museum; National Library of the Philippines; National Museum; Rizal Park; Intramuros area and the Quezon City Public Library.
IFLA WLIC Moscow 1991 certainly counts as one of the most tumultuous in the history of this conference series. The tremendous achievements of IFLA over many decades are well documented. It is perhaps as important to bear in mind that any long road will have its bumps and potholes, but the destination is well worth reaching. This issue recalls the Moscow 1991 historic Congress through the memories of the Malaysian contingent that comprised the following three librarians.
• Mrs Mariam Kadir (now Datin), Director General, National Library of Malaysia (NLM); representing NLM and Malaysia on the Conference of Directors of National Libraries (CDNL), and in various groups.
• Mrs Adeline Leong (now Datuk), Sabah State Library Director, representing Sabah on the Mobile Libraries Round Table Group.
• Mrs Khoo Siew Mun, Chief Librarian, University of Malaya. paper presenter on the topic ‘National and academic libraries axis in Malaysia’ at the IFLA Pre-Session Seminar on The Role and Objectives of National Libraries in the New Information Environment, 12-16 August, 1991.
[Note: In this write-up, posts and positions cited are those held in 1991 by the individuals named.]
By Datin Mariam Kadir
The first IFLA Conference I attended was in Grenoble in 1976, together with the Pre-IFLA Seminar on National Bibliographies. After that, I participated in numerous other IFLA conferences and Pre-IFLA meetings throughout my career in the National Library of Malaysia. When I look back over the years, the IFLA Conference in Moscow in August 1991 is the one that I remember most vividly – not for the excellent papers presented, nor the stimulating discussions, but for the harrowing 10 days that I went through! I was right there witnessing history being made: the fall of the Soviet Union and emergence of Russia and other smaller nations.
Let me tell you my adventure.
The Moscow IFLA Conference was from 18-24 August 1991. I had arrived 3 days earlier to attend the Conference of Directors of National Libraries (CDNL) and a few Pre-IFLA satellite meetings. The Malaysian Embassy had sent a staff to help me to check in at the Rossiya Hotel. That evening, I had dinner at the Malaysian Ambassador’s house. I recall that HE the Ambassador cautioning me not to go out alone, but to go about with other delegates to attend the Conference. I was also to call the Embassy should anything untoward happen. The fact that I was staying at the Rossiya seemed to have caused the Ambassador some anxiety. The Rossiya Hotel, a majestic building which I was told was once a Summer Palace, was right next to the Red Square and St Basil’s Cathedral, and very close to the Kremlin. Many of the American, Australian, and British participants were also staying there, and I felt safe with them.
I had a free afternoon on 17 August, and since this was before the start of the conference sessions, I decided to visit the Red Square and St Basil’s. I called the Embassy to inform them of my intentions. They immediately sent an embassy staff to escort me. I lingered around the area, taking photographs. To my surprise, my escort kept on hurrying me to leave the Red Square. As we were leaving, I noticed that there were soldiers with guns everywhere, standing guard. My escort grabbed my hand, and we practically ran into the Rossiya. She hurriedly told me that she had to leave before the metro trains stopped running.
My room was on the third floor, facing the Red Square. That night, at around 2 a.m., I heard loud rumblings of heavy vehicles outside. I peeped out, and saw tanks with their hatches open, and soldiers armed with machine guns, making their way into the Red Square and the Kremlin. That was when I started to panic a little. I tried to call the Ambassador, but I could not get through, and the line seemed to have been cut off.
Next morning, at breakfast, the delegates were all discussing whether to attend that day’s sessions, and if so, how best to get to the conference venue. I was keen to attend some of the first day’s sessions. A few of the American delegates took me under their wing (it must have been because I looked vulnerable and lost!). I followed them. We walked to two underground stations before we could get a train. The train stop was far from the Conference Centre, and we had to walk quite a distance. When I entered the seminar room, there were only about ten delegates, no chairman, and only one paper presenter. We had a discussion on her paper. At the next session, we had the chairman, a handful of delegates, but no paper presenter. We abandoned the session. It was simply chaotic, and everyone was only interested in the coup that was happening all around us.
Soldiers and Ladies Who Comforted Them
That night, the American delegates took me along with them to follow the CNN camera crew and reporters at a square. There I watched a statue of Lenin being pulled down by an angry mob. On the way back to the Rossiya, we passed tanks with soldiers. I moved closer with the CNN crew who were busily filming. It was then that I realized that the soldiers who at a distance seemed so intimidating, were just young men in their late teens, who looked bewildered and scared. Close by them were some Russian women. They were talking in soft tones to the boys, and were offering them flowers and cigarettes. The women were actually trying to calm the jittery and confused young soldiers. On an impulse, I went up to one of the women, who was crying, and hugged her in sympathy.
By 20 August, most of the American and Australian delegates at the Rossiya had left for home. I managed to get through to the Embassy; I was advised to stay on until my scheduled flight home. And I am glad that I did, as I was able to witness not only the beginning, but also the end, of the coup. The Embassy managed to send a telegram to the National Library and also to my Father, informing them that I was safe and well.
Shopping in Moscow
Near the Rossiya Hotel was the GUM shopping mall, one of the biggest in Moscow. Though food at breakfast, lunch and dinner at the Rossiya was plentiful, meals served were quite pricy. So I went to the GUM to search for snack-food that I thought might be cheaper; and to buy some souvenirs. All the shelves at the Food Hall were empty. If I wanted to buy anything, I had to produce a Moscow-resident card. Finally, I found some pretty Matushka dolls and other souvenirs from street stalls. Today, they serve to remind me of some exciting times past!
The visit to the Lenin Library was another adventure. We were not provided with any transport and had to walk to the Library along a longer route through parks in order to avoid road-blocks. The Lenin Library was huge and awesome. Our hosts could only provide us with soft drinks, biscuits and nuts; but our visit was memorable.
The highlight at the end of the IFLA Conference has to be the Farewell Reception on the night of the 24th at the Kremlin. With the news that the coup was over, and with our realization that the IFLA Conference had carried on to its last day as scheduled, it was cause for double celebration. The Moscow IFLA Conference Organizers fully deserve this happy ending!
By Datuk Adeline Leong
[Extracted from a newspaper report]
State Library Director Adeline Leong who was in the Russian capital of Moscow during a recent coup in the country, returned home today [23 August 1991], saying it was good to be home, after the ‘scary experience of seeing a coup unfolding just in front of you…. I thank God for allowing me to reach home safely’, said Puan Leong, who was greeted at the airport by her husband K. C. Leong and their 12-year old daughter, Jasmine.
‘There were no signs of the impending coup when we arrived in Moscow. It was only on our third day there, Monday, that the coup took place, but initially there were no outward signs that something significant had occurred. It was only over the radio that there were announcements in Russian that President Mikhail Gorbachev had relinquished his powers. These announcements were translated by [library] guides assigned to us. However, we also heard rumours that Gorbachev had been placed under house arrest.’ According to Puan Leong, many Russians were dismayed when they learnt of President Gorbachev’s ouster.
‘Many of the Russians asked us to pray for them. They had the first taste of democracy under his leadership and they did not want their country sliding back to the past with the takeover of the Communist hardliners’, she said.
Throngs of People
Later the same day, after attending the first session of the Conference at the Moscow Congress Centre, Puan Leong said she and other participants encountered difficulty going to the Rossiya Hotel to attend the Opening Ceremony of the conference. The Congress Centre was just adjacent to the Russian Parliament, which became the focal point of resistance against the coup which [the resistance] was led by the President of the Russian Republic, Boris Yeltsin.
‘Within hours after the coup was made known, there must have been hundreds of thousands of people who thronged the Parliament to listen to Yeltsin. Because of this, the roads were blocked leading to massive traffic jams around the city. We managed to follow a bus carrying the Swedish delegation and it crawled past the Parliament and it was the first time I saw tanks and the masses of people. After more than an hour, the bus came to a halt because of the crowds, forcing the delegates to take the metro subway. At that time, it was raining and after the metro, we had to walk for 30 minutes, and by the time we reached the Hotel Rossiya, our legs and shoes were wet and muddy.
‘There was an atmosphere of gloom during the ceremony. The Russian Minister of Culture seemed half-hearted as he delivered his speech. The delegates returned to their respective hotels again using the metro and in the stations there were posters put up by those resisting the coup, calling on the public to stage a general strike.’
‘By Tuesday, the situation worsened as the crowds around the Parliament Building increased, causing traffic jams. Following the coup, many of the 900 Russian and foreign delegates began leaving the city. During this time all three Malaysian delegates were in constant contact with the [Malaysian] Embassy, giving them details of our whereabouts. During this period, the Russian hotels could only provide sparse meals consisting of cold meat such as beef and salami and bread for breakfast, lunch and dinner. After this type of food, I was longing for rice and a hot meal!’ On Tuesday night, she could hear gunfire from her hotel room, and was told that three people had been killed by tanks.
Adeline stayed on to complete the tasks for which she was attending the conference. ‘I was a member of the Mobile Libraries Round Table Group’; she attended meetings for this Group, as well as attending other meetings and sessions, including that of the Asia and Oceania group.
Puan Leong subsequently managed to get a seat on an Aeroflot flight to Jakarta on Wednesday [22 August]. ‘The airport was about a one-hour ride by car from the city. On the way, I saw hundreds of tanks going in the opposite direction. However, when I arrived at the airport, I heard the leaders of the coup had surrendered and Gorbachev was flying into Moscow. The tanks I saw were actually retreating. As word that the coup was over spread among the people there were shouts of exhilaration and laughter. You could feel the relief experienced by the Russians!’
Source: Extracted and partly rendered in the active voice, from an article ‘Library Head recalls ordeal in Moscow during coup’ by Ruben Sario, Daily Express [a Sabah daily], 24 August 1991. Reprinted with permission. With new recollections.
By Khoo Siew Mun
The 57th IFLA Council and Congress held in Moscow between 18-24 August 1991 was a particularly poignant experience. The first day of the Conference coincided dramatically with the attempted coup d’état that was to unseat Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev, and ushered in unheralded developments that were to change the face of the Soviet Union forever.
Apart from the main body of delegates I had been invited to join a small group of librarians representing 18 developing countries in the Pre-IFLA Seminar to discuss the roles of national bibliographic agencies in information development1. We were put up at the Institute of Youth, which we understood was, until recently, a KGB training venue. We were never able to establish the veracity of this rumour, but there were remnants of aircraft parts in sheds – unusual for a youth institute. The Institute was set amidst beautiful woods near the Kuskovo Ceramic Museum, and was about an hour’s drive away from downtown Moscow. Although some of the facilities such as toilets and bathrooms were rather primitive, our compensation lay in the sessions, which were lively and serious; and in the delegates, who were professional and knowledgeable, besides being very warm, friendly and caring.2 In addition to information, food, medicines, and basic necessities (such as soap and washing detergents, lacking in our accommodation), were exchanged with much good humour. Over the course of the Seminar, we packed in a great deal of work and activity. At the end of the week, the delegates, though separately speaking English, French, Russian and Spanish, in addition to their native tongues, had forged firm friendships; these friendships were to stand us in good stead in the trying times that lay ahead.
Our evening outings for dinner in downtown Moscow were eye-openers into the Russian economy. For the princely sum of about 250 roubles per head (about USD7 or M$20), our group (ranging from 8 to 16 persons) dined in restaurants like the Central and the Bazaar, which had floor shows to boot. Meals included all the wine we could drink; vodka (a little raw); fruity Russian champagne; caviar, red and black (that were actually labelled beluga and sevruga!), eaten with hot fragrant wafer-thin blini; entrées of smoked salmon or tuna; main courses of fish or meat; finished off with wonderful ice creams and coffee.
I was glad for this week. It allowed me to see a little of Moscow and the Muscovites’ way of life, some facets of which fascinated me. These included surreptitious worship at churches, the flourishing black-market sale of luxury goods, dour long queues to purchase whatever was being offered; and the contrasting beautiful flower stalls in nooks and corners of the city, and the gaiety of wedding entourages in unlikely places such as the Red Square and the campus of Moscow University.
Day 1 of the Coup
The day of 19 August dawned cold and rainy: a proper setting for that historic day. As I stepped out into the corridor at 7.30 a.m. for breakfast, and then to board the bus that the Organizers had thoughtfully provided to ferry us to and from our hostel to downtown Moscow, my good friend Mlaki 3 appeared and announced in shocked tones that Gorbachev had been deposed. Mlaki had the foresight to bring along his own transistor radio and had heard the news over the BBC. The news soon spread. It was the only topic at breakfast. Our librarian guides stayed glued to the local radio broadcasts (in Russian). We had never been late for the 8 a.m. bus; that morning, we did not even begin to move until 8.30 a.m. We agreed with our guides that we should get to the main Conference Centre to obtain further news. There was another reason why I had wanted to get into Moscow city centre that day. The previous week, a few of us had arranged with Madame Irina Bagrova and Madame Tuylina, two most knowledgeable and gentle lady librarians who were attached to the Lenin Library (formerly called the Lenin State Library of the USSR), to visit their Library. Among the libraries in the world, there are a few in the West that most librarians would give their eye-teeth to visit: the British Library, Library of Congress, Bibliothèque Nationale de France, and the Lenin State Library. I had visited all the others, and coup or no coup, I was determined to tour the Lenin Library with my Asean colleagues, Mrs Thara Kanakamani, Director of the National Library of Thailand (who had become a close friend), and Ibu Mastini Hardjoprakaso, Head of the National Library of Indonesia and doyen of the Asean library community, a friend of many years. Joining us was Kalpana Dasgupta, Director of the National Library of India.
Lenin Library. The roads in downtown Moscow were jammed packed with vehicles, people and tanks: a most unusual phenomenon. In all of our earlier trips to town, roads had been clear and there were none of the horrendous traffic jams so often encountered in crowded Asian cities. Finally, after going up and down different roads we were told that we had to continue on foot, and by way of the underground metro. With the guides’ help, we managed to emerge safe and sound, after much jostling among massive crowds of people, into a park, to face rain and cold, in a tedious trudge towards the Conference Centre.
There were many rumours. Gorbachev was abroad; he was in his dacha in the Crimea; he was under house arrest; he was ill, or worse; his fate was unknown. The delegates gathered in uncertain little groups. At the Conference Centre, long queues formed in front of the two public telephone kiosks, as people desperately tried to contact friends, embassies, or call home. Apart from the uncertainty however, we felt ourselves to be in no danger. So, at 10 a.m. or so, we took the bus with our guide for our 11 a.m. appointment at the Lenin Library. For me, it was an unforgettable experience. Unbelievably, after years of reading about this famous Library, to be able at last to ascend its broad marble staircase, with beautiful decorative lamps on either side, to the catalogue hall, to enter the 130-year- old Library whose millions of volumes have educated savants from all over Europe, and indeed, the world. I presented Madame Bagrova with my offerings to her Library: the latest book on Malaysia, Malaysia: Heart of Southeast Asia, and my own Library’s publication by an eminent historian from our Faculty of Arts, Professor Khoo Kay Kim, Malay Papers and Periodicals as Historical Sources. I was satisfied to know that they too will join sister volumes on those august shelves.
It was not a good time to visit. The staff were not sure what to do with us, but eventually the Library’s Asian languages expert was located and he kindly gave us a short tour. We were unable to see the stacks, but we managed a walk around the old building. At the vast card catalogue hall, our librarian-guide explained that foreign-language materials were fully catalogued with author and title details recorded in the original script; transliterated and again translated into Russian: a triple task that few libraries would attempt. We were very impressed.
At noon, we decided that we should return to the Conference Centre in order to make our way to the Rossiya Hotel for the Official Opening Ceremony, scheduled for 2 p.m. We were still unworried. His Excellency the Indonesian Ambassador however, had earlier sent the embassy car to fetch Ibu Mastini away. We soon realized why this was necessary. Taxis, when hailed, refused to stop for us. Finally, our kind librarian-guide, in quiet desperation, tried flagging down private cars and vans. Eventually, one driver was good enough to stop for us and agreed to drive us back to the Centre for 10 roubles. At our quick acquiescence, he asked for 15 roubles, and again we readily agreed.
Thus began my longest journey in Moscow.
An Anxious Journey. With my non-existent knowledge of Moscow’s geography, I had not realized that the straightest way from the Lenin Library to the Conference Centre went past the Russian Federation Council of Ministers building, in which Russian President Yeltsin was ensconced, and from where he was appealing to the Russian people to take to the streets, to go on strike, and to use people power to topple the military junta. The junta had despatched tanks to surround the building: at that point in time, machine guns were pointing towards the building, threatening those within. Just a couple of days later, they were to point outwards, protecting the building and those within, especially Yeltsin.
The traffic jam was unbelievable. We were stopped for long minutes, not knowing what was causing the problem. As we got close to the Russian Federation building, we saw some forty to fifty tanks packed close together. Several rather large Russian ladies, with paper placards pinned to their chest, had courageously spread themselves against the tanks, wailing and calling out their distress. I was very moved. For the first time, I felt the meaning of a revolution. As we passed the building, the driver pointed at it and threw a quick word at us: ‘Yeltsin!’ The driver locked us in. He had to constantly change lanes, weaving in and out of the tanks to get through. I became very anxious: we were having great difficulty getting anywhere; we spoke no Russian; we did not know the way. What would become of us should he decide, quite understandably, that he had had enough, and asked us to get out?
Fortunately, he was more responsible than I had feared, and fetched us finally to the steps of the Hotel International, right against the familiar statue of Mercury, that told us we had arrived. I was so relieved that I gave him 30 roubles (much to his gratitude and ours)! That first day of the coup was riddled with anxiety and uncertainty. A small group of us gathered in the room of one of the interpreters, another good friend, Jesús Lau, as his room had a TV set. CNN news appeared to be grimmer than we felt the reality to be. It was also a bit weird: to see the tanks amassed on the screen, and to know that we had just ploughed through them, and now to be able to poke one’s head out of the window and watch one’s environment ‘live’ on TV.
The Opening Ceremony. There was no official announcement, but from what we could learn, the Opening Ceremony was on. Although IFLA had begun on 18 August, the Opening Ceremony was held on 19 August. We walked through the park behind our guides and struggled through massive crowds (who were silently reading defiant notices put up by young resisters to the junta) in the underground tunnels. We anxiously looked out for each other so that no one was left behind, and finally reached the Rossiya.
Mr Nikolai Gubenko, Minister for Culture of the USSR and Chairman of IFLA 1991, an urbane, soft-spoken person altogether a man of many talents, to our admiration opened the Conference. His speech was understandably shorter than the planned original which was rumoured to be in fulsome praise of perestroika; but it was short and dignified. Apparently, he resigned later, but after the unsuccessful putsch was laid to rest, he was reinstalled.
‘Romeo and Juliet’. The Opening Ceremony was to be followed by a reception and a ballet performance, ‘Romeo and Juliet’, appropriately Sergei Prokofiev’s famous ballet based on William Shakespeare’s play. The Bolshoi was on tour. Another ballet corps, the Moscow Classical did us the honours. The auditorium however, had been taken over for a long drawn-out press conference and the ballet was delayed by over 2 hours. Many of us decided to stay on and wait it out; we did not regret it. The young dancers danced their hearts out, some say with tears in their eyes; and we in standing ovations applauded their spirited and talented performance. It was well past 11 p.m. when it was finished; the bus could not be located so again we took to public transport to return to our hostel.
Days Two and Three
The second day was no less uncertain. Talk of splits within the military fuelled fears of civil war. By then, participants had spent hours in front of their television sets. TV Moscow was quite serene, screening endless footage of football matches, ballet and light music! CNN however, available throughout, brought home to many the gravity of the situation. Invited delegates and paper presenters whose flights had been confirmed by Aeroflot, became ‘unconfirmed’ as the entire Aeroflot fleet had been commandeered by the authorities, whoever they were! The closure of all domestic airports, and the Moscow International Airport for a day (or was it only a few hours?) added to the rumours, and the uncertainty made people jittery. After President Bush’s open support for Gorbachev, many of the American participants felt that they should vacate a place that might be potentially uncomfortable for them. All of us by then had spent much time trudging in rain, wind and cold, getting to various receptions and events. To add to the discomfort, many were falling victim to coughs, colds, stomach disorders and other ailments.
The Malaysians: Mariam, Adeline and I, stayed in contact with each other and with the Malaysian Embassy, and it was a relief to hear their friendly voices. Their concerned voices urged us to balik, return to Malaysia, as they could not even get to the Conference Centre, let alone protect us. We considered their advice, but we decided to stay on as long as possible. To prepare for an IFLA WLIC, the host nation goes through much trouble and undertakes a great deal of preparation. The Conference catered to some 2,000 persons, quite a few had to be fetched from, and sent back to, airports. A full programme of cultural activities and library receptions; a diverse range of meetings and conference tours had to be arranged. Hundreds of librarian volunteers who could speak a variety of languages from all over the Soviet Union had to be mobilized. To realize all these activities, among undertaking many other physical and financial preparations, was an incredible achievement. Our Russian hosts had taken more than 2 years to prepare for the IFLA 1991 conference. We felt their sadness in seeing the sessions getting frayed at the edges as audiences became thinner and thinner at sessions, and often dwindled to nothing. Delegates were watching TV, waiting at the telephones; waiting for their embassy personnel to contact them, or preparing to leave. We felt that Malaysian delegates must not be seen to decamp at the slightest sign of trouble. In the event, Adeline completed all her assignments; Mariam and I stayed until the end of the Conference.
The Kremlin Reception
Those of us who decided to stay on will never forget the night of Wednesday, the 21st of August. Towards the afternoon, as I straggled out of a session, we heard the extraordinary news that the coup was over – Gorbachev was back! The news was amazingly uplifting –smiles replaced anxious frowns, lilting voices and laughter replaced whispered tones and rumours of ill tidings. We rode in a state of euphoria to the Kremlin Banquet Hall to an immense reception for over 1,000 people. That night, vodka, red and white wine were drunk in less than moderation. Hundreds of Russian colleagues from libraries all over the Soviet Union were there, many in colourful ethnic costumes. To the gay abandon of what felt like strong rhythmic gypsy music, sung and played, we joined hands, stomped our feet and danced, clapped and sang, and hugged each other in happiness for the Russian people. The phrase, ‘to the soul of Russia!’ floated in the air, and dispelled fears that Russia would be pulled back again to another age of isolationism.
When we left at about 10.30 p.m. we witnessed tanks begin pulling out of the city. This was the scene for the next day or so. Suddenly they did not seem so threatening after all. The grim militaire of a day or so ago were seen as they were, ordinary soldiers, some of them as Mariam observed, were mere boys–’kesiannya’ she said, in sympathy at their plight. It was a most unusual feeling.
The statement made by IFLA President Dr. Hans-Peter Geh at the Kremlin reception described the situation for all of us:
Events of the past several days have made it impossible for the 57th IFLA Council and General Conference to proceed normally. Uncertainties about personal security, limitations on access to information, and disruptions of transportation to and from the conference site have become major obstacles to the work of IFLA in Moscow and have prompted early departure of a number of participants. We regret that despite the prodigious efforts of our Soviet colleagues to host a splendid conference, the current situation has forced us to modify the remaining conference schedule [IFLA Express, No. 6, p. 1].
We finished the Conference as best we could. Entire delegations had left. Sessions were a little ragged, at times lacking chairpersons, translators, speakers or audience. Many cancelled their post-conference tours. For lack of tourist support, I was forced to cancel my own long-desired tour plans: either a longer tour to Leningrad (now St Petersburg), or a short trip to the ancient cities of Samarkand and Bokhara at the far-flung end of Russian Uzbekhistan.4 Some groups, like the Asia and Oceania section, managed their meetings; others remained strongly to the end. I understand that the Art Librarians attended sessions in full numbers; the University Librarians held their dinner, though it was interrupted by the curfew; while the Women’s Interests session had an unexpectedly high number of attendees and was even able to forge ahead with the programme for IFLA 1992 at Delhi and at Barcelona in 1993. I was very pleased that the IFLA Map, Spatial Data and Conservation Workshop at my own Library5 was fully reported and all the resolutions adopted.6
The Closing Ceremony.It was so good to see the Closing Ceremony on 24 August being held in front of a packed audience. At the reception, though only white wine and mineral water were served, there was enough good cheer, and we were grateful that our Russian colleagues had not planned entirely in vain for the Moscow Congress.
Winds of Change. During that week I was to visit the Lenin Library once more, in an evening reception on Thursday, 22 August. Traditional dances and music set a happy mood. But the whiffs of a new order were already weaving into the tone of the evening, and an odd sense of times past prevented my giving myself up to the gay abandon that had consumed us at the Kremlin. I posed with my good friend Esther7 next to the bust of Lenin, book in hand, looking academic and philosophical, presiding over the Library’s main reading hall. His other busts and statues were being removed elsewhere, and we were not sure for how long a man revered for over 70 years would now remain. Winds of change were being ushered in;8 my thoughts turned inevitably to Gorky and Lenin, activists and protagonists in a more successful revolution, and fleeting memories of what the Russian people had endured these last many years. Suddenly I felt very tired. I was glad to be going home.
Source: Based on Khoo Siew Mun, ‘IFLA Moscow 1991: a personal perspective’, in Kekal Abadi [quarterly bulletin of the Library, University of Malaya], Volume 10 No. 3 (September 1991), pp. 14-20. Sections reprinted with permission.
1The Seminar was held under the benevolent but watchful guidance and supervision of Mr Winston Roberts, IFLA’s Coordinator for Professional Activities; he was assisted by Marta Terry of the National Library of Cuba.
2I learned from sad experience that while beef, caviar and vodka were excellent, fish was neither fresh nor well-preserved. After a dinner out on the town I became extremely ill while still travelling back to our hostel on the metro. But for the kind help of Jesús Lau and Lina Ernesta, who at that time hardly knew me, and who fetched me back to our hostel in a taxi, I should have been in serious trouble.
Jesús Lau: Senior Researcher, Instituto Tecnológico de Durango, Centro de Graduados e Investigación, Mexico. Lina Ernesta: Directrice Adjointe, Bibliothèque Nationale des Seychelles.
3Theosophilus Mlaki, Director, Commission for Science & Technology, National Central Library, Tanzania.
4In September 1991, I returned to the USSR to visit Tashkent, Bokhara and Samarkand. Kedah (a northern state in Malaysia), had just established cultural and commercial ties with Uzbekistan, and Aeroflot was making its inaugural flights between Kuala Lumpur and Tashkent. I took advantage of these fortuitous events to fulfil a dream.
5 IFLA Workshop on Maps and Spatial Data and Conservation, held at the Library, University of Malaya, Kuala Lumpur, 17-21 June 1991. Report of the Workshop by Thami Munisah Mohd. Yusoff in Kekal Abadi, Vol. 10 No. 2 (June 1991), pp. 29-30.
6See IFLA Express No. 4, and report by Hope E. Clements at Closing Ceremony.
7Esther Batiri-Williams, University Librarian at the University of the South Pacific, Fiji.
8A succint description of the coup and its aftermath is given by Margolis:
‘August 1991: Coup by Communist hard-liners fails after mass protests led by Russian President Boris Yeltsin.
December 1991: His authority fatally undermined, Gorbachev resigns.
Soviet Union officially dissolved’.
[Eric S. Margolis, ‘Sorry, Gorbachev didn’t get it in writing’, The Sun [Daily], 18 December 2017, page 10.]
In the autumn of 2012, I returned to Moscow on a short visit, before proceeding to St Petersburg, incomparably beautiful and historic. Some things remained as I remembered them: the solid sameness of Moscow’s buildings like Moscow University, the extravagant grandeur of St Basil’s Cathedral, the Kremlin and the Red Square. But so much more had changed.
The splendid Rossiya is no more. Gone were the ubiquitous queues of Muscovites lining up for anything that was being offered. Gone too were the drably-clad pedestrians, clutching bottles or tins in their hands. Moscow’s water is not potable; in 1991, there were stands of pipes dispensing drinking water freely to all. In 1991, the GUM department store on the Red Square sold little else besides dreary-looking fruit compotes. In 2012, I only could afford to have an orange juice, as prices of everything were astronomically high. International brands, reputedly more than a thousand, were all in evidence. Streets like the Tverskaya were packed with shoppers and well-dressed ladies obviously well above the poverty line. Most wonderful of all, churches that only saw the occasional surreptitious worshipper were open, and everywhere, crowds worshipped fervently and openly. From within, wonderfully sonorous singing and the music of organs often could be heard.
Moscow, and indeed Russia, has not only survived one of the biggest crackups in modern history, it has achieved a new economic strength that many countries would wish to achieve. Something had been lost in the breakup of the Soviet Union; but then a lot more has been achieved. It is from this half-empty, half-full cup perspective that we must view the Moscow IFLA WLIC. It is indeed true that in 1991, one could be forgiven for evaluating the 57th Congress to be somewhat of a disaster. With the wisdom of hindsight, however, we take a different perspective.
Like the proverbial phoenix, Russia has risen from the bitter ashes of 1991 to become the strong and resilient nation that it is today. In its train, a clutch of former satellites are developing vibrant economies of their own. Moscow 1991 is a reminder that IFLA shares with host countries different shades of their history; it marks the resilience of IFLA WLIC as an institution, and highlights the enduring nature of the profession. Times change, nations recover, and rise to new heights of achievement. Malaysia is currently undergoing massive fundamental changes that are bringing new hopes for the people. We look forward to a successful IFLA WLIC 2018 in these hopeful times for the Malaysian nation.
Oleh: Mazmin Mat Akhir, (Ketua Pustakawan, UniMAP) & Azni Yantee Abdul Raoh, (Pustakawan Kanan, UniMAP)
Perpustakaan Tuanku Syed Faizuddin Putra (PTSFP) dengan kerjasama Bank Rakyat telah menganjurkan Nuri @ the Library pada 21 April 2019 bertempat di Perpustakaan Universiti Malaysia Perlis (UniMAP). Program ini disertai oleh lebih 150 orang anak-anak daripada 12 buah sekolah rendah di Negeri Perlis. Pelbagai program berorientasikan STREAM dijalankan meliputi Pertandingan Lego Robotik di MCMC- UniMAP Makerspace, Scavenger Hunt – Innovation Trail, Ekspresi Dirimu di Zon Bising dan 1001 Cerita bertempat di Industrial Engagement Zone (In-de-Zone). Program tajaan sepenuhnya Bank Kerjasama Rakyat Malaysia dan Yayasan Bank Rakyat ini diadakan pada jam 6.30 petang sehingga 10.30 malam bagi menyediakan pengalaman berbeza menggunakan perpustakaan untuk anak-anak sekolah.
Pelbagai pertandingan dan program sempena NURI @ the Library telah dijayakan oleh tiga orang fasilitator jemputan iaitu Prof Madya Dr. Latifah Munirah Kamarudin, Pensyarah di Pusat Pengajian Kejuruteraan Komputer dan Perhubungan, Dr Norshah Aizat Shuaib, Pensyarah di Fakulti Teknologi Kejuruteraan, Puan Hasniah Hussain atau Mama Tok yang merupakan storyteller terkenal. Lebih 50 orang sukarelawan pelajar turut menyediakan khidmat sokongan dan bantuan kepada para peserta program. Pada majlis sama, 70 orang anak-anak yatim turut diraikan melalui program infotainment yang dikendalikan oleh warga PTSFP.