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ASDAL Taskforce on International Cooperation

This Taskforce was set up at the 1995 Newbold meeting. The following were elected members of this group: Keith Clouten (chair), Gilbert Abella (LSU), Margaret Adeogun (University of East Africa), Clinton Wahlen (Zaokski Seminary), and Arthur Winzenried (Lilydale Adventist Academy).

It is a challenge to conduct timely communication and interchange of ideas with members on four continents, even though all five members have e-mail addresses that are operable at least some of the time. The committee did, however, get off to an early start last August and developed a fairly optimistic agenda. Early along in the discussion, we decided to conduct a survey of all post-secondary institutional libraries outside of North America. The purposes of the survey were three-fold:

  1. To get a statistical picture of these libraries.
  2. To discover the extent of their automation and use of computers.
  3. To ascertain their most critical needs, and the ways in which ASDAL could help them.

In late November 1995, survey forms were mailed to 61 SDA college and university libraries outside North America. By early March 1996, 30 completed forms were received at Andrews University, reflecting a return rate of 50 percent. These 30 responses formed the basis for the report and analysis which follows. The sample included institutions on all continents except North America. Fifteen schools (half the sample) used English only as the language of instruction, three carried instruction in English and one other languages, and twelve used a language other than English for all instruction. A total of ten different languages of instruction were represented in the responding schools.

In size, the institutions ranged from small schools or seminaries with less than 50 post-secondary students to universities with enrollments of around 3,000 students. Given this diversity of size, it was decided to divide the respondents into two groups: institutions with post-secondary enrollments of less than 200 FTE students (Group A), and institutions having 200 or more FTE students (Group B). This resulted in 14 responses in the first, and 16 in the second. In Group A, only 2 of 14 institutions had graduate programs, while 12 of 16 in Group B operated graduate programs. The decision to split the sample was made with the assumption that the smaller institutional libraries would have different levels of automation and different needs than the larger one, which proved to be the case.

The geographical breakdown of the sample was as follows.

Table 1. Geographical Distribution

 GEOGRAPHIC AREA  Group A (Small)  Group B (Large)
 Africa  2
 Asia  8
 Australasia  0
 Central America  0
 Europe  4
 South America  0
 Totals  14 16 

Size of Library Staff

The first library-related question on the survey asked about staffing. (See Table 2 below.) In Group A, five libraries (36%) reported having a professional librarian in charge, while in Group B, all the libraries had qualified librarians, the average number being 2.5 FTE. Average total staff size for the Group A schools was 2.8 FTE, compared with an average of 7.0 FTE for Group B institutions.

Table 2. Library Staff

 CATEGORY  Number of Schools with Professional Librarians  Number of Schools with Para-Professionals  Number of Schools with Clerical Staff
Group A (small schools) 5 (36%) 11 (79%) 9 (64%)
Group B (larger schools) 16 (100%) 12 (75%) 15 (94%)

Collection Size and Nature

Group A schools reported print collections ranging between 1,500 volumes to almost 40,000 volumes. Half of them had collections of more than 20,000 volumes, and reported adding more than 1,000 volumes within the preceding year. The number of paid periodicals subscriptions ranged from a low of 6 to a high of 263, with a mean of 52 titles.

Group B institutions had print collections ranging from less than 20,000 volumes to approximately 150,000. Half of them reported collections between 30,000 and 50,000 volumes, and three gave figures of 100,000 volumes or more. One half reported adding between 1,000 and 4,000 volumes during the preceding year. Number of paid periodical subscriptions ranged from 62 to 750 titles, with the mean being 275 subscriptions.

The libraries were asked to indicate whether or not they provided any of four categories of non-print resources, and Table 3 reveals the responses.

Table 3. Non-Print Resources

CATEGORY  Audio-Visual MaterialsCD-ROM’s 

Network Access to Local/Regional Databases

Access to Internet 
Group A YES–11YES–8YES–4YES–4
Group BYES–14YES–11YES–6**YES–6**
** Two of these schools reported imminent network and Internet access.

Use of Computers

Question 8 asked whether the institution had a campus computer network. Here the results were almost identical for both Groups of institutions. 9 of 29 schools responding to this question said that their institutions had campus networks.

Question 9 asked if computers were used in the library, and here the results were quite different for the two groups. Of the 14 Group A institutions, 8 (57%) used computers, while 15 (96%) of Group B institutions used computers in the library.

A follow-up question asked how computers were used in their libraries. Twenty-one schools responded to this question, with the results shown in Table 4.

Table 4. Use of Computers

Word ProcessingYES–4
Online CatalogYES–3
Integrated Library SystemYES–1
Network AccessYES–2

**Two of these said that Network Access was imminent

The seven schools which said they did not have computers in their libraries were asked why they were not using them. All seven answered the question, as well as four schools which did in fact use computers to some extent in their libraries. In every case, lack of funds was given as a reason why computers were not in library use. Other reasons given are shown below:

Reasons  No of schools
Lack of Funds12 (100%)
Lack of Interest0
Lack of Technical Knowledge2
Lack of Maintenance Support3
Lack of Equipment Suppliers4
Lack of Training in Computer Use2

Library Needs

The next portion of the survey asked respondents to identify their library needs in order of magnitude. Six possible answers were suggested on the form, with space for an “Other” response. Here the answers from the small schools (Group A) and the larger schools (Group B) were very similar. The question asked respondents to number their needs in order of importance, and in the analysis, the answers were weighted as follows, then adjusted to a percentage:

  1. 3 points
  2. 2.5 points
  3. 2 points
  4. 1.5 points
  5. 1 point
  6. 0.5 point

The following Table 5 summarizes the results of this question.

Table 5. Needs of Libraries

More Staff16.0%21.0%19.0%
Money for Materials35.0%23.0%28.0%
More Space15.0%11.0%13.0%
Better Space8.0%12.0%10.0%
Connection to Internet7.0%11.0%9.5%

The survey results show that the perception of needs varies considerably among the responding libraries. It is significant, though, that both small libraries and large libraries present their three greatest needs in same order:

  1. Need for money for library materials
  2. Need for computers and automation
  3. Need for more staff

The choices do not present any surprises. Indeed, many directors of North American college and university libraries might very well mark their needs in the same way.

How Can ASDAL Help?

The final question sought opinions on how ASDAL might help overseas libraries? Again the respondents were asked to number their answers in order of importance to them, and again a system of weighting was given to the answers similar to the previous section. This time the viewpoint of the small schools differed markedly from that of the larger institutions, as the following table illustrates:

Table 6. How ASDAL Could Help

Help with Selecting Library Materials12.5%7.0%9.0%
Help with Acquiring Library Materials8.75%12.0%10.5%
Help with Cataloging Library Materials8.75%6.0%7.0%
Coordinate Sending of Duplicate Lists12.0%10.0%10.5%
Site Consultation Visit7.0%6.0%6.5%
Development of Minimum Standards10.0%8.0%8.5%
Help with Acquiring Computers 14.0%9.0%11.0%
Regional Seminars for Library Staff9.5%10.0%10.0%
Sharing Statistics of all SDA Libraries2.0%4.0%3.5%
Publication of International Newsletter5.0%3.0%3.5%
Help with Interlibrary Loan1.5%5.0%3.5%
SDA Consortium for Electronic Resources6.0%12.0%10.0%
Document Delivery of Periodical Articles3.0%9.0%6.5%

If the table shows anything at all, it is that there is no clear opinion among overseas librarians as to how ASDAL might best assist them. There may be several reasons for this. Most of the respondents to the survey are not members of ASDAL and presumably do not have a clear idea of ASDAL’s mission, goals, and activities. In some areas, ASDAL may be perceived as having more influence than it does in directing the church’s decisions and the flow of funds.

The survey results also show that the two groups have differing perceptions of how ASDAL might assist them. Among the small schools help is needed in these areas:

  1. Help in acquiring computers.
  2. Help with selection of library materials.
  3. Coordination in the circulation of duplicate lists.

The larger schools identified these areas for ASDAL assistance:

  1. Help with the acquisition of library materials.
  2. SDA consortium for sharing of electronic resources.
  3. Coordination in the circulation of duplicate lists.
  4. Regional seminars for training library staff.

Interestingly, neither group saw very much value in a communication tool such as a newsletter. This perception may reflect problems with slow and unreliable mail systems, the use of languages other than English in several countries, and to some degree, a lack of understanding about the potential value of a communication tool for sharing information and ideas, providing comparative statistics, and creating a sense of community and belonging.

We decided to profile the eleven libraries which gave support (either first, second, or third choice) to the SDA electronic consortium concept. Here are the results:

 Small institutions (from Group A) 3
 Large institutions (from Group B) 8
Geographical location:  
  Asia 4
  Europe 3
  South America 2
  Africa 1
  Australasia 1
 Have Library Internet Access  
  Yes 5
  No 6
 Have Campus Computer Network  
  Yes 3
  No 8

Additional Comments

Space was left for comments at the end of the questionnaire. Several expressed appreciation for the survey, and two expressed interest in seeing the results. A number wrote comments which underlined their need for funds.

“— is very willing to computerize the library in order to have an easy and fastest access to the materials for the immediate needs of the user. In fact that is an old dream of —- library to be materialized but we lack funds and equipment. That is why we are left behind when we talk about modern technology in the library.”

“We do need computers for our library but the financial situation is very awesome so that we cannot afford. Along with it would like to attend the seminars or conferences but cannot do that because of lack of funds.”

“An annual compilation of selected data enabling the comparison with other Adventist tertiary institutional libraries would be valuable.”

“The long desire of automizing the library is always subdued by the inability of funds.”

“I greatly appreciate the SAIL program of ASDAL. Thanks a lot for all the good works ASDAL is doing.”

Conclusions and Recommendations

A fifty percent response to the survey may not seem to be a high rate. However, we are dealing here with international institutions in more than fifty third-world countries, in which English is often not the language of instruction. The reality is that half of the institutions contacted felt that the survey was important enough for them to share their information and views. Many of the institutions that responded have significant and growing library collections and employ professional librarians in their operation. They are intensely interested in the future of their libraries, and see computers and electronic networking playing a potential role in that future.

At the 1995 Newbold conference, ASDAL embraced the entire Adventist world as its professional community. We consciously enlarged our mission, and I submit that we will never again be the same organization that we were before Newbold. This year we look to the development of electronic sharing and networking in an organized way for the first time. Somehow, as we get involved in the details of our library futures, we must keep our sights and our interest on the global Adventist community.

This report comes with these observations and recommendations:

  1. We can support the cause of Seventh-day Adventist libraries worldwide by developing good communication channels with the General Conference and other appropriate levels of the church. In this time of paradigm change and transition, we have unparalleled opportunities to promote a future of global information sharing and development.
  2. There continues to be a need for the kind of library help services that we have traditionally given in varying degrees in the past. This includes producing duplicate lists of books and periodicals, interlibrary lending when appropriate, providing assistance with acquisition of materials, preparation of core lists of recommended reference resources, and so on.
  3. ASDAL might explore the possibilities of more interaction between librarians in North America and librarians in other continents. The forms of interaction might include regional library meetings or seminars, regional chapters of ASDAL, the exchange of library personnel between institutions, active promotion of “SDA-Librarian” as a global listserv for Adventist librarians, volunteer service such as SOS, and involvement of individual librarians in consultation visits to third world sites.

Keith Clouten

June 1996
Last Revised June 28, 2000

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