World Libraries Editorial: Creativity in Challenging Times — Christopher Stewart

Recently, while walking through the wonderfully diverse neighborhood of Leith in Edinburgh, Scotland, I passed in the span of only a few blocks two advertisements for the city’s public libraries, one a large poster, the other a kiosk. I was reminded as I often am in my travels of the vital presence of libraries in communities across the globe. The current global economic environment has presented many challenges for libraries, but also opportunities to re–affirm our indispensible value to the communities we serve. This issue of World Libraries features four articles that describe ways in which libraries of different types are innovating to improve access to their collections, services, and programs in changing times and — as is often the case with libraries in both developed and developing countries — challenging circumstances.

We begin this issue with a tribute to a remarkable man, Maurice Line. David Russon chronicles Line’s career, notably his work at the British Library, and his founding and leadership of IFLA’s Universal Availability of Publications programme. Line was deeply committed to international cooperation among libraries. His legacy continues today through the services of the IFLA Document Delivery and Interlending Section.

Jennifer Papin–Ramcharan and Richard Dawe’s “Can Benevolence and Technology Bridge the Digital Divide Between Developing Countries’ Libraries?” outlines the challenges academic research libraries in developing nations face in acquiring journals and databases, particularly those covering science and technology. They remind us that a lack of access to current scientific literature affects research and scholarship in developing nations. To that end, they present some very intriguing funding models aimed at addressing these inequities.

Mayank Trivedi and Vishna Suthar’s article on using open broadcasting technologies as tools for library education and outreach discusses their rapidly evolving use in creating robust mobile learning environments. Their research provides the reader with a range of examples of how these technologies are currently being used to establish new connections with learners.

In his article, “Classification of Library Documents by Using the Web,” Badan Barman addresses challenges faced by libraries that cannot afford traditional methods for procuring Dewey Decimal Classification numbers in India and other developing countries. The author analyzes a number of free Web–based tools and techniques for acquiring class numbers.

Susan Russell and Jie Huang’s offer a model for building social capital that rural libraries can use to improve access to their programs and services. In their research, the authors provide numerous examples of successful outreach, advocacy, and marketing strategies used by libraries serving rural populations from Norway to Uganda.

Finally, this issue marks a return of our book review section. Steven Szegedi reviews The Frugal Librarian: Thriving in Tough Economic Times, a new compilation of essays on cost saving strategies for a range of library processes. Yijun Gao reviews Michael J. Quinn’s newly revised Ethics for the Information Age. We thank Mr. Szegedi and Dr. Gao for their contributions.

About the author

Christopher Stewart is an assistant professor in the Graduate School of Library and Information Science at Dominican University.
E–mail: cstewart [at] dom [dot] edu

© 2012 Christopher Stewart.