It is with great pleasure and anticipation that I assume the editorship of World Libraries. Thanks are due to Dr. William V. Jackson for his work as editor of vol. 9, no. 1 and as associate editor prior to that. Dr. Jackson kept the journal going at a difficult time in its history, and produced an excellent issue celebrating the opening of the Bibliothèque Nationale de France, the French National Library. During his tenure as editor, Dr. Jackson continued his work as advisor in El Salvador and Guatemala. Dr. Jackson also contributed an essay on “Academic Libraries in Colombia” to Libraries: Global Reach — Local Touch, reviewed in this issue, on p. 52.
Volume 9, no. 2 includes three articles from three different continents, yet struggling with a similar theme: how to provide the best service in the context in which the library finds itself. The first, “Subject Specialisation at the University of Botswana Library and the Rand Afrikaans University Library,” by Edwin Qobose, compares how two different academic libraries have approached the adaptation to a specialist structure over the traditional hierarchical organization, based on generalist librarians. Qobose provides some remarkable findings with regard to the duties of these subject specialists which are very much in accord with the observations of colleagues in other academic libraries throughout the world.
But it is the two other articles that provide some interesting comparisons, despite not being themselves comparative in intent as Qobose’s article is. Both articles treat the role of the public library in rural areas, one in Thailand (Cheunwattana and Fitzgibbons), the other one in Norway (Koren). Cheunwattana and Fitzgibbons report on the background to the first author’s dissertation research, then in progress. They describe a challenging goal, the mobilization of the rural population of Thailand, hampered by the lack of available resources in the form of widespread publication, adequate library infrastructure and favorable attitudes on the part of the local population and the librarians themselves. The article “Knowledge Mobilization in Rural Regions” describes a different approach to a similar goal, in which the public library is seen as an actor in partnership with other local agencies, a theme that the author has developed further in a subsequent presentation.