Open Journal Systems

Community Information Services in Malaysia: A Study of InformationSeeking Behavior of CommunityBased Organizations in the Klang Valley

Mumtaz Ali Anwar


Community Information Service (CIS) was introduced by public libraries in Western countries in response to an expressed need. Public library service in those countries was at that time almost universally available. There was, however, a need to focus on certain segments of the community which required problemoriented information and assistance.

Public library services in Southeast Asia are not developed to the level where an active role is being played in the area of Community Information Service. Before public libraries in this region, which do not cover most of the population, venture into CIS, it is appropriate to find out if there is a real need for such a service.

The informationseeking behaviour of CommunityBased Organizations (CBOs) in the Klang Valley (Malaysia) was studied using a mailed questionnaire. CBOs which participated in the survey are active in a variety of areas, but concentrate on problems faced by children and youth, health services, and physically and socially handicapped individuals.

They use a number of sources to obtain information, but the local public library is the leastused source. These CBOs would like the public library to provide information, maintain a directory of organizations, assist CBOs in creating greater awareness, and refer individuals to organizations.

It appears that organized CIS activity in public libraries in the Klang Valley is almost nonexistent. This paper proposes a programme of action which includes making a professional commitment to CIS, setting up a CIS Working Group to study information needs and develop a prototype CIS model, developing guidelines for setting up CIS, and designing a staff development programme.

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