The entries below constitute the International experience Portfolio. First a summary of each organisation is presented through the Study Visit report, and then the aspects I wish to highlight are presented.
Although I’m living as an expatriate in Singapore, which is its own cultural experience, one realizes you can experience culture on a number of levels. Each organisation we visited had their own unique culture and identity.
In the libraries this was expressed through the design of the various spaces, the emphasis of the collection and the staffing choices. At each organisation what was very striking was the way in which employees expressed their identity through the organisation of their desks. At Singapore Press Holdings for example the open plan office was filled to the brim with hundreds of indoor plants of all descriptions. There was even an aquarium on one desk. At Singapore Polytechnic, employees had used the desk lamps to hang a myriad of little figurines and toys and all attempts to create a truly open plan office were being thwarted by staff needs for privacy and their own space.
Libraries where the head librarian was ‘politically’ well connected or where the organisation head was vested in a thriving information community were better staffed, better resourced and had more vibrant, innovative and enthusiastic feel to them. That’s not to say that other libraries didn’t do an excellent job of managing their resources and putting library users first.
Instead of writing this chronologically, I’ve divided the experience into the areas that I found most interesting in the visit and where there were noticable differences between the libraries:
* Reference Services
* Physical Environment
In conclusion the trip was extremely valuable both from a librarianship and a cultural point of view.