iWorld Looks to Southeast Asia

by Aimee Buchholz and Kara Fox, MLIS Day

At a recent iWorld meeting (the iSchool’s student group looking at international information issues) we discussed the library and information world of Cambodia. We took a look at Margaret A. Bywater’s 1998 IFLA article, Libraries in Cambodia: Rebuilding a Past and a Future, in which she briefly discusses the history and four major libraries of Cambodia. From the 1863 period as a French colony until independence in 1954, to the subsequent period of rapid development, and then the 1975–1979 genocide, the library and information world in Cambodia has been greatly affected by the parallel social, political, and economic world. What do libraries look like in a country without a culture of reading, as Bywater points out, no copyright law, no funding for libraries, and a difficult history altogether?

The four major libraries in Cambodia include the National Library of Cambodia, the Royal University of Phnom Penh Library, the Buddhist Institute Library, and the House of Assembly Library. A number of small libraries have also been starting up. We discussed the issue of collection development in a country that has very little funding for libraries. As of this article’s publication date, all collection development came from donations. The author’s personal guideline is that “if a book is out of date and irrelevant in Australia, the USA or wherever, it is unlikely that it will be of use in a developing country, even one where resources are limited. This advice also applies to old computers and similar equipment.”

This is just a tiny slice of the kinds of discussions you could get in on at the next iWorld meeting!

About every two weeks iWorld meets to discuss the library and information world of a particular country or region, as well as to share stories, ideas, and news about other international information issues. Subscribe to the list if interested!


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Page last updated: April 18, 2006