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Government of Jamaica


Government Librarians Ramp Up Training To Become “Cybrarians”

September 29, 2020

Government librarians are equipping themselves with the research and analytical skills to curate credible resources and create ready-to-go vetted information packages that will serve the needs of their online patrons.

This was the message of the speakers at the September 22 symposium of the Government Libraries Information Network of Jamaica (GLINJa) held under the theme, “E-Librarians: Strengthening Virtual Library Services in Jamaica and the Caribbean”. Most libraries have closed reading rooms and moved reference services online.

Coordinator, Government Libraries Information Network of Jamaica (GLINJa), Mrs Odean Cole Phoenix said librarians need to be research consultants and cybrarians who provide labour intensive knowledge services for customers. The network is expanding the training for librarians to adapt to working from home and extracting required information from metadata in online databases. She reported that a recent survey of GLINJa services conducted by the PIOJ showed that 72 per cent of respondents said that the service is excellent and 21 per cent good.

Regional Sales Manager, Caribbean, EBSCO Information Services, Mr Damien Satterthwaite supported the move, noting that librarians contribute to development by comprehensively evaluating the credibility of resources, such as articles and journals, before they are shared with academic and business researchers and students.

He urged the librarians to be gatekeepers by stating, “Use subject indexes that support precision in resources and scholarly analytics; focus on the criteria that are used to evaluate those resources before sharing them. Ask who are the publishers and what are the credentials of the editors? Are there repeated cases of plagiarism? Is the content pseudo-science or are there claims of false indexing?”

Keynote speaker, World Bank Senior Operations Manager, Social Sustainability Inclusion Global Practice, Mr Steffen Soulejman Janus, said that librarians can go further, “We are facilitators of solutions, we are not providers of documents or information resources, we are helping to solve deep rooted, sometimes complicated and difficult problems.”

Mr Janus said that librarians need to find ways to quickly create trustworthy knowledge resources, such as short videos, “You have to be very purposeful in your curation of information resources so that they meet the needs of your clients and partners. Develop an understanding of what kind of formats the information is packaged, as this contributes to the accessibility of the information. Become a resource to other countries around the world that can learn from Jamaica. Once you put your flag on the map and you can say that this is an area of expertise that we have developed over time.

The National Library of Jamaica is the focal point for the Jamaica Libraries and Information Network (JLIN) with a membership of seven library groups. Delivering remarks at the symposium, The National Librarian, Ms Beverly Lashley, said that the National Library had rolled out additional virtual services such as CXC information sessions for students. The pilots had proved popular, and additional sessions will be staged during National Library and Information Week later this year.

President of the Library and Information Association of Jamaica (LIAJA), Mr Mark Jeffrey Deans, said that they welcome the seminar, as it will assist government librarians to navigate the challenges to promote the adoption and adaptation to best practices to enhance services and operations.

President of the College Libraries Information Network (COLINET) Mr David Drysdale stated that their membership had been pushing for the automation of libraries for a few years, and many are not in a position to offer services in an e-format. He added that libraries needed to develop work-from-home policies and plans to ensure business continuity.

Now in its 40th year of existence, the GLINJa, with a membership of 50 libraries across the public sector, is the second largest library network after the Jamaica Library Service, which has 119 fixed locations.