Chapter 2 : Background of Library and Information Services in Thailand

2.1 Overview of Thailand

Thailand is located at the geographical heart of South-East Asia, covering an area of 513,115 square kilometres, about the same size as France. It has borders with Cambodia and Laos to the east and north, and Myanmar to the west. In the South, the Gulf of Thailand is created by the Andaman Sea, and is adjoined to Malaysia. Thailand's coastline is approximately 3,219 kilometres in length. Forest covers some 32 percent of the country's total area, while cultivation occupies about 40 percent. The topography can be divided into four regions: the fertile Central Plains, nourished by the Chao Phraya River basin; the semi-arid northeast plateau, which rises some 300 metres above the central plain; the northern region of Thailand, the mountainous region and fertile valleys; and the southern peninsula, mostly covered by rain-forests and bordered by Malaysia.

Thailand's population is 64.9 million, as of March 2005. Bangkok is a capital city, located along the banks of the Chao Phraya River. The population in Bangkok is 9 million (as of March 2006). Buddhism is the dominant and national religion in Thailand, professed by 95 percent of Thais. Thai is the national language. English is widely studied in schools and universities as a second language while Chinese, Japanese and other languages, for example, German and French, are also taught.

Thailand is administered as a constitutional monarchy. His Majesty King Bhumibol is a reigning monarch and His Majesty acts as a supervisor or consultant to the Thai government via the three ruling bodies which include the legislative branch through the Parliament, the executive branch through the Cabinet headed by a Prime Minister, and the judicial branch through the courts.

Economics of Thailand is seen as the annual growth rate of the Thai economy is 3.8-4.3 percent while inflation is 4.0-4.4 percent (as of 2005). Major export products include computers, integrated circuits, garments, gems, jewellery and agricultural produce. Major trading partners are among the ASEAN countries, the USA, and the European Union. However, the country’s economic development as it moves towards industrialization has forced change on Thai society at a headlong pace. Problems arising from this include inadequate infrastructure, an overburdened metropolis in Bangkok, serious pollution and ecological deterioration, poor conditions for many workers, and widening gaps between urban and rural areas.

Education system of Thailand can be viewed from Thailand’s adult literacy rate stands at 93 percent (as of 2004), which is one of the highest in the Southeast Asia region. The high level of literacy is considered to be the result of the Thai government’s policy to provide free schooling and compulsory education until lower secondary level. In addition, private schools, which are dispersed throughout the country, are also promoted as an alternative to state provided education. The higher education system of Thailand has both government and colleges offering bachelor level courses in agriculture, archaeology, architecture, arts, business, administration, economics, education, engineering, humanities, law, medicine, and nursing, science, social and political science, and statistics. Master's degree courses and some doctoral programmes are also offered both at universities and other institutions. Apart from conventional universities, there are also two open universities.

2.2 Development of Library and Information Services and Thai NATIS

From literature reviews and from the interview survey with National Coordinating Centers, results showed the overall pictures of impact on libraries and information services from the national information policy. Referred to the year 1986 when the National Information Policy was first implemented in Thailand, it must be noted however that development of libraries and information service in Thailand has started long before the official announcement of the National Information Policy. Noted also that university libraries and some special libraries have progressed the most in terms of quality services and quantity of resources both library materials and financial support.

2.2.1 National Library

National Library of Thailand was opened in 1905 as Royal Libraries, and the libraries were opened to the public in 1916. The National Library celebrated a hundred year anniversary of service in 2006.

Since 1926 the National Library has been under the administration of Department of Fine Arts. National Library in 2007 has 17 branches in 5 regions. Also in 2007 the National Library was transferred from Ministry of Education to be under Ministry of Culture as a result of organizational change. The National Library has the following functions:

  • 1.to acquire, collect and preserve the intellectual property, knowledge, fine arts, and national culture in written forms, ancient documents and stone inscriptions, printed books, media and electronic media produce in Thailand and abroad
  • 2.to study, analyze and research in library and information sciences, and information technology in order that the National Library performs to keep up with international standards, as well as to provide professional training for staff and for other libraries
  • 3.to provide reading services to the public in order to have access to study, and to research for lifelong learning
  • 4.to be a national coordinating center of ThaiNATIS
  • 5.to be a national center of serials clearinghouse of Thailand and Southeast Asia Network, to be a national ISBN, ISSN, to be a national CIP and to act as a referral center of publications exchange
  • 6.to be a national bibliographic clearinghouse and to be a clearinghouse of United Nations Publications in Thailand
  • 7.to cooperate and collaborate with other institutions and agencies as by orders of the government

National Libraries provide service to the public on Mondays to Sundays from 9.00 a.m. to 19.30 p.m. and close on public holidays. Online public catalog searching service is open for public via Internet from which users can search for books, journal articles and stone inscriptions. Also the National Library provides an online request for ISSN, ISBN, CIP and Thai National Bibliography. The Library website collects lists of national libraries of the world, universities in Thailand, special libraries under the 6 subject areas of national coordinating centers under ThaiNATIS, online journals subscribed by the National Library, online newspapers, and publishers in Thailand,

Branches of National Library

The branch libraries of the National Library are operated by the Fine Arts Department through the regional offices in the provinces while the National Library in Bangkok is responsible for the acquisition and technical services on centralized basis.

  • 1.National library of the central region (4 libraries)
    • 1.1 Ladkrabang Chalerm Prakiat, Bangkok
    • 1.2 Inburi, Singburi
    • 1.3 Kanchanaburi Ratjamagala Pisek
    • 1.4 Supanburi Chalerm Prakiat
  • 2.National library of the northern region(2 libraries)
    • 2.1 Chiang Mai Ratjamagala Pisek
    • 2.2 Lampoon
  • 3.National library of the northeastern region(3libraries)
    • 3.1 Nakon Rajasima Chalerm Prakiat Rama 9
    • 3.2 Buriram
    • 3.3 Nakon panom Chalerm Prakiat Queen Sirikit
  • 4.National library of the eastern region(2 libraries)
    • 4.1Chonburi
    • 4.2 Chantaburi Ratjamagala Pisek
  • 5. National library of the southern region(6 libraries)
    • 5.1 Nakon Srithammarat
    • 5.2 Songkhla Kanchana Pisek
    • 5.3 Songkhla Chalerm Prakiat Queen Sirikit
    • 5.4 Songkhla Wat Don Rak
    • 5.5 Trang Chalerm Prakiat Queen Sirikit
    • 5.6 Phuket Wat Chareon Samanakit

Statistical data of the National Library in 2007 shows that a total number of Books is 2,348.454 volumes including special collections of rare books, theses and proved documents as well as ancient heritage of manuscripts. The main resources of the library are in the fields of social science and humanities, and there are only 68.000 volumes of science and technology publications. The National Library serves the average 1,000 visitors on weekdays and 3000 to 5000 visitors on the weekends. At present, there are 1500 seat for reading services from 3 buildings in Bangkok. The library staff in 2007 is 261 of which 164 are government officials and 97 are government employees.

In 2006, the National Library has been approved by the government to
implement the 4 Year Development Plan (2007-2011). The total budget for construction covers construction of new building, renovation of old buildings and redesign of service areas to accommodate modern ICT equipments, and the amount of expenditure is 1,084,437,000 baht. The National Library has started to relocate the materials and reading service areas, and construction has begun and services continue however as usual.

2.2.2 University libraries

Higher education in Thailand was first established in 1917 during the Reign of King Chulalongkorn, and Chulalongkorn University is the first university in Thailand. In 2007, Thailand has 78 public universities, 67 private universities, and 18 community colleges. University administration had changed a great deal over the last 40 years. The change however has benefited the library and information services in terms of partly centralized management. The management has enabled the sharing of resources nationwide. University library network has been able to provide Internet service from a university network (UNINET). And from this network, universities enjoy service from a national consortium of site licensed subscription to international databases and full-text e-journals as well as text books. A Commission on Higher Education is under Ministry of Education and has expanded the responsibility to cover broader range and styles of education.

Growth of university libraries has been much faster than the other types of libraries. It is interesting to examine ways that the progress of university libraries became materialized at the beginning, along with the strategic implementation of the ThaiNATIS and the national information policy framework, while other types of libraries remained relatively more traditional role.

University library cooperation

A Sub-committee on Library Development for Higher Education Institutions has pioneered Thai libraries to reach international standard services. Along with the national information policy and ThaiNATIS framework, Thai University Library Network was formed unofficially by Thai university librarians to cooperate and consolidate in order to share existing library resources including manpower towards establishing the network physically. University library network was started actually from a Provincial University Library Network (PULINET), and later a Thai Library Network (ThaiLIS) was formed by Commission on Higher Education. A national network of high speed Internet was set up and links 200 campuses to facilitate the searching for information from e-library, union catalog of 75 libraries with 15,000 e-books and digital collection of theses available for sharing. And, 75 libraries now provide access to the international databases such as IEEE explore, Proquest, H.W.Wilson, ACM Library, Lexis-Nexis and ScienceDirect as well as high impact factor e-journals. Such initiative has provided a standard service for university libraries throughout the country to have same information resources. A Commission of Higher Education funded three universities to develop local integrated library system in order to offer the alternative including Open Source Initiative for libraries to choose preferable technology created by Thai developers.

It must be noted the report from the 6th conference hosted by Thammasat University in 1987 on Academic Libraries and ThaiNATIS. The conference covered all agenda stated in the National Information Policy framework: introduction of the policy, direction of national telecommunications infrastructure and trends of new information and communications technologies, results of library and information services and databases, local content creation, and skills and competencies needs of library and information professionals in order to provide quality service in the new age. University libraries continued to explore and brought in computers and ICT innovations that have made Thai university libraries stand in a front line of library development in the country. Discussions have become materialized, and we can see from the following topics:

  • 1982 Sri Nakarindwirot University hosted the 1st conference at Bangsan, Chilburi to invite librarians from all universities to establish a university libraries network
  • 1983 Khon kaen University hosted the 2nd conference on university libraries and educational curriculum
  • 1984 Chiang Mai University hosted the 3rd conference on development of university library system
  • 1985 Sukothaithammathirat Open University hosted the 4th conference on the use of technology for university library development
  • 1986 Ramkamhaeng University hosted a 5th conference on university libraries of the next decade. The agenda were: university network model, a journal clearinghouse initiative, library cooperation, and marketing of library services
  • 1987 Thammasat University hosted a 6th conference on academic libraries and ThaiNATIS. The agenda were starting points for university libraries to join forces towards more strategic planning as national network
  • 1989 Mahidol University hosted 7th conference on strengthening university libraries. The agenda were: feedback of ThaiNATIS, university network design and implementation, Business and trade information network, GIS, the use of IT in libraries, drafting the action plan of university library cooperation, and fund raising techniques for libraries.
  • 1990 Chulalongkorn Univeristy hosted 8th conference on strategic information seeking. The agenda were: CD-ROM technology and online database services, online cataloging, control vocabulary, automatic indexing of law journals, information seeking behavior, and comparative bibliographies
  • 1991 Kasetsart University hosted 9th conference on information service in electronic age. The agenda were: development of computer systems, organization to be responsible for hosting the university network, commercial information providers, user satisfaction survey, application of microcomputers in circulation.
  • 1992 Prince of Songkla University at Pattani hosted 10th conference on development of library network to coordinate resources sharing. The agenda covered networking system development and human resources planning for library network, local databases created by university libraries, a use of PIN for journal indexing by CDS/ISIS, and managing the integrated image and text databases
  • 1993 National Institute on Development Administration hosted 11th conference on university libraries in the information technology age. The agenda were: library automation systems, information resource management, network system application, information technology standards
  • 1994 Suranaree Technology University hosted 12th conference on university libraries in 1994.
  • 1995 Naresuan University hosted 13th conference on library automation systems development. The agenda were: library staff development to handle library automation system,
  • 1996 KMIT Ladkrabang hosted 14th conference on library system reengineering.
  • 1997 Mahasarakam University hosted 15th conference on strategy towards university libraries’ excellence. The agenda were: quality assurance, library network for higher education development.
  • 1998 Chiang Mai University hosted 16th conference in Quality control for university libraries. The agenda were: quality control for higher education, university network development
  • 1999 Silpakorn University hosted 17th conference on library development plan in preparation for free university system. The agenda were: library business management, UNINET and libraries,
  • 2000 KMIT North Bangkok hosted 18th conference on university libraries in the millennium. The agenda were: economic crises and university library service, new IT and future libraries, copyright and e-commerce, social need of library service, Thai information for sale in Internet age
  • 2001 KMUTT –King Mongkut University of Technology Thaonburi hosted 19th conference on virtual librarian: paradigm shift to electronic resources
  • 2002 Ubolrajathani University hosted 20th conference on models of library cooperation of educational institutions in the educational reform age.
  • 2003 Prince of Songkla University at Hat Yai hosted the 21st conference on information, communication technology : research and cooperation network, innovation, and promotion of information services
  • 2004 Mahidol University hosted the 22nd conference on information technology: innovation and challenge of libraries in the 21st century
  • 2005 Mae Fah Luang University hosted the 23rd conference on strategic direction for libraries in knowledge-based society.
  • 2006 Walailak University hosted the 24th conference on transition from libraries to centers of learning.
  • 2007 Suranaree University of Technology hosted the 25th conference on standards of information services management. The agenda were the organizations which are responsible for library and information standards, KPI for library and information services, standards for information storage and retrieval, standards for quality control of information services .

2.2.3 Special libraries

Special libraries in Thailand were established first in 1887 which was the library
of Ministry of Education. Department of Science Services was created in 1935. Then a library of Ministry of Defense was founded in 1940, and the Bank of Thailand started its library and archive services in 1947. Later on, organizations and government offices realized the need for libraries to be in charge of systematical management of organization publications as well as to provide library services to the staff. There are about 150 libraries which 80 are government and private organizations and 70 are from academic. This statistic is approximated from data surveyed by Thai Library Association in 1999. Special libraries are divided by Thai Library Association into 8 groups:

  • 1.Government libraries
  • 2.State Enterprises
  • 3.Associations and societies
  • 4.Banks and financial institutions
  • 5.Research institutions
  • 6.Academic, universities and colleges
  • 7.International organizations and institutes
  • 8.Other libraries that do not belong to any of the above categories

A number of special libraries have undergone significant development in terms
of vision and mission to meet the change of organizations in the knowledge-based society. Some libraries have gained support from the parent organizations to modernize the resources and technology for a digital library movement. It is rather difficult to report a current status of special libraries as they consisted of various libraries under various organizations, both public and private. The professional activities as resulted from a performance of Special Libraries Group however have been outstanding. The activities were focused on new trends of knowledge management issues for libraries as well as new technology implementation. It must be noted that among the special libraries, science and technology libraries under Ministry of Science and Technology have been much developed and have received a large amount of budget from the government and from international donations.

Department of Science Services Library was established in 1935 under Ministry of Industry. Later the library became a Division under Department of Science Services in 1978, and became the Office of Library and Information Center in 2002. The library acts as a national coordinating center for science and technology. The budget allocated to the library has been in the average of 22,000,000 baht with the highly difference in 2005 when the library invested to implement full scale library automation. 2006 statistics of the library showed a total collection of 758,045 volumes of books, journals, theses, patents and standards, audio-visual materials, and 21 local bibliographic databases with a total of nearly 200,000 records. E-journal subscription has a total of 22 titles. Regarding the use of library, there were 59,210 visitors (public and staff) in 2006 and 181,645 visitors to library website (http://siweb.dss.go.th)

Thailand Institution of Scientific and Technological Research (TISTR) established the Thai National Documentation Center (TNDC) in 1964. From the initiative of the National Research Council, the government agreed that there was a need to improve research capability in applied sciences. And, the government decided to set up another science library in the first phase of the development plan. At the beginning, TNDC attempted to represent a coordinating center of science information by setting up a network of 26 science libraries to share resources. Unfortunately the mission did not meet the goal because some libraries did not have professionally trained librarians to handle the indexing and abstracting services as well as reference and interlibrary loans. Some libraries faced with government regulations that prevented possible disclosure and relocation of official documents. The need for science library still continued and the Science Association of Thailand joined with the National Research Council in attempting to seed funding from the United Nations and foreign donors. The plan was successful when the Thai government allocated a budget of 15 million baht for setting up TNDC and there was continuous support from the United Nations of approximately 294,000 US dollars for 7 years of operation cost. TNDC was the most advanced service among Thai libraries in the 60s, and continued the role as national and regional centers of specialized areas of applied sciences. At present, TNDC is operated by TISTR under Ministry of Science and Technology. In 2007, TISTR has planned to change TNDC style of service to be a science discovery center with the aim to provide knowledge service to the various interest of the public including young people and the business sector.

National Research Council of Thailand (NRCT) has played important role in setting up TNDC which later became a separate division and at present under Ministry of Science and Technology. In 2004, NRCT was transferred to operate independently and to report directly to the Prime Minister’s office. The mandate of NRCT has been known to overlook the research administration of the country. NRCT is in charge of collecting research results in the forms of final research reports from government funding and theses from all universities. NRCT is the largest depository library of research projects and Thai theses. There has been attempts to provide service to the public to have access to NRCT information from Internet. NRCT cooperates with 3 research funding agencies, Thailand Research Funds (TRF), National Science and Technology Development Agency (NSTDA), Health System Research Institute (HSRI) to incorporate multiple databases for a single search (www.thairesearch.in.th ) which has been available for the public to search for research projects of Thailand. The project has expanded to provide researchers’ information which are linked from the displayed search results.

National Science and Technology Development Agency (NSTDA) established the Technical Information Access Center (TIAC) in 1989. From a cooperation of USAID and Thai government on the Science and Technology Development Plan, TIAC was initiated to be the first fee-based but not for profit in Thailand. TIAC started from providing service of international online databases such as DIALOG, BRS Search and Lexis, and later on a document delivery service to full-text articles not available from Thailand was introduced. TIAC created the first Thai theses database from cooperation of all universities in Thailand. In 2004, TIAC was assigned by Ministry of Science and Technology to develop a web portal – STKC (www.stkc.go.th) to be a gateway of science and technology knowledge. STKC is the first web portal that incorporated web resources created by 10 departments under Ministry of Science and Technology. Resources in digital format are managed by using Dublin Core Metadata and full-text documents are available for downloading from the web. STKC provides knowledge in 6 modules: e-library, e-knowledge, e-learning, e-museum, e-service and e-forum.

It is interesting to note that special libraries in Thailand have changed a great deal in the development towards new lifestyle library. The Maruay library of the Stock Exchange of Thailand became very popular since 2000 when it started to provide library service with full automation and public access to computers and Internet together with bookstore and coffee shop in the library. Maruay Library continued to serve business information and expanded the service to reach the public users. The library became successful as a study place for users of all ages as it is located near to the sky train station and in the same area as Queen Sirikit Public Park and National Covention Center where national exhibitions and conferences were held regularly including the Thailand International Book Fair. Maruay Library by the Stock Exchange of Thailand has socially contributed enormous funds to support the Thai Library Association in setting up new office of TLA in 2004, and a continued support for TLA operation as well as building of TLA Khunying Maenmas Learning Center. Maruay Library initiative marked a new kind of special libraries for the public in Thailand. More branches of Maruay Library have been planned to open in the next few years, beginning in 2007 that the branch at Espalnade Shopping Center was launched and another one on the list is at Chulalongkorn University new Chamchuree Square.

Despite expectations that has been arisen regarding the possibility to develop and to improve library and information services in special libraries, namely the plan to remodel and to restructure the library of the National Parliament in order to function in cooperation with the National Library. The change of political situation has delayed the implementation with hope though to be able to continue library modernization in the future. There is however a number of special libraries that faced with difficult situation of chances to be closed or minimized in terms of status and financial support form parent organizations.

2.2.4 Public libraries

This part of paper owed to a survey on situation of public libraries in Thailand which was previously conducted by Technical Information Access Center from the in initiative of the Bill and Melinda Gates foundation in 2006.

Public library was established in Thailand as a temple library at Wat Pra Chetupon in Bangkok since the reign of King Rama III, at times when there was no formal compulsory education. The Buddhist temples though had been open access for the public to learn reading and writing. The knowledge taught by the Buddhist monks was mainly Buddhist teaching and traditional literature as well as traditional medicine. That time was also the beginning era of printing press in Thailand and printed books, newspapers and government journals in Thai and English were introduced to the country about 200 years ago. Thai alphabet was invented in 1283 A.D. by King Ramkhamhaeng and has been the national language until today. Thai people started to learn English in the beginning of Chakri Dynasty of Rattanakosin Period. It was the same time as the western colonization, Thailand entered modernization and the country began to re-establish diplomatic relationship with western countries after a few decades since Ayutthaya Period or before Rattanakosin Period when Bangkok became the national capitol.

Modern public libraries were started as being the so-called “public reading room”, which was established for the first time in 1916 by the Education Department. The first three “public reading rooms” were located still in the Buddhist temples. In 1949, the Ministry of Education set up the modern western style public libraries with a purpose to promote reading and learning habits among Thai people. At that time there were only a small number of public libraries built for serving the communities in 20 provinces, then the number was increased to 64 in 1950, and in 2006 there are 927 public libraries in Thailand.

A structure of public library system

Public libraries in Thailand are under Ministry of Education. There are 896 Public libraries at the national level, and separately Bangkok Metropolitan Administration is responsible for its 41 public libraries serving the Bangkok population.

Public libraries under Ministry of Education

In 1952, the Ministry of Education in cooperation with the Ministry of Interior, formulated policies to expand public libraries to build more libraries and community reading areas at the district level. The Ministry of Interior provided space in the community while the Ministry of Education allocated budget for their construction. In 1973, the public libraries were officially transferred as part of the Adult Education
Division under General Education Department which had duties to cover the following functions:

  • 1.To provide non-formal education services to the public
  • 2.To promote people’s reading and learning habits
  • 3.To provide people with up-to-date information and knowledge
  • 4.To promote and advice knowledge to people, as well as develop attitudes and civic awareness under the democratic system
  • 5.To promote and disseminate culture
  • 6.To promote and advice people to spend their spare time usefully

Public libraries are classified by the level of local government administration:

  • 1. Provincial level

Public libraries in all provinces consisted of main public libraries which are considered large-size libraries according to hierarchical and local government, not by size of book collection to give service to relatively large groups of people within the provincial area. Currently, there are 76 provincial public libraries. Besides providing various kinds of book service, audio-visual rooms or non-formal education rooms, the libraries also provided special sections containing materials and textbooks of Sukhothai Thammathirat Open University and Ramkhamheang University for their students taking correspondence or distance education courses and public users can have access to the collections

  • 2. Chalermrajgumaree Public Libraries, considered medium size libraries of provincial level were first established in 1991, in honor of Her Royal Highness Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn who has acted as a patronage to the Thai Library Association. The library buildings were built from donations of the private source of fund and financially supported by the government for the library operation.
  • 3. District and sub-district level

-Public libraries for district and sub-district levels are small libraries which are extended within the network of provincial public libraries to provide service to people in the district areas. At present, there are only 655 district public libraries and 53 sub-district public libraries.

  • 4. Mobile libraries

Office of Non-formal Education started mobile services from providing only one bus mobile library and one boat mobile library for the people in Bangkok and the areas nearby.

Number of public libraries

In 2006, there are 900 public libraries in76 provinces

  • 1.Provincial libraries 149
  • 2.District libraries 695
  • 3.Sub-district libraries 56


It must be noted that not all provinces in the country that have public libraries. Three provinces that has not as yet built public libraries: Pattani in the south, Lampoon in the north, and Nongbua Lampoo in the northeast. These three provinces though have access to Chalermrajgumaree Libraries. A result is that 743 provinces have 2 public libraries and 3 provinces have only one library. Also we must note that there are nearly 7,000 sub-districts throughout the country, while there are only 56 public libraries for the sub-districts. This means a population of 30 million does not have access to public library service locally.

Bangkok Metropolitan Administration public libraries

Bangkok Metropolitan Administration (BMA) is independent authority of municipality, and it has responsibility to provide education and public services for the people. Public libraries work under the Public Library Section, Recreation Division, under Department of Social Welfare. There are 23 public libraries in Bangkok, 7 bus mobile libraries and 23 Ban Nangsue (Book Houses built from two goods containers connected and housed with books and journals traveling through and parked in small villages in Bangkok).

The first public library under BMA was established in 1956 is Suan Lumpini Park Public Library. In 2006, Bangkok Metropolitan renovated the old library building to a modern living library in downtown, equipped with computers for online searching and public access to Internet, and leisure coffee corner in order to encourage people’s culture of loving to read and to support Bangkok to be “World Book Capital”. According the action plan of Public Library Section, Bangkok Metropolitan Administration will provide 5 more public libraries and 50 Book Houses within 2008 including more public libraries at the railway stations in Bangkok, in the future. “The Discovery Learning Library” is the theme which BMA promotes to support reading promotion and learning campaign for children and youths to have the good quality of life, and adults to have lifelong education. BMA public libraries are aimed at being a lifestyle and more attractive library. The Suan Lumpini Park Public Library and Soi Pra Nang Public Library are two showcases opened in 2007.

Statistical data on the use of public libraries

Data on the use of public libraries are available from the survey in 2005 by Chulalongkorn University revealed a relatively low usage of public libraries. Data also indicated some 7,000 sub-districts with approximate number of 30 million people, or nearly half of the total population of Thailand do not have public libraries in their communities.

In 2005 there was in average less than one per cent of the population who were registered members of public libraries. a number of 21.7 million entries or less than 3 per cent of the population went to public libraries once in a year. Data on library use for Bangkok in 2005 of all branches including mobile libraries were 3,192,909 visits and 284,374 visits for book houses. A total number of public library users in Bangkok were then 3,477,283, a number of borrowed items showed to be very low ranking of 9.6 million times in a year for the total of 62 million populations. Proportion of the population using public libraries showed to be less than 1 per cent.

2.2.5 School libraries

Regarding the development of school libraries in Thailand, so far there is inadequate information except for a report from Thai Library Association that revealed slow progress in the past. But, school libraries tend to receive more support from the government benefiting from the National Education Act 1999. An in-depth survey of school libraries is needed and it is not an initial aim of this study. It is assumed that every school has a library, but a quantitative number does not indicate the quality of school libraries in the country. It can be noted the development of SchoolNET project which was initiated by National Electronic and Computer Technology (NECTEC) in 1995 has marked a movement of school library network that links libraries to share resources. At least 5000 schools were able to teach students to learn how to manage their own web pages, as well to practically create multimedia and animation projects. NECTEC initiative was very successful. By the end of the third phase of SchoolNET in 1999 when the government approved the expansion of the project to enable 5000 schools throughout the country to participate in the network, on the occasion of 60th Anniversary of His Majesty the King’s Coronation. As a result, work was accomplished namely content creation for electronic library. A prototype of online digital library was developed providing courses and teaching materials for primary and secondary schools in various sucbjects: science, technology and engineering. More than 7000 titles created in Thai language for 10 subjects became available online in 2002. It is important to note the 4th phase of SchoolNET and after NECTEC had finished the pilot project, a hand-over was planned for Ministry of Education to move on. The target was set to include every school in the whole country which means 38,000 schools would participate in the network by 2003. SchoolNET is at present under Ministry of Education.

There is a need to find out the fact and figure that shows the actual status of school libraries in the country, as well as the status of school librarians, library budget and physical library with environmental set up that can draw students to use and to enjoy the pleasure of reading and learning.

2.3 Information literacy

Before a discussion on information literacy, a brief note on general literacy rates is useful to understand the situation of information literacy in Thailand. This part of our study owed to the previous report on Thai public libraries in 2006. Then a summary from Narumol’s thesis helps to know how selected groups of libraries performed in terms of ability to use the library and information provided to them. An observation into research projects on information literacy in Thailand is reported in this study.

Mentioned earlier that literacy rates of Thailand was as high as the average of 95%, it is important to find that in 2005 statistics showed 98.5% literacy for population age 15-24, and 93.5% for population from 15 years and older. Statistics was higher in 2005 than earlier years. But, only 60% of graduates from compulsory education or grade 6 are literate in functional reading and writing as well as in mathematics. Thus Thailand workforce still lacks both quality and quantity. Although in 2005 a number of workers who finished primary education continued to increase from the previous years, a number was still insufficient to meet the industry need of the country. The target of the 10th National Plan is to encourage young people to enter vocational education, to set up parental networks in order to help social development services and to encourage the graduates to return to work in their hometowns. Lifelong learning will be promoted to all citizens along with distance learning and e-learning for employment skills development and to increase higher literacy rates. The 10th National Plan aimed at providing lifelong learning especially for workforce who had been deprived from formal education. A number is approximately 14 million in 2006, and this means 20% of total population and represented 32.2 of population within a range of 15-59 years of age.

Information literacy is in general defined as the ability of the individuasl in the need to find and to use information. Information literacy skill means the individuals’ skills to learn and to find information by themselves from available resources, such as local organizations, libraries and Internet. They should be able to evaluate for the reliability of the source of information as well as to adapt the information for suitable use. (ACRL 2000 and Moore).

There is a need to find data on digital and media literacy and the status of information literacy skills. So far there are a few research projects being conducted on information literacy. Findings from our investigation can be summarized that information literacy is an overall skills of information and use, information seeking behavior, user studies and user education/training. It is interesting to find that selected groups users showed the need to improve their individual skill in information literacy. Narumol studied the information literacy skills of S&T information users and found that they were information literate because they believed to always looked for a variety of information resources when doing research or assignment and used search engines on the Internet. Users agreed that it is important to evaluate the information from the Internet and from other sources in terms of reliability, and currency and authority. And, users showed the need for training on information resources for better use of the information. The study finds that a majority of users need to have training on online database searching, online full-text databases, online journal searching, and Internet searching. Other training courses required by users were to use document delivery and interlibrary loan and to update ICT skills.

Training on information literacy skills in Thailand can be noted from the activities of library in user service, and of the library schools. In general, libraries offered user training service such as guides to the use of library catalogs and to know basic library classification in order to find the materials by themselves. In many universities, there is no compulsory course on information literacy to the students. Libraries have mandates to provide training programs for students and staff. It is interesting to find that most libraries and library schools in Thailand do not seem to have cooperation in the design and implementation of information literacy course.

Research on information literacy

Information literacy research has gained more interest from library management and library schools. Namtip Vipawin proposed a research on information literacy skills of university students in Thailand in 2006. The objective of the research was to study the levels of information literacy of university students as a whole and to compare the difference of information literacy skills between students of public universities and private universities in Thailand. A framework of the research was to follow the Association of College & Research Libraries, 2000). ACRL defines the information literate persons as following:

  • 1.knowing which information is correct and complete for decision making
  • 2.knowing the information need
  • 3.able to ask questions based on the information need
  • 4.able to specify which information is reliable
  • 5.able to formulate the search strategies
  • 6.able to search by using computers and IT services
  • 7.able to evaluate the information
  • 8.able to analyze the information for proper implementation
  • 9.able to repackage and consolidate the information to form new knowledge

The result of the research will be used in designing the information literacy courses for universities in Thailand. Libraries and learning centers will also be provided with information to design services that meet the actual need of the users.

It is interesting to note the graduate theses by Chulalongkorn University on information literacy, there are 3 studies:

  • The development of an instructional model based on resource-based learning to enhance information literacy in lower secondary school students.(Siriporn Taweechart. Ph.D 2002). This research aimed to develop and to evaluate an instructional model based on resource-based learning to enhance information literacy of the students. The results of the research were the design of the instructional model needed to include 7 steps: state of questioning the problems, search strategy planning, access of information from various sources, select and evaluate the information, make conclusion and presentation, evaluate the process and productm and apply the knowledge. It was found that the instructional model was effectively designed and can be implemented because students received passing scores and were able to achieve learning at high level.
  • The effects of the big 6 approach web-based information retrieval learning upon undergraduate students’s information skills. (Prawatwong Yangklang, Master.2005). This research employed the experimental research methodology and implemented research instruments: web-based lessons, questionnaire of computer experiences and using search engines experience, information literacy skills test, and web-based information retrieval learning satisfaction evaluation forms. It was found that students performed relatively better in information literacy skills after having experienced the web-based lessons.
  • Information literacy of Chulalongkorn University’s first year students. (Pimonrat Sookmak. Master.2005). This research aimed at studying the information literacy of first year students in the recognition of information need, information source identification, information searching, information evaluation, and information use as well as problems of information searching. The findings were the information literacy was high in recognition of information need, information source identification, information searching, information evaluation, and information use. Information literacy was at medium level in information advanced searching. Students did not have enough knowledge on the available full-text resources.

2.4 Information professional

2.4.1 Library and information education in Thailand

Library education in Thailand was first introduced at Chulalongkorn University in 1951 under the support of the Fulbright Foundation. At the beginning, it was just a training program, conducted by five American professors who offered a certificate in library science. In 1955, the Department of Library Science was established at the Faculty of Arts, Chulalongkorn University to offer a program for a diploma in library science. Narumol, 1999)

The first course on “library use” was offered to freshmen of the Faculty of Arts in 1957. Later, a full undergraduate program in library science was offered for juniors and seniors. In 1964, the master’s program in Library Science was introduced. The curriculum was based on that of graduate library schools in United States, with modifications to meet the needs of Thailand. Another graduate level of education offered in 1965 was Advanced Certificate in Library Science at the College of Education, Prasanmitr Campus (now Srinakharinwirot University). It was a one-year post bachelor’s degree program aimed to produce school librarians, comprising three main subjects, namely, survey of library science, theory and technical process, and practicum in library service. (Pimrumpai Premsamith, 1999)

At present, there are more than 40 universities both private and public that offer programs in library science at a bachelor, master, and doctorate levels. The universities that offer programs at a bachelor degree include: Chulalongkorn Univeristy, Thammasat University, Chiang Mai University, Khon Khaen University, Prince of Songkla University, Ramkamheang University, Silapakorn University, Mahasarakam University, Sukhothai Thammathirat Open University, Burapha University, Suranaree University of Technology, Walailuk University, Rangsit University, the University of the Thai Chamber of Commerce, and Dhurakijpundit University. In addition, more than 35 Rajabhat Universities situated around the country are also offered bachelor degree in Library Science. This undergraduate program aims at preparing professional for library and information work both in government and private sectors. For graduate program, there are 10 universities offer the master degree programs in library and information science. These include Chulalongkorn Univeristy, Thammasat University, Srinakharintharawirot University, Ramkamheang University, Mahasarakam University, Chiang Mai University, Khon Khean University, Sukhothai Thammathirat Open University, Prince of Songkla University, and Burapha University. Curricula for the graduate programs in each university recognize the need for technology knowledge, research and other skills as underlying competencies for information professionals. For doctoral degree, Khon Kaen University offers the joint doctoral program in “Information Studies” to share human resources and faculty members with other universities in 2003. Additionally, Sukhothai Thammathirat Open University is going to offer the second doctoral program in 2008. It is noted that the course on Library and Information Science (LIS) in Thailand has been offered not only the regular system of education but also there is a distance education system. Sukhothai Thammathirat Open University (STOU), founded in 1978, offers library and information science education as a true distance education system. The program was set up by the School of Liberal Arts to offer the bachelor's degree and the certificate in 1989 and 1991 respectively. The master program has been introduced in 2001. (Chutima Sacchanand, 1999 : 77-83).

As the LIS program is offered by many institutions. Their titles of awarded degree vary from university to university. Some universities award degree in Library and Information Science, somes in Information Studies, while somes in Library Science.

Curriculum Development

The on-going development of information and communication technology and changing of users’ needs and their information-seeking behaviors forced the information professionals and their practices to change continuously. The Thai Library schools realize these changes therefore the curriculum have been revised from time to time in all LIS schools. In doing so, Guidelines on a Curriculum for Information Professional in the Asia-Pacific Region, initiated by UNESCO, have been introduced to offer measurements for quality control of educational programs. In addition, roundtable discussions were organized by the Working Committee on Curriculum Improvement of the Ministry of the University Affairs and the drafted framework was presented by LIS educators. There are in many library schools, taking into account the social and economic conditions, evaluation and suggestions from employers of information professionals in various organizations. Curriculum now gear to equip graduates with skills and competencies to work in the new environment in both government and private sectors. (Pimrumpai, 1999:75). It is noted that the term “Library” is omitted in the awarded degree of many universities during the curriculum revisions.

Accreditation

Library and information science education is at the departmental level within faculties (schools). The curriculum structure depends on policies and regulations of higher education institutions affiliated. Only the parent institutions of those schools, in cooperation with the Commission on the Higher Education in the Ministry of Education are responsible for the approval of LIS curriculum.

Library and information science education reached its 50th anniversary in 2005. There is an ongoing efforts of educators to revise, improve and enhance the educational programs. There are new programs both at undergraduate and graduate levels. All library schools attempt to provide appropriate curricula for the Thai society and to produce a well- trained information professional to meet the needs of the job market.

A list of institutions that offer courses in library and information science

Institution Degree
1.Burapha UniversityB.A.(Information Studies)
2.Chiang Mai UniversityB.A.(Information Studies)
3.Chulalongkorn UniversityB.A. (Information Studies)
4.Khon Kaen UniversityB.A. (Information Science)
5.Prince of Songkla University at PattaniB.A. (Information Management)
6.Ramkamhaeng UniversityB.A. (Information Studies)
7.Silpakorn UniversityB.A. (Information and Library Science)
8.Srinakarinwirot UniversityB.A. (Library and Information Science)
9.Sukhothai Thammatirat Open UniversityB.A. (Information Science)
10.Suranari Technological UniversityB.I.S. (Information Studies)
11.Thammasat UniversityB.A. (Library and Information Science)
12.Walailak UniversityB.I.S. (Information Management)
13.University of Thai Chamber of CommerceB.A. (Information Studies)
14.Dhurakit Bundit UniversityB.A. (Information and Library Science)
15.Rajabhat University at SurinB.A. (Library and Information Science)
16.Rajabhat University at Udon ThaniB.A. (Information and Library Science)
17.Rajabhat University at Ubon RajthaniB.A. (Information and Library Science)
18.Rajabhat University at BurirumB.A. (Information and Library Science)
19.Rajabhat University at Suan DusitB.A. (Information and Library Science)
20.Rajabhat University at Suan SunanthaB.A. (Information and Library Science)
21.Rajabhat University at Chiang MaiB.A. (Information and Library Science)
22.Rajabhat University at Ban SomdejB.A. (Information and Library Science)
23.Rajabhat University at Nakon Sri ThammaratB.A. (Information and Library Science)
24.Rajabhat University at Kanchana BuriB.A. (Information and Library Science)
25.Rajabhat University Walai AlongkornB.A. (Information and Library Science)
26.Rajabhat University at KampangpecthB.A. (Information and Library Science)
27.Rajabhat University at MahasarakamB.A. (Information and Library Science)
28.Rajabhat University ChankasemB.A. (Information and Library Science)
29.Rajabhat University at Sakon NakornB.A. (Information and Library Science)
30.Rajabhat University at Nakon RajasimaB.A. (Information and Library Science)

2.4.2 Thai Library Association

Thai Library Association (TLA) was established in 1954 by a group of Thai librarians, who attended library science courses at Chulalongkorn University. The group was supported by the Asia Foundation at the beginning and was granted to be under the Royal Patronage of Her Royal Highness Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn in 1976. TLA objectives To enable TLA to reach its goal in the enhancement of librarianship in Thailand,TLA announced the objectives as follows:

  • 1.to encourage unity and assistance among members
  • 2.to promote and disseminate library and information science, education, and culture including journal publication
  • 3.to help in the growth and development of libraries throughout the country
  • 4.to share and exchange professional knowledge and experience with other library associations locally and abroad
  • 5.to safeguard the welfare and the status of library and information personnel
  • 6.to give consultation, supervision in the selection of library materials/furniture and the organization of any libraries upon request
  • 7.to serve as a center to receive assistance of any source: individual, organization or institution, so as to carry out the objectives of the Association
  • 8.to be a non-political association

Among several activities of TLA, the annual conferences have been organized continuously since 1960. The conference themes changed every year to meet the social interest of library and information professional. The themes of the conferences reflected the professional development and over the past 30 years the topics related to the National Information Policy were selected to discuss a few times. It is interesting to find out the extent to which the resolutions and outcome from the conferences were translated into practice.

  • 1960 Creative and technical writing
  • 1961 Library administration
  • 1962 Libraries and the community
  • 1963 Libraries and national development
  • 1964 Library services
  • 1965 Books for children and youth
  • 1966 Library and finance
  • 1967 The role of libraries in national development
  • 1968 How to improve library administration
  • 1969 Data management techniques
  • 1970 Libraries and education
  • 1971 National Book Week
  • 1972 How to encourage people’s reading habit
  • 1973 Status and problems of Thai book publishing
  • 1974 Problems in library administration
  • 1975 The role of libraries in educational reform
  • 1976 Library public relations
  • 1977 How the National Information System can help libraries, information centers and archives
  • 1978 The role libraries in non-formal education
  • 1979 TLA and the development of libraries and library profession
  • 1980 Librarians in modern society
  • 1981 Libraries and the 5th National Economic and Social Development Plan
  • 1982 Information service for educational development
  • 1983 Libraries in the information age
  • 1984 Information for national development
  • 1985 Library systems and services for development
  • 1986 Standards for library service development
  • 1987 Building reading society and the use of information
  • 1988 Tomorrow library
  • 1989 National Information System for development
  • 1990 Library and information for development of quality of life
  • 1991 Information management strategy for development
  • 1992 Information professional in hi-tech age: perspectives and direction
  • 1993 Information services meet the user needs: true or not
  • 1994 Appropriate technology for libraries
  • 1995 Libraries in globalization age
  • 1996 Library network for sustainable development
  • 1997 Thai libraries and economic crises
  • 1998 Libraries in the changing society
  • 1999 The role of libraries to support the basic education under the constitution
  • 2000 The role of libraries in human resources development
  • 2001 Library reform for new educational system
  • 2002 New age libraries: leadership of learning society
  • 2003 Library development toward excellent service
  • 2004 New dimensions of library development
  • 2005 Knowledge management in libraries
  • 2006 Library management in the digital age
  • 2007 Public awareness of information: learning for sufficiency economy

TLA has received support from the Thai community and recognized as strong professional association for most 50 years. For the past few years, TLA was successful to be able to draw the attention of the Stock Exchange of Thailand (SET) which contributed a large amount of money to renovate the TLA office. At the same time , SET built a modern style living public library in the same TLA building to serve the community in lifelong learning. SET also provided an endowment fund for TLA for the outstanding librarian award to encourage the library professional who dedicated their work and lives for the development of libraries in Thailand.



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