Reviewed By: Curtis Driscoll, Matt Grills, Ahmed Jalloh, Mariah Robbins
Library Development in Vietnam
Hossain (2013) examines non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and non-profit organizations (NPOs) contribution to libraries in Vietnam for the sake of educational development and access to information. NGOs/NPOs assist through services and education to help bridge the gaps in the library system. The academic missions of libraries and NGOs/NPOs in Vietnam are now increasingly similar which is crucial for the educational improvement of the country. Both acquire and organize information used throughout the country to improve society, expose people to new ideas, and new ways of thinking. However, some libraries in Vietnam have no unified policy for the development of staff, training, programs, and regulations of libraries. The author argues that the many NGOs/NPOs in the country step in to help fill the gap to ensure a better library and education process for the citizens. Many have already started working with libraries and the government to help improve library systems.
NGOs/NPOs and libraries provide literacy and educational advancements and the chance for lifelong learning that can lead to more research, ideas, and creativity in a society. NGOs/NPOs in Vietnam provide library materials needed to build, renovate, and help libraries, including training librarians and providing modern materials and programs. NGOs/NPOs are an integral part of the Vietnam library system. Many NGOs/NPOs help Vietnam society in community development and are part of an informal education network to increase information literacy. The first speaking mobile library for the blind at the General Library of Ho Chi Minh City and the Samsung “Smart Library Program” are NGO/NPO programs used specifically in Vietnam to help address issues and needs in their specific information communities (Hossain, 2013, pg. 10). Furthermore, NGOs/NPOs like the Singapore International Foundation Mobile library help bring new access to the internet for the younger population (Hossain, pg. 11). Vietnam also has a long history of libraries working to help the public, starting with the French in Indochina and its national system today. Vietnam’s library system has over 23,000 state-funded libraries and over 25,000 people working in library services (Hossain, pg. 5).
The article shows the relationship between NGOs/NPOs and libraries in Vietnam and how these organizations are a fundamental part of public libraries and overall education improvements. This is different from how NGOs/NPOs work with libraries in America. The library system in Vietnam has different challenges regarding uniformity and reaching people that NGOs/NPOs help to fill. This article provides an international perspective and examples of how NGOs/NPOs and libraries here in the United States could partner to improve libraries and the services they provide.
Hossain researched how many non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and non-profit organizations (NPOs) were involved in campaigns to increase Vietnamese literacy rates and lifelong learning. Many of these organizations tackled their mission through “building, renovating or patronizing libraries, providing books and other library resources including trained librarians throughout Vietnam” (pg. 6). He sought to explain why NGOs/NPOs focused on school and community library use as the means for fostering lifelong learning. And by discovering how they facilitate lifelong learning in children, Hossain investigates the impact it has had on libraries in Vietnam.
To answer the research question regarding the impact that NGOs and NPOs have had on the literacy rates and lifelong learning of the Vietnamese people, Hossain used several methodologies. These included collecting primary data from these organizations from the Vietnam Union of Friendship Organizations-Non-Governmental Organizations (VUFO-NGO) Resource Center Vietnam, and then creating an email questionnaire. In tandem with these efforts, the researcher collected literature sources from the internet and local newspapers reports (Hossain, pg. 6). The subject group consisted of 21 NGOs/NPOs that were targeted, with 14 of these groups responding, generating a response rate of 66.6% (pg. 6). The researcher presented 7 study questions, analyzing all the data after the surveys had been returned.
The data that was collected was largely provided by the responding NGOs/NPOs; however, it should be noted that a small number of data was collected from the responding organization’s websites. This cross collection of data also was affected by two other factors: 1) Not all of the responding organizations could provide an exact number of beneficiaries related to the library programs they provided, and; 2) the researcher could not physically visit the areas where these organizations worked (Hossain, pg. 7).
Such considerations should be considered when discussing the primary study questions examined by the researcher. These questions included: 1) How many libraries did the NGO/NPO build/renovate in Vietnam; 2) How many books did the NGO/NPO donate; 3) How library personnel had been trained by the NGO/NPO, and; 4) What was the number of beneficiary affected by the NGO/NPO library program/activities (Hossain, pg. 6). Each of these questions was directed at answering the overall research question presented by Hossain.
Finding and Conclusion
The author’s data displays exactly which reading/library programs NGOs/NPOs created to build/renovate libraries, provide books and train librarians. In total, there were ten NGOs/NPOs programs that built 743 libraries (Hossain, pg. 7-8). These organizations also donated over 1,793,543 books and trained 400 librarians (Hossain, pg. 9-10). The significance of these contributions is the positive impact they have had on literacy rates in Vietnam. The author explains how reading is directly correlated to the presence of a full-time librarian (Hossain, 2013).
The study shows that the Vietnamese government should encourage NGOs/NPOs to collaborate with libraries to enhance learning and the development of communities. And it should collaborate with these organizations in order to enhance libraries and ensure the academic success of Vietnam. The author recommends that Vietnamese library schools should offer more advanced degrees in library science such as a MPhil and a PhD (Hossain, pg. 14). He claims that Vietnamese NGOs/NPOs have limited access to public resources and are not accepted/trusted by the government. However, both are involved in the development of the country. Lastly, Hossain mentions that improved communication between the government and NGOs/NPOs would promote better working conditions for the Vietnamese people (pg. 15).
What We Can Learn
American library professionals can learn a lot from global practice about designing services for diverse populations and as evidenced by this research study. One of the most notable aspects of this study that American library professionals can borrow is the concept of a public-private-nonprofit sector collaboration. These very powerful sectors can all work together to enhance public library services and benefit the community. For example, a private sector organization like Microsoft collaborating with a public organization (library) to upgrade the library’s computer software; a nonprofit like YMCA will then provide resources for a computer class at the library. In these partnerships every organization benefit and it bridges the digital divide in a community. Other areas that we can learn from include:
● Libraries partnering with NGOs/NPOs in the United States to enhance lifelong learning and literacy rates.
● Libraries can seek help from these organizations to help fill the gaps in funding, resources, programs and services.
● Libraries have closed in poor and racially diverse neighborhoods and rural counties, whereas new libraries are opened in white, affluent neighborhoods or metropolitan areas (Adkins, Haggerty and Haggerty, 2014, p. 7). By utilizing NGOs/NPOs, they could reopen libraries that had to close their doors.
● When working with an NGO or NPO, it is important to keep accurate track of data to show which groups are reached by programs and activities.
● Greater data on results can help to focus the organization for better service.
● Organizations can see greater success when they are able to demonstrate that they achieve results from their work and can effectively communicate this with examples.
Adkins, D. C., Haggerty, K. C., & Haggerty, T. M. (2014). The influence of community demographics on new public library facilities. Proceedings of the American Society for Information Science and Technology, 51(1), 1-8. DOI: 10.1002/meet.2014.14505101050
Hossain, Z. (2013). An analytical study of some NGOs’/NPOs’ contributions by promoting library activities at disadvantageous areas in Vietnam to create potential and lifelong learners. Library Philosophy and Practice (e-journal), 864. 1-17. Retrieved from https://digitalcommons.unl.edu/libphilprac/864