Editor: For this edition of the “In Conversation” series, the Library Association of Singapore (LAS) Publications Committee is pleased to be able to invite Dr Bryan Chua, Director for Centre for Professional & Leadership Development (CPLD) from Nanyang Polytechnic (NYP) to share his expertise and insights on Teaching & Learning (T&L) in relation to Librarianship. We thank Dr Bryan for his time in accommodating to this email interview and would like to wish him all the best at NYP’s CPLD.
Ed: So Dr Bryan, do share with us more about yourself. How long have you been with NYP and CPLD, and what are your areas of interest?
Bryan: I started my career with NYP more than 17 years ago as a lecturer teaching biological sciences subjects at the School of Health Sciences, assuming management responsibilities along the way, and moved to my current role in CPLD in 2016. I have very varied interests, which include music, art & craft, running and travelling, all of which I wish I could get more of.
Ed: Can you share with us your general impression of libraries when you step into them?
Bryan: The libraries of today are welcoming, tastefully furnished, family-oriented places which exude a calm and relaxed atmosphere, a place filled with people of all ages and walks of life. The customer-centric self-service features, and convenience of returning books at any branch are added bonuses.
Ed: Conducting user education programmes, such as Information Literacy for our library users, are part and parcel for most of us librarians. In order to deliver an effective programme, librarians need to equip and upgrade ourselves with T&L pedagogies so as to better engage our users. In other words, Librarianship and T&L are, to some extent in my opinion, inexorably linked. Would you be able to share with us your advice, and tips on how we as professional librarians can keep abreast with T&L practices and trends?
Bryan: I don’t think there is a secret formula or single answer to this question. The education landscape is constantly evolving and T&L innovations are appearing everywhere. This makes it challenging for any educator to keep abreast of T&L practices and trends. There are many avenues where one can seek professional updates, such as through reading of T&L publications, attending conferences or workshops, or simply by chatting with fellow educators to find out what T&L approaches they are adopting. One must keep an open-mind and not be afraid to experiment with new pedagogies, but such T&L practices must be supported by evidence. There is no single best pedagogical approach and we should be able to adapt to the profile of the audience and content to be delivered.
Ed: Libraries have indeed evolved over time with the proliferation of Information Technology and the demographical shift in the way our library users learn. What advice would you offer to librarians when it comes to the design of our library infrastructures in supporting T&L? What do you envision Libraries to be like, say 10 years down the road?
Bryan: I fully identify with the scenario you have just described. I do most of my reading and research online nowadays, in the comfort and convenience of my office or home, and sometimes while on the move. Our students, who are digital natives, would certainly prefer online and mobile platforms and perhaps would visit a physical library less frequently to search for information. Hence, I would imagine that libraries would progressively move from a place with loads of physical books to one which serves as a repository of e-resources, providing remote access to such resources to its subscribing members. The physical library is still relevant but perhaps more as a collaborative learning space for group discussions and project work. It should have freeform seating areas or discussion rooms, with easy access to e-resources. With the proliferation of wikis and various social media platforms, readers may get lost navigating or be overwhelmed by information. The online space is highly unregulated and readers need to be careful with the authenticity and accuracy of the information they consume. Librarians, being the experts at information curation, could then teach and guide the public in their information search.
Ed: I’ve heard you are an avid reader, Dr Bryan! Please share with us one title that, in your opinion, every single library should have!
Bryan: Libraries serve different segments of society. Hence, every library should have books to cater to the diverse interests and needs of all these groups of individuals, and it would be impossible to narrow it down to a single title.
The Centre for Professional and Leadership Development (CPLD) provides academic, management and leadership programmes for NYP staff. The Centre also supports and promotes excellence in teaching and learning at NYP through Professional Development courses for NYP educators in curriculum, pedagogy and assessment. For more information, please visit http://www.nyp.edu.sg
Contributed by Dr Bryan Chua, Director for Centre for Professional and Leadership Development, Nanyang Polytechnic.
Edited by Justin Tan, Editor