United Nations Dag Hammarskjöld Library

National Library of China Creating Partnerships with Libraries in China: Workshop for United Nations Depository Librarians

Beijing, China, from 27 to 30 April 2010

View photographs of the Workshop

This Workshop was co-organized by the Dag Hammarskjöld Library, United Nations and the National Library of China. The management of the National Library of China, one of the largest and most respected libraries in the world, has done an outstanding job in helping this workshop achieve its goals.

The main objective of the event was to bring together United Nations depository librarians in the People’s Republic of China to discuss the transformation of many libraries from passive collectors of UN documentation to become active participants in promoting information on global issues, knowledge sharing and building a network of partners. The workshop was also aimed to strengthen the participants’ knowledge of the UN structure, activities, documentation and to enhance their skills in retrieval of information and effective use of reference tools.

A total of 50 participants from 26 libraries in China, including 19 United Nations depository libraries, attended the workshop.

The facilitators (speakers) were Mr. Anatoli Sidorenko, Coordinator, UN Depository Library Programme, Dag Hammarskjöld Library, United Nations; Ms. Yihong Liang, Librarian, Dag Hammarskjöld Library, United Nations; Ms. Hong Gao, Director of Foreign Acquisitions and Cataloguing Department, National Library of China; Ms. Jieyin Feng, Shanghai Library and ISTIS; Dr. Helen Ieong, University of Macau Library; Mr. Yuejin Li, Associate Research Librarian, International Organizations and Government Publications Section, National Library of China;  Ms. Ling Yan, Director, and Ms. Huamin Zhou, Law School Library, Wuhan University.

The workshop was conducted in English and Chinese. Presentations included such topics as: Dag Hammarskjöld Library and its new directions; an overview of the UN Depository Library Programme; depository libraries as a network of outreach partners; basics of UN documentation; sources of information on and about the UN; the Official Document System of the United Nations; the UN web search (tips and techniques), other UN document search tools; access to and working with the UN information and documentation, etc. Group discussions on what the United Nations can do to assist depository libraries in China and what can depository libraries do for the UN in that country were an important part of the programme.

A highlight of the workshop was a tour of the new ultra modern high tech building of the National Library of China.

Outcome and recommendations:

Participants have shared their experience and came forward with proposals about outreach activities. Some common problems and new ideas on how to disseminate UN materials were suggested by participants.

What can depository libraries do for the United Nations in China?

  • Establish a network of depository librarians by creating a separate group in QQ (popular social network in China) for cooperation and information exchange.
  • Create a joint website related to depository libraries.
  • Create a blog to facilitate information exchange, share work experience and get help with solving problems.
  • Use the experience of Shanghai Library and University of Macau Library to establish direct links from depository collections to the main web pages of the institutions and their libraries.
  • Strengthen a proactive communication with the researchers/scholars interested in the UN materials.
  • Develop training programmes for the local users on how to use the UN databases.
  • Partner with other institutions on the UN-related activities.

What can the United Nations do for depository libraries in China?

  • There is not enough coordination and integration in the outreach activities of the United Nations in the country. The Dag Hammarskjöld Library should integrate the information resources of the UN system, its reference tools, databases, and recommend them to be used in outreach activities of depository libraries.
  • The Dag Hammarskjöld Library should promote an exchange of information and work experience among the depository libraries by creating an online platform.
  • Communication between the United Nations and depository libraries in China should be strengthened by designating a country coordinator.
  • Public information materials (posters, brochures, cards, small souvenirs) should be prepared and sent to depository libraries in advance of the scheduled events.
  • The United Nations could authorize creation of the local mirror site in China for all free online resources of the Organization available on the Web.
  • Help page for the UNBISnet is not user-friendly. It needs improvement.
  • Strengthen the training for depository librarians. Hands-on workshops should be held every 2 years.
  • The United Nations should introduce an electronic claiming procedure for its documents and publications.
  • The Treaty Series (paper version) should continue to be printed and distributed to the depository libraries.
  • The contribution fees, paid by some depository libraries, should be reviewed in light of changes in publishing and distribution practices of some UN offices.

This is the eighth workshop since 2006, where librarians had the opportunity to discuss changes in the UN Depository Library Programme to include a greater partnership role in the dissemination and marketing of information for UN goals and priorities.