Greetings from Henry in Zhuhai

by Jing Liu ~ December 7th, 2006. Filed under: Uncategorized.

Greetings, everyone!

I started working for my new employer, United International College, on November 10, and have been busy ever since. The college is still under construction which is expected to complete in one year’s time. Right now there are 1200 undergraduate students. When the college is in full operation, the student population will be 5000, including post-graduates.

As head of the library, now I have only two staff members, young and hard working, plus 10 student library assistants. The library was opened one week after I started working. It’s a temporary one of two classrooms. The new library will be a stand-alone building of 10,000 square meters with 3 floors beset in the hills. (The view will be excellent.) I have attended one meeting with the construction team for what kind of library building we’d like to have. I’ll visit university libraries in Hong Kong next week to get some ideas of library buildings and facilities. Other major issues on my agenda for the new library include selection of Integrated Library System and venders, collection development, staff building (30 FTE), departmental structuring, and policy making. All these jobs are very challenging to me as I’ve never been a library manager, but I have the confidence I can do it and do it well as I know I am a quick learner with potentials.

I would like my library to be distinguished in three areas in China. First, excellent customer service. For example, having visited several academic libraries in China, I am very surprised that none of them has a reference service desk in the library. I have been thinking that, in three years time, many library professionals in China will come to visit my library to see what a reference service is like. Second, best collection in the English language in some subject areas. I can do this fairly easily because I can take advantage of the fact that my college is one of the only two colleges in China where all courses are taught in English. Imagine scholars and researchers in China will have to seek help from my library by inter-library loan for some English books in five years time. Third, creating an excellent study environment in the library building, making it more humane and more catering for library users with better space management and technology/facilities convenience.

I live in a rented apartment of two bedrooms in one of the two best residence compounds in the city. It’s very convenient to work, 20 min bus-drive or 10 min school shuttle-bus drive. I always eat out either by myself or with colleagues/friends. It is cheap: 2.5 Canadian dollars for a steak with rice or spaghetti, and it tastes good!

Anyway, I pretty enjoy myself here. Come and visit me when any of you are in this corner of the world.

Merry Christmas and a happy New Year!


4 Responses to Greetings from Henry in Zhuhai

  1.   Ian

    Hi Henry,

    Good start! Thank you for sharing your experience with us.
    I visited a few academic and public libraries in China last month. Most library buidlings are new and luxurious, but not pritical.Library architecture or style is strange.Kind of waste.
    Most libraries in China do have reference services, but librarians do their job in their office, not at reference desk. Undergraduates do not need any reference serives at all in China, because the system makes them feel that all they need are offical text books and lecture from their instructors. I really hope you can make something different.
    Please post more about your experience there and also your life. You do not have to tell us where you go for entertaiment after work.

  2.   Mindy

    Hat off to Henry! I truly admire your courage and determination to accomplish all the three major tasks mentioned in the post. Every single task is a huge challenge, but as you said, they’re much-needed elements in the library culture in China. Wish you all the best along the way of building a pioneering academic library model in China! Keep in touch and let us know how things are going!

  3.   Jing

    I heard about this treasured posting, but only find time to read and comment now. Thank you Henry so much for keep all us here updated. I was at the HSS new head presentation this morning. Besides bunch of stuff on Google or Open WorldCat, Eric mentioned about cross-continental collaboration. I would love to see some work done together with our different expertise.

  4.   Sharon

    I think in addition to the three key objectives, there are also needs for intensive marketing to make library patrons understand what they can get from the library. This is not easy even in Canadian context. I can imagine it must be hard on the other side of the Pacific!
    By the way, I’m new here. My name is Sharon Wang, a reference librarian at Osgoode Hall Law School Library of York University in Toronto. Not quite sure who are contributors or members of this blog and not sure how to join this group… Anyone can offer help? I’m a Chinese and just started my librarian career in summer 2006. Nice to “meet” you all!

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