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View the documentManagement Development and Its Practice in Chinese Library and Information Services

Management Development and Its Practice in Chinese Library and Information Services

(The Institute of Scientific and Technical Information of China, Chongqing Branch)


Management, as a human organized activity, has been in existent e in organized society throughout all civilized history, although its systematic study as a branch of science is fairly recent. It emerges and develops along with the development of social productivity and obviously the management approaches have become more advanced and progressive to correspond with the progress of human society. That is to say the management approaches have a very close relation with social productivity and the economic formation of society. The library as a part of the social fabric, has existed in all ages of organized society. Management approaches in business, industry and social administration have inevitably influenced library management, and 50 would the past approaches influence the recent grits. The influence between one part of the world and other parts is extremely evident in modern society because of the advanced means of transportation and communication.

According to some hooks on management, the development of management in western countries can be roughly divided into four periodis: the prescientific period (before 1800), the scientific period (1800 1927), the human-relations period (1927 50) and the synthesis period (1950 present). Library management practice has generally followed the same pattern of development, several years later than business and industry. A study of the development of management in China and in Chinese libraries has revealed that it by and large follows the same basic lines. Therefore, it would be beneficial to take a short look at the development of business and library management in western countries first before dealing with the management approaches in China in general and in Chinese library and information services in particular.

The prescientific management approach existed during the period of slavery and feudal society. The word for these periods would be autocratic. To become a manager throughout these periods one only needed authority, power and coercion. There were no human rights as we speak of today, no willing participation and co-operation between manager and the managed. The industrial revolution beginning with the invention of Watt's steam engine and the spinning Jenny promoted the development of modern industry in the eighteenth century and brought with it the first glimmer of understanding in terms of management skill. Many principles and methodology of modern sciences were applied to problems of administration. In this context, the scientific management approach came into being. But most of the managerial concepts of the time emphasized organizational aspects, especially those relating to the production of goods. Attention was focused on production, efficiency, and the prevention of waste. Human factors were neglected. In contrast to this, the main emphasis of the human relations approach was on the individual and the informal group in the formal organization. This approach was concerned with integrating people into a work environment. The phrase "personnel administration" came into prominence at this time, and increased efforts towards democratization and staff participation were evident. This period was a reaction against the overemphasis on productivity during the scientific management period. In order to overcome the one-sidedness of both the scientific management approach and the human relations approach, most of the effort expended in developing management thinking and concepts has, since the early 1950s, been toward refining the work started by F. W. Taylor (the scientific approach advocate) and 1,. Mayo (the human relations approach advocate) and combining elements of both with ideas from other fields such behavioural sciences. Thus management theory and practice has entered into a new stage the synthesis period. This approach pays more attention to individual ego needs besides economic and social needs for work motivation and also attaches importance to the work situation which consists of three elements: people, organization and environment. Only if all these six factors are in balance can a harmonious and pleasant work situation be achieved and increased productivity as well.

The development of library management can also be roughly divided into three basis periods, i.e. pre- 1937, the scientific (1937-1955) and the human relations (1955 present). However, these time divisions art somewhat arbitrary, as the overlap between one period and another is very great, although there is some evidence that the periods identified do represent an effort on the part of library administrators to pick up some of the ideas coming out of the disciplines of business management and public administration.

Most libraries in the period before 1937 tended to be small. As the concern was simply to keep the libraries open, there was very little need to be concerned about costs and management. The chief librarian was expected to run the library and to make the decisions in almost all stages of its operation. Libraries had been run with a rather traditional and conservative approach. In the late 1930s, a number of changes in library services took place and in some respects there were great strides forward. Studies on cost analysis, technical services, cataloguing and use of edge cards appeared about this time. Then people began to look seriously at some of the work done by Taylor and others to see whether or not there were sonic techniques applicable to the library, situation. After the Second World War, with the rapid development of science and technology, and the urgent needs for scientific information and education, the budgets of libraries increased as well as new library building and collections. To cope with this new situation, libraries began applying a combination of the scientific management approach of the Taylor school with some of the new mathematical operations research techniques developed during the War and began to emphasize, efficient operation. However, being administrators of non-profit making institutions they had little or no idea about how much it cost to carry Out various library activities during this period, until in the mid-1960s computer application and systems analysis became more feasible for the library situation. The human relations school in library management came into being about 1955 and has had a continuing influence on library administration up to present time. In most libraries, human relations management means democratic administration, participative administration and involvement in the decision-making process, although there are several difficulties and problems in its practice.

More and more evidence demonstrates that the synthesis management approach is not only a theoretical concept, but a practical method employed in many libraries in recent years. As a matter of fact, no library administrator confines himself to one definite management style or school, but usually combines several styles or schools with scientific approach as the core. The Introduction of computers and modern facilities of communication and other electronic technology into libraries has had a profound effect on library management. No doubt, library management will continue to improve. Managers or administrators of libraries will have the background to make better selections from the developments in management and related fields. As this takes place the libraries should become a more basic part of the community arid a pleasant environment in which to work.


As stated above, management development has a close relationship with social development. T. F. Mention's great contribution to social sciences is his discovery, that human society in all parts of the world has by arid large gone through the same stages of social formation. Management development in China can also be roughly divided into three basic periods as in western countries, but with some differences. The main differences are: firstly, the prescientific period is rather long in China and the approaches of that period have strong influence on the approaches which followed, because of the long history of feudal society in China and the long dominant influence of Confucianism on Chinese ideology and ethics. Secondly, China went through semi-feudal and semi-colonial society, i.e. a mixed social formation of feudalism and colonialism, in the last century, which makes the scientific approach in China during this period somewhat different from the western one. Thirdly, the new democratic and socialist revolution in China inevitably marked a new stage of management development in China.

As for the temporal divisions, the whole period of Chinese slavery and feudal societies is prescientific; the scientific period began with the first attempt at introducing techniques of capitalist production (called the -Westernization-Movement- initiated by comprador bureaucrats in the latter half of the nineteenth century) till the founding of the People's Republic in 1949. Then began a new approach of socialist scientific management which is a different concept, but somewhat similar to human relations or synthesis approaches, and is the one that still needs to be developed and perfected.

Being one of the most ancient civilized countries in the world, China was outstanding in administering state affairs, organizing military operations and managing great projects such as the Great Wall and the Grand Canal in ancient times. Administrative affairs were systematized arid regularized as early as Xia Dynasty, (21 - 16th century, BC.) according to historical recordings. During the periods called the Spring and Autumn, and Waring States (770 - 221 BC), there was a period of time called the "Contention of a Hundred Schools of Tought Of, these schools, Legalists and Confucianists were in a dominant position and had a strong influence alternatively on the approaches of state administration. Legalists advocated reform and -“ruling by law". Qin Xiao Gong, the Duke of the State of Qin appointed legalists as his senior officials and carried out reform. Very soon, his state became stronger than the other states and finally defeated all of them. In the end, the whole of China was reunited by his grandson Qin Shi Huang, the noted first emperor of the Qin Dynasty in 221. Confucianists advocated "Following the previous kings' practice" which was rather conservative. Because of the needs to consolidate the centralized feudal monarchy, Emperor Wu of the Han Dynasty (206BC - AD220) implemented a policy of "Banning the other schools of thought and solely esteeming Confucianism". Since then, Confucianism dominated Chinese ideology for about two thousand years. The doctrine of obedience and loyalty to superiors benefited the ruling classes, but hampered people's initiative and creativity and fettered the productive forces. That is the reason why China could not move from a feudal society to a capitalist society in modern history, though the seeds of capitalism emerged long before they did in western countries, i.e. the thirteenth century, at the end of the Yuan Dynasty and the beginning of the Ming Dynasty. Autocracy in tile feudal society of China was so strong that even successive peasant uprisings could not shake its foundation until the invasion of foreign imperialism in the last century.

The repeated defeats in the wars between feudal China and foreign aggressors completely exposed the corrupt nature of the Qing Dynasty. These events on the one hand promoted the Reform Movement within the ruling classes and bourgeois democratic revolution of the people, and on the other hand introduced the ways and techniques of capitalist production and management. The rising of comprador-bureaucratic capitalism and the presence of foreign capitalism turned feudal China into a semi-feudal and semi-colonial country politically and economically. Management approaches in industry and business in this period were, in the main, scientific ones, but more autocratic. Workers had to work long hours, for low wages and in poor working conditions. Management in some enterprises during this period still relied heavily on coercion.

In discussing management in new China, two facts that make the nature of management differ from the western one must be noted. One is that China had abolished feudalism through land reform and later, capitalism through socialist transformation. All land, natural resources and means of production now belong to the people. Another fact is that the working people are politically masters of their own country. The principle of "cadre participation in collective productive labour and worker participation in management" ensures their position in production being equal to that of managers. Most of them work conscientiously and enthusiastically. This was especially true during the 1950s when planning, efficiency and economic results, in a sense, were emphasized, while labour emulation and voluntary labour were also encouraged. People were motivated mainly by spiritual reward in the early years. The participation in decision making. and the supervision over the management by workers are the striking characteristics of socialist management.

In the early 1950s, China stood politically on the side of the Soviet Union and learnt economically from the Russian. To some extent, China just copied the Soviet model in management as in other fields, which did not quite accord with China's real situation in many respects. It is wise for any country to learn from others' experiences and apply them in a creative way so as to develop her own. The "Charter of the Anshan Iron and Steel Company" was a systematic and comprehensive set of management regulations in industry stipulated by China in the early 1960s, which was then summarized into "70 Regulations" called Management Regulations for Industries, Mines and Enterprises-. Unfortunately, these regulations, influenced by left political idea had several defects. For example, while exaggerating the situation of class struggle in socialist society and overemphasizing the importance of mass movement in industry, scientific rules and methods were not respected adequately. The authorities concerned were simply after a high production quota, high output and quantity, while quality, efficiency, cost unit, economic results and the law of value were overlooked. That is what people usually called "too much enthusiasm and too little scientific consideration". However, for many years since the early 1950s, Sun Yefang, the former director of the Institute of Economics of the Academy of Social Sciences and a noted economist, has established a series of socialist economic principles in management in the context of China, such as those on achieving maximum economic results with minimum labour consumption; on paying attention to the law of value and profits in a planned economy; on enlarging enterprises' rights of management; and on the correct application of economic levers and raising the position of profit in management. His theories divined correctly that the mechanical copying of the Soviet model and the "left" deviation policies would do no good to Chinese economy. Unfortunately, Sun's theories were not accepted by the former authorities, and instead, he was criticized and accused of being revisionist. just at that time, scientific laws and economic rules were not fully observed and people's socialist enthusiasm was abused, thus causing two great setbacks during 1959-61 and 1966-76 in economic construction. The penalty for that is heavy: the huge waste of time, natural resources and human energy, especially the people's enthusiasm. The most successful enterprise in the early 1960s was Daquing Oil Field which was regarded as an example of scientific management in industry by the whole of China for many years. One of its management principles, the system of personal responsibility, is still adopted by all factories.

In recent years, things have been changing a lot. Scientific management is reemphasized in addition to economic system reform and technical transformation. Efficiency and economic results are again the vital norms for evaluating the success of a unit's management. People's material interests are linked with production. They are encouraged to do more work, get more. pay and be well off before others. Since individual interests have a lot to do with the interests of the units, every one is very much concerned with what is going on in his units and has a great say in decision making. Equalitarianism is rejected in the salary system nowadays. Instead, differentials are established according to kind of work and the quantity and quality of work done, and thus the socialist principle of product distribution, i.e. "from each according to his ability, to each according to his work", is really carried out. People are thereby motivated and inspired, and the relations between the managed and managers, and among colleagues and follow workers, are thus improved. On the other hand, each production unit has more rights of self'-management. That is to say it is more independent than it was, and assumes sole responsibility for its own profits and losses, which directly concern the income of both managers and staff. Under this situation, the initiative and enthusiasm of the people are brought into full play and thereby productivity is raised and output increased.

China is now experiencing a period of transformation through which some defects in the existing system will be overcome and some new approaches suitable to China's specific condition will be found on the basis of other management approaches for her modernization. Library and information services, as part of society, are sure to apply some of the principles of industry and business management to their own management, with some modifications in order to suit their own needs.


The existence of libraries in China can be traced back as far as the Shang Dynasty (1600-1100 BC). Although China has been noted for her prosperous imperial and private libraries for thousands of years, the main function of these early libraries was to collect and keep books, as in other countries. The use of these libraries was restricted to imperial families, senior officials and noted scholars, not for the general public. However, the prosperity of Shu Yuan (academy) libraries and private libraries in the Ming (AD 1368-1644) and especially the Qing Dynasty (AD 1644-1911) played an important role in spreading literacy and knowledge and in preserving rare editions of ancient books. The former libraries were designated only for the reference use of teachers and students. Books could not be taken out of the library premises. The latter were merely for book collection, but sometimes could be consulted by friends and noted scholars. These collectors were usually bibliographers or experts on textual criticism, examination and correction and were sometimes also book publishers. Book lending was generally impossible. Because of the relatively small size of most private libraries, almost all operations could be done by one person. A few private libraries such as the Tian Yi Ge and the Xi Gu Ge which had existed for several hundred years, had very, large collections by the standards of those years. For example, the Tian Yi Ge had 70000 volumes and the Xi Gu Ge 84000 volumes. Unfortunately, war, damage and financial problems made the existence of these libraries very difficult in old China. Finally, all of them were taken over by the state.

There are few records about the management of imperial libraries, and yet the development of Chinese classification such as the Si Bu Fa (the Four Division Classification Scheme), the compilation of large encyclopaedia such as the Yong Le Da Dian, and national bibliographies such as the Si Ku Quan Shu in feudal China indicate certain success in managing these libraries.

Modern libraries in China began with the establishment of the first public library in Wuhan, Hubei Province and especially the founding of the Metropolitan Library, now the Beijing National Library, in 1910. The transition from traditional library functions to modern ones took place thereafter. The main trends during this period are as follows:

(1) The functions of the library were no longer merely for collecting and keeping but also for using books.

(2) Libraries were gradually used by everyone and not only by the privileged few.

(3) The collection of books on modern sciences and technology rather than the Chinese classics was stressed.

(4) Better service and satisfaction for users were required.

(5) Books were no longer classified by languages but by subjects.

(6) More attention was paid to the division of work and specialization as well as professional training in management.

The open shelf system was popular in many libraries. Book from catalogues were replaced by catalogue cards. Modern decimal classification, i.e. Dewey's scheme was introduced to replace the traditional Chinese Si Bu Fa, which was no longer suitable for modern scientific and technical literatures. Library science was also introduced into China and studied during this period. Many noted scholars and librarians made great contributions to the development of librarianship and library services in old China. For example, Professor LI Dazhao, one of the earliest propagators of Marxism- Leninism in China, was the former director of Beijing University Library from 1918 to 1922. He strongly advocated that the library should not be a book storage, but a place for research, and education; a librarian should not be a book keeper, but a researcher and instructor; the library should open to the laboring class free of charge. He took a lead in introducing open shelves in his library for the convenience of students. For this purpose, he changed shelving from traditional dictionary form, or alphabetical order into subject classification and organized catalogue cards of books in western languages by following Dewey's classification. He also paid great attention to statistics in order to improve the quality of service and satisfy the users needs.

Tile great contributions of the Beijing National Library to tile culture of modern China lies in its effort and success in collecting, preserving and sorting out Chinese classics, rare editions of ancient books and important documents, and in building a large collection of scientific and technical literatures in foreign languages, despite foreign aggression, civil wars, disasters and the corruption of previous governments. As for management during this period, it was mainly traditional.


Library services in new China have expanded rapidly in the last thirty years and a national network has been formed. Now, there are already about 20000 libraries of various types with more than 100000 staff. Take the public library and the university library as examples. By 1981, there were 1731 public libraries above county level with a staff of 19641 and 670 university libraries with a staff of 17000. Both types of libraries have total collections of about 190 million volumes. By comparison in 1956 there were only 96 public libraries above county level, with 3714 staff and 28-9 million volumes and 212 university libraries with 3568 staff and 37-28 million volumes. The Administrative Bureau for Library Services at the Ministry of Culture, a central agency for the planning and co-ordinating library development of all types, was set up in 1981 to suit the new situation brought about by the modernization drive in China. Furthermore, each type of library has a central unit for coordinating its activities, e.g. the Beijing National Library for public libraries. The Academy of Sciences Library for science libraries, and the Ministry of Education for university libraries. The expansion of library services in China demonstrates that libraries have played an important role in economic construction and education and are already an indispensable part of society. At the same time, Chinese librarians have gained some experience in library management and made some progress in the study of librarianship. For instance, the central authorities concerned have in the last two years sponsored a number of conferences, at which several working regulations have been formulated or revised respectively for public libraries, science libraries and university libraries in order to improve working efficiency and the quality of service. Another important event is the promulgation by the state Council in 1981 of “The Temporary Provisions of Professional Titles for Library, Archive and Information Personnel", which is of tremendous significance for improving personnel management and inspiring stair enthusiasm.

Standardization of documentation is the key link for library management. Since its founding in 1979, the National Documentation Standardization Technical Committee of China has done a lot in this field. It has sponsored several workshops in co-operation with the China Society of Library Science and the China Society of Scientific and Technical Information to examine "The National Standard Entries for Cataloguing" prepared by the Standardization Group of Beijing National Library, "The Abstract and Title-list Entry Formats for Retrieval journals" prepared by ISTIC, and suggest the use of “The Classification Scheme for Chinese Libraries" (including both the detailed version of the -Classification Scheme for Documents" and the simplified version) and of-The Chinese Thesaurus". This Committee also worked out-Tape Formats for Catalogue Information Exchange", -Name Codes for Nations and Regions", "Sex Codes for People”, “The Codes for Administrative Regions of PRC” and -The Standardized Codes of Chinese Characters for Information Exchange". The latter two, already Chinese National Standards, are being prepared for submission to ISO/TC97/SC2 for approval as international Standards.

Research in information methodology, and in the theory and practice of library science were started years ago. There is a Section for Information Methodology in ISTIC and 12 research groups under the China Society of Library Science including those for research in fundamental theory, bibliography, classification, cataloguing, reader service, staff training, rare and ancient books, standardization, information: services, children's library and foreign library work. Some progress has been made in recent years. Scientific management, efficiency. and economic results and the application of computers in libraries and information institutes are also receiving great attention and sonic initial successes have been achieved in these respects.

In summing up past experiences and lessons, library services in China have suffered setbacks twice during the last thirty years. One was in the years of so-called "Great Leap Forward", another in the "Cultural Revolution". Both were caused by the trend of neglecting scientific management as in industry and by the influence of a depressed economy as well. There is not a slightest doubt that scientific management in China is as important as in any other country. As everybody knows, the fact that the rapid advance of science and technology produces large amounts of documents, makes it more difficult for librarians to select, collect, process, store and report, and for users to access them quickly and precisely. Only scientific management and scientific methods in addition to modern facilities can solve this problem to some extent. The library itself is an integrated system consisting of different functional departments doing different jobs. The co-ordination and co-operation between departments and jobs, and the contact between the library and users are essential for a library to fulfil its social functions or to attain its objectives; and the library services or library undertaking in this country as a whole, including different types of libraries, also from an integrated system. Centralized planning with overall consideration for healthy development, rational geographic distribution, and effective cooperation among different or same types of libraries demands the introduction of scientific ways to analyse the needs and possibilities of the economic situation as important basis for allocating funds and facilities.

From a long term point of view, it is imperative for a nation like China with so large a territory and the biggest population in the world, to establish a retrieval network which includes data bases, communication systems and terminal facilities in order that a quick and precise service can be offered to users, as in the United Kingdom and the United States. This is the aim of the modernization of the Chinese library and information services. But first of all, they must be well managed. Without good management, any resource cannot be given full play, no matter how intelligent the staff, how advanced the facilities and how large the collections.

Owing to the fact that some Chinese librarians are fully aware of their weakness and the importance of scientific management in libraries, they have been vigorously committing themselves to the study of its theory and practice in recent years. A number of seminars have been held to discuss its definition and principles, especially in the Chinese situation. Here is a -definition of scientific management based on recent discussion. It is defined as "giving full play to manpower, material and financial resources in order to raise operational efficiency and the quality of services by applying the principles and methods of modern science and technology and observing the objective laws of librarianship, for the purpose of achieving optimum social results of services". This definition includes two concepts: efficiency and the social results of service. As a matter of fact the first one is the means and methods, the second is the objective of scientific management or the objective of library services. There is a controversy about the measurement of efficiency and social results. In fact, the measurement of efficiency is possible for most of library work, e.g. the repetitive and mechanical routines such as ordering, cataloguing, cards filing, binding, circulation and shelving. But social results are more difficult to measure. The satisfaction of users and the application of new technology or the improvement of education and culture in localities may be generally regarded as social results of library services. Cost and profit cannot generally be taken as criteria to measure the performance of libraries as they are for business, but these factors must be taken into consideration for good management.

As far as scientific management itself is concerned, this means good planning, rationalization and standardization of library work and documentation It also involves highly organized activities relating to administrative, professional, personnel and equipment management, such as planning, organizing, stalling, budgeting and directing.

Scientific management in Chinese libraries and information services is ideally characterized by the following principles.

(1) The Principle of Centralization and Unification

China is a country with a planned economy. The development of her industry, agriculture and all other public services is carried out in a planned way. Therefore, the expansion of library and information services in this country cannot go beyond the ability or remain behind the needs of her economy. It is necessary to give overall consideration to the priority and geographic distribution of different libraries in order to make the best use of limited resources such as funds, manpower and facilities, to organize a rational national network and technically to realize standardization and unification of library work and documentation such as classification, cataloguing and automation for sharing resources nation-wide.

(2) The Principle of Democracy

Staff and some users expect to be asked to speak their views or make suggestions in the process of policy making, decision making and planning. There are two ways to do so in practice. The authorities make the draft or outline of a plan first, and then consult staff and sometimes users. This way is called "From top to bottom". Otherwise, staff and sometimes users, are asked to discuss first. Then, the authorities concerned summarize their suggestions and ideas as a basis for drawing up their plan or making decision. This is called the "from bottom to top" method in policy making. Sometimes, these processes go through several times from top to bottom or from bottom to top before a decision is made if it is not urgent. Moreover, staff and users are encouraged to make complaints or suggestions at any time in the process of carrying out of a plan or a policy in order to correct unexpected errors and mistakes because of the changing situation or carelessness when making this plan and policy. Democratic management helps the authorities overcome subjectivism and bureaucracy and inspires staff enthusiasm, initiative and creativity because their personality and opinions are respected. In addition, problems can be found and solved in a timely way. Relations between management and stair are improved and the ties between library, users and society at large are thereby strengthened.

(3) The Principle of Economic Results

Unlike business, libraries are non-profit-making institutions. It is difficult to measure their economic results in the from of unit cost and profit. However, it is possible for libraries to use their funds as economically its possible, assign staff tasks as rationally as possible and utilize facilities as effectively as possible. It is also possible to establish a series of optimum systems fur literature collection, storage and service, and to formulate some rules and regulations that serve the needs of these systems with the aim of costing less money to get more documents that users need most, taking less people and time to process more documents and providing users with better service. The waste of human energy, money, time and material resources is incompatible with the principles of scientific management and must be lessened or totally avoided if possible.

(4) The System of Personal Responsibility

The social functions and relations of library with society were never so important as they are today. Society supports libraries, libraries serve society. The quality of library services directly affects both users and the whole of society. Conversely, social needs or users' needs also promote library services. Therefore, elaborate division of labour, and frequent contact and mutual dependence between departments are very important in order to offer a better service to society. Jobs in each department and in each link of an operation must be done well. That means that everyone must be sensible of his responsibility and get his or her job done on time, in the required quantity and quality. This responsibility system, like the one used in business provides standard to assess the performance of staff and the departments and enhances their sense of responsibility in work. A better management and service can thus be achieved in the end.

The above principles are general guides or aims to be sought for better management in library and information services. As for tire present situation so far, it is not quite the case yet. There are still a lot of things to do before reaching these aims.


In comparison with other countries, planning and management in Chinese library services do have some strong points, but on the whole, the managerial level is relatively low as it is in industry and for the same reasons. Some. factors which affect the efficiency of library services should be improved in order to serve the information and education needs of this country and at the same time modernized library services themselves.

(1) Geographic Distribution

For historical reasons, there are more libraries providing better services in big cities and economically developed areas than that in rural and remote areas. It is incredible that some counties even have no library services at all. Irrational distribution of libraries is of course a common problem in many other countries, and it was riot so urgent to solve this problem some years back in China because the needs for information and education in rural and remote areas were very small. Things are quite different nowadays. The new economic policies for industry and especially for agriculture, stimulate economic development in these areas. People are becoming well off and want to learn. Small rural factories need information for technical transformation and innovation in order to increase the quantity and improve the quality of products or change the line of their products to some which may be more profitable. Peasants need information and knowledge for scientific farming. Scientific and technical books and other materials are in great demand and hard to get in many rural areas. People call this situation "science fever" which could riot be seen before. It is reported that many peasants invited experts from their neighbouring areas or professors from colleges to transfer technology, or attended technical seminars and "technical fairs" themselves sponsored by local authorities. From a long term viewpoint, perhaps, the more effective and economical way to satisfy the information and education needs in rural areas is to improve library services. The general accepted LA standards for the provision of branch libraries are that: a population of under 1500 in a catchment area is usually better served by a mobile library; an isolated population of over 1500 normally needs a trailer library, sub-branch or branch library; in urban areas a branch should be provided in each major shopping centre. China is unable to reach these standards at present, but can do her best to improve the county central library service and at the same time to provide branch libraries in most districts and sub-branches, or mobile libraries or reading rooms of some sort at some town level grass roots. Agriculture is of vital importance in China's economy, arid about 80% of her population are peasants living in rural areas. No one in China can afford to neglect their demand if he wishes to see agriculture well developed and enough food to feed the 1000 million people or to tap the resources in remote areas. The provision of library services must be taken into consideration by the local leadership in those areas where there are still no such services, when planning overall development in their localities. The central library authorities, on the other hand should urge the local authorities to give enough financial arid manpower support to the establishment of library services.

(2) Regional CO-operation

Organizationally, China has already had a national library network consisting of different types of libraries. The problem is that these libraries lack close cooperation with information services, between different or even similar types of libraries, especially on a regional scale. The tasks of information services in China's situation differ from that of library services in some respects, and each type of library has its own tasks and objectives. However, their co-operation on a regional scale is very important to improve the. efficiency arid quality of services and to utilize resources in a more economical way. The United Kingdom arid some other countries have set some examples in library cooperation. Their experience is helpful for China in projecting regional networks and co-operation with Beijing National Library and ISTIC as backups like the British Library's position and functions in Britain. Regional co-operation including acquisition, cataloguing, staff training and resources sharing between libraries and information services would be organized, with provincial arid county public libraries arid local information institutes as centres. Some libraries, for instance university libraries, may have their own co-operation, like those in Changsha, Hunan Province in recent years. It should be emphasized that for a country with the biggest population in the world, regional and local networks arid co-operation in China are more important than in any other countries. Users should first rely, on their local libraries, then central libraries in this region. National centres are the last resort. Therefore, the collection of regional central libraries should be relatively large and comprehensive according to local conditions and needs, and regional union catalogues containing holdings of the participating libraries should be prepared for this purpose. and for avoiding duplication of labour. Regional co-operation is the infrastructure of national co-operation and the basis of library modernization. China should exert much effort in the establishment of regional co-operation in order to make the best use of her resources and to modernize her library services.

(3) National Referral Services

On the basis of regional library co-operation and regional information networks which already exist, two national referral centres should be established according to the actual existing situation: one mainly for monographs on social sciences and natural sciences as well in the Beijing National Library and one mainly for scientific and technical serials in ISTIC in order to improve the exploitation of existing resources nationwide. In doing that, the preparation of the national bibliography, catalogues of different types of literature and regional union catalogues should be hastened. Abstracts and indexes, other retrieval and reference books and directories published at home and abroad should be collected as comprehensively, as possible. At present, referral services are offered only, by. mail or by personal visits. It is quite possible technically and economically, now for China to carry out these services by, direct telephone and ISTI links with big libraries and local information institutes. When conditions are ripe, these two centres will be national data bases for automatic retrieval equipped with computers linked through telecommunication systems with terminals all over the country. It is recommended that the centre in ISTIC also provide a business information service for the needs of foreign trade and economic cooperation with foreign companies. Local information centres should provide local product arid market information. For tins purpose, market research reports, company cards, trade and professional directories, trade and business journals from major developed countries and business publications published at home should be collected, and specialists for guiding the use of these publications should be trained.

(4) Open Access and Opening Hours

Because of management problem and the fear of the loss of books, open access is still not popular in most libraries and information institutes except for periodicals, newspapers and children's books. Experiences have repeatedly proved that open access is the best way to facilitate users' needs and exploit literature resources. Rare books, valuable editions and manuscripts and some other materials are not suitable for open shelves. Open access to standard materials, patent literature and trade literature has been carried out in ISTIC libraries in recent years. Monographs and technical proceedings, research reports in big libraries such as Beijing National Library and ISTIC are difficult for open access, because the shelving is arranged by accession numbers or serial numbers, riot by subjects for saving the trouble of reshelving resulting from the huge daily intake of publications. Nevertheless, this call be done in medium and small size libraries, especially ill university libraries, school libraries and local public libraries.

As for opening hours, the internationally accepted standards for urban main libraries are 60 hours per week; for branch libraries 18-60 hours per week. Urban libraries and information institute libraries in China open only eight hours a day, 48 hours per week. No services are available on Sundays and national holidays. Children's libraries arid rural libraries usually open on Sundays. It is recommended that science libraries and urban public libraries with science open 10 hours a day, 60 hours per week. Opening hours for information documentation centres and university libraries may be longer depending on the users' real needs, and if' possible, board and accommodation should be provided for those who cannot get home on the day of a visit.
ISTIC Chongqing Branch Library has offered this service for several years. Other libraries should do the same if necessary and conditions permit.

(5) Publicily and Users' Survey

Besides reporting Journals, exhibitions arid lectures, guides and pamphlets about each kind of service and how to gain access to them and other information should be published in libraries and information centres. This is not only for the convenience of the users, but would also save much trouble for the staff and as a result, would save time for both users and stall'. Publicity relating to user service is a weak point ill Chinese library arid information services. Most libraries do not even have a sheet of printed material for presentation to users and foreign visitors. Compare this with some other countries where libraries, even smaller ones, provide various types of pamphlets free of charge explaining their services and holdings. The results are good. Users feel quite at home, especially fresh visitors and timid users who are not confident about what to do. Publicity is very important in user services arid each library should have someone in charge of this work.

Surveys and investigations on users' needs and the level of satisfaction by existing services should be carried out regularly by specialists ill order to improve the quality of services. Little has been done about this to date in most Chinese libraries and information centres. This kind of survey is very necessary and should he done by various means such as telephone, questionnaires, individual correspondence or even personal interview.

When this is done, library policies and plans will be built on a more realistic foundation. Better services can then be achieved.

(6) Library Education

The fact that China lacks qualified librarians is serious, especially in local libraries. This situation can perhaps be illustrated by the following statistics. Among 100000 library staff in 20000 libraries, only 3000 graduates were from the Departments of Library Science of Beijing University and Wuhan University and another 1500 persons had received correspondence courses by the end of 1980 since 1949. This figure accounts for a very small proportion of the total staff, not more than 5% on the average even in university and science libraries and public libraries above provincial level. Eighty-one percent of the stair began working in libraries just during or after the "Cultural Revolution" (1966-76). Eighty percent among them only had middle school education. On the other hand, quite a few technicians and research workers do not quite know how to use the library to search for documents. Of course, many staff can become professionals by training and working practice, and users get familiar with the use of the library by frequent visits or by the guidance of the staff. However, the lack of systematic library education and training for the stair would inevitably affect the efficiency of operation and the quality of services and for the users, the effective search for useful documents and literatures or other materials for the purpose of reference and education or entertainment.

Happily, the central authorities have done something to change this situation in recent years. For example, there are already 19 universities and colleges having departments or specialities of library and archive studies. Wuhan University even has a speciality of information science in the Department of Library Science. Correspondence courses continue to be given to some stair. On-the-job and off-the-job training in Beijing National Library, ISTIC and other big libraries has been continuous except during the. years of "Cultural Revolution". The guide for users was improved recently. This is really encouraging, but not enough for a country like China with so many libraries and staff. A radical solution to this problem would be to enhance library education. It is recommended firstly that one or two colleges of library and information science be set up for undergraduates as well as postgraduates to do research in order to supply libraries and information institutes with qualified librarians and staff and to raise the academic level of librarianship and information science. Secondly, all college and university undergraduates, science undergraduates in particular, should be given library and courses in order to make them ready to use library and information services when they become users, especially after graduation.

(7) Personnel Management

For librarians and library stair, as part of the Chinese intellectual stratum, their social position was low, and their labour was not fully understood by society sometimes in the past. Things are getting much better now, their contributions to society are generally acknowledged and appreciated by both people and government. However, present personnel management is not conducive to bringing stair initiative and creativity into full play. Most stair are not quite satisfied with the existing cadre system, promotion and salary systems. For example, officially there are four conditions for stair promotion and salary increment: education, length of service and experience, professional ability and contribution or performance. Generally speaking, it sounds good. In fact it is very complicated to implement. Most leaders used to emphasize the second one, i.e. the length of service and experience, because it is easy to measure and saves labour and argument. This "iron rice bowl" (job security) and "big pot rice" (equalitarianism) system are accepted by many people because the assessment system for stair performance is far from perfect. For quite a long time, “be red and expert" was supposed to be the lofty realm of accomplishment and the only standard for a perfect librarian, as for other intellectuals. Actually, "be red" was always overemphasized and distorted while "be expert” neglected or even criticized. Today, this slogan is given some new meanings and some more concrete standards are adopted for evaluating the performance of stair.

Following the reform in economic areas, a reform is about to be carried in libraries and information institutes. In the context of library and information services, this reform should, firstly, change step by step the life-tenure system of leadership into an election system, at least partly, so that more younger professionals may have the opportunity to play their parts and make their contributions in management positions. Non-professionals and aged leaders should conscientiously give up their posts to younger ones for the interest of the country. Secondly, the state assignment system should, at least partly, be replaced by a recruitment system so that the quality of staff can be controlled. Their specialities can thus be matched to the job and more willingness they will give to their assignments thereby. Thirdly, working regulations and the personnel assessment system should be improved and perfected. For instance, the following factors should be considered in personnel assessment: professional knowledge, professional skill, managerial ability, working attitude, service quality and achievement. Quality of service and achievement or working results would be always put into first place so as to encourage people to work hard and learn well. This assessment should be done in some cases by examinations, or by colleague appraisal with reference to work records. The appraisal of the leading person which in most cases is crucial and decisive should be. as fair and impartial as possible without personal prejudice and discrimination. Proper material and spiritual reward is necessary for those who have good performances. When this is done, staff enthusiasm will be inspired and no or less complaints will be found then.

(8) A Library Act

Many countries in the world have formulated library acts and practised them for many years. China does not yet have one. The history of library development has proved that it library act is very necessary and important for the healthy development and the perfection of library services. China should by all means have a library act to stipulate legislatively the principles, social functions, financial sources, scope of activities and the forms of services of libraries; the natures and functions of the library committee and the system of leadership and administration and their tasks so that library position and development can be guaranteed by law. For instance, library services in China were always the first ones to have their funds cut and the last ones to have their funds increased in the past. Some local governments never allocate enough funds for local libraries. This situation would not have happened if there had been a library act, or at least things would not have been so bad.

The implementation of a library act, on the other hand, reflects government concern about people's welfare and their rights to enjoy education and entertainment. It also reflects the level of the development of library services of a country.


China is very aware of her current weaknesses in management both in industry and in library and information services. The existing management systems do not quite fit the new Situation created by the modernization drive. The current reform of economic systems and technical transformation, the new economic policies at home and the open-door policies towards the outside world require it reform in management systems and a lot of managers with both theoretical background and practical experience of management. Just for this end, 1-6 out of 7 million leading cadres, managers and technicians in industrial and communication departments have received management training during the past three years, which includes economic policies, basic economic theories and fundamental techniques of business management. In addition, the China Society of Management was set up, the Journal of Management has appeared and a number of academic conferences on management were held during the same period. Considerable attention is also being devoted to foreign management techniques. While sending some people to study abroad, an industrial, scientific and technical training centre was jointly inaugurated in 1980 by China and the United States in Dalian, Northeast China. Many leading cadres of libraries and information institutes have been trained at this centre. These training programmes will help library and information services improve management techniques, raise the quality of service to society, and provide a major impetus to the modernization of library and information services as well as to the nation.


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