U-Pustaka: The Malaysian Ubiquitous Library Pilot Project ( U-Pustaka)

A. Problem Analysis

 1. What was the problem before the implementation of the initiative?
In creating a knowledge-based society and setting our nation on the path towards a knowledge-based economy, Malaysia has its own foundation. The Knowledge-Based Economy Master Plan 2002 which laid down the strategies to move the nation from a Production-based economy (P-economy) to a Knowledge-based economy (K-economy), had listed 7 strategic thrusts for the transition. The third strategic thrust in that Master Plan had direct implications to the system for accessing and delivering information. The thrust called for incentives, infrastructure and infostructure necessary for the optimal application of knowledge in all sectors of the economy’ to be in place. With this mandate, the U-Library project began to take root. The move towards a ubiquitous library began to take shape in Malaysia after looking at many good examples of digital library initiative, worldwide. The foundation upon which this project was ultimately conceptualised was elaborated in recommendation 54 of the Knowledge-Based Economy Master Plan which says, ‘Review and enhance the role and contributions of museums, libraries and think-tanks in lifelong learning’. Elaborating further, it recommends that ‘institutions in society – libraries, museums, think tank organizations, research centres and consultancies can also provide resources for learning and should be made more accessible to the majority of citizens.’ Together with the Malaysian Communication and Multimedia Commission (MCMC), National Library of Malaysia took a lead role in implementing the ubiquitous library project at the national level with the strong support from the government, particularly the Ministry of Tourism & Culture, Malaysia. Under the National Broadband Plan, the mandate was given to work on the two areas of broadband take up which is supply and demand. On the demand side, the realisation came that one area that hitherto unexplored was the rich intellectual content that is sitting in Malaysian libraries that have Internet access. Unlocking that content and making it accessible to every home across the nation will literally open up massive amount of content. Thus it is justifiable to include the clause “leverage the development of traditional information resource” to create attractiveness for broadband take up. Under “Bridging the Digital Divide Programme”, Economic Planning Unit (EPU), Prime Minister’s Department has approved the proposal to implement a pilot project construction of the infrastructure and infostructure based broadband 7 library known as u-Library in early 2009. This pilot project includes system development and integration, hardware procurement and preparation documentation as well as training and involves the development of broadband infrastructure connect 8 libraries for access to u-Library portal. In addition, portal development is also one of the public sector content can help increase the attractiveness of the user to use the service bandwidth. Major problems and issues that needed to be addressed: a) Lack of ICT facilities at the consortium libraries whereby they need to add more the facilities. Besides, more book drops and multipurpose kiosks are required. b) No centralized system and storage to store, manage and provide access the Malaysiana e-resources. Malaysiana e-resources scattered all over the country and the digitization activities were done by each libraries/institutions in Malaysia at their own effort. c) Some libraries are not willing to participate as a consortium member of u-Pustaka service due to their lack of facilities maintenance to be done on a regular basis such as library management system, different policies, budgeting and many else. d) Lack of money allocated for widespread use of u-Pustaka service across the country and at the national level. Social groups affected: All Malaysians, without taking into consideration their gender, races, ages and socio-economic status. In what ways this social group of people affected? u-Pustaka is an online, digital library service, provided solely for the benefit of all Malaysians because they have the rights to obtain access to sources of knowledge and information provided by the library.

B. Strategic Approach

 2. What was the solution?
u-Pustaka is an innovation and a fitting culmination of the effort, collaboration and synergy invested by the Ministry of Tourism and Culture Malaysia (KPKK) through Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC) and the National Library of Malaysia (NLM), together with the support of the other u-Pustaka Consortium members, namely, the Selangor State Library Corporation (PPAS), Negeri Sembilan State Library Corporation (PPANS), Pahang State Library Corporation (PPAP), Sarawak State Library (Pustaka), Kuala Lumpur Library (PKL), INTAN Library at Bukit Kiara and Sabah State Library. Other government agencies and private institutions also contributed towards the success of the project by offering advice, guidance and sharing their expertise during its implementation. They are the Malaysian Administrative Modernisation and Management Planning Unit (MAMPU), Economic Planning Unit (EPU), National Registration Department, Ministry of Home Affairs(JPN), National Centre of Excellence for Sensor Technology (NEST), Universiti Putra Malaysia, Pos Malaysia Berhad (PMB), Malaysian Electronic Clearing Corporation Sdn. Bhd. (MyClear), Bank Islam Malaysia Berhad and Touch 'n Go Sdn Bhd. Hence, the project aims to serve the public by delivering innovative library services into every household anytime and anywhere via the usage of broadband and other state-of-the-art technology. In this context, the objectives of the u-Pustaka project are as follows: (a) Making information accessible with the widening of broadband service, RFID technology, portal technology and content. (b) Establishing a library network ecosystem to foster collaboration through inter-lending service, delivery service, e-payment service and virtual access to web publishing, content management and collaboration in expanding our capacities to innovate and create knowledge for the dividend of the nation. (c) Creating, sharing and exchanging knowledge to keep communities connected and promote lifelong learning.

 3. How did the initiative solve the problem and improve people’s lives?
The U-Pustaka project is unique, creative and innovative because it involves the integration of 7 major components such as broadband, the portal of u-Pustaka, the integration of library management system of participating consortium libraries, RFID integration, access to local content, cashless payment, and delivery channel. The U-Pustaka Portal (www.u-pustaka.gov.my) was developed to make borderless library service a reality. Under this project lending facilities is extended including services where books will be delivered to pick up from their respective house/office by the national courier service. “Book Drops” are also provided at all U-Pustaka consortium members’ library and their branches. Besides that, users are also to access born digital or digitized local content in the portal. The U-Pustaka fosters an engaging lifelong learning experience for the people through the provision of web publishing, collaboration, content management and inter-lending services components. The U-Pustaka pilot project is a “touch point” for the government to develop a knowledge society towards realizing “Vision 2020”. This service is also in line with the 1Malaysia government aspiration “People First, Performance Now” where everyone in Malaysia is able to use library services such as borrowing of books, reference services, participate in programmes and activities, network with others, share knowledge and experience “anytime, anywhere and by anyone”.

C. Execution and Implementation

 4. In which ways is the initiative creative and innovative?
The u-Pustaka project was approved by Integrated Content Development Task Force (ICON) in 24th September 2008. U-Pustaka is a collaborative effort for national digital library initiative which also involves many strategic partners and participating consortium libraries. From 2009 until 2010, the u-Pustaka system and portal have been developed over the two years. Once fully developed, this project through the integration and trial process. In the early 2011, the trial of u-Pustaka system has been done in order to analyse the project it is. On 30th March 2011, u-Pustaka service was officially made accessible to the public. The u-Pustaka project will be roll out to the eight other State Public Library in Malaysia in stages starting from 2014 to 2018.

 5. Who implemented the initiative and what is the size of the population affected by this initiative?
U-Pustaka is a national project which involves many strategic partners as below: Name of institution Involvement / Role as National Library of Malaysia Consortium library & act as a leader of u-Pustaka (partnership with MCMC) Sarawak State Library Consortium library Sabah State Library Consortium library Library of Kuala Lumpur Consortium library INTAN Library Consortium library Negeri Sembilan State Library Consortium library Selangor State Library Consortium library Pahang State Library Consortium library MyClear e-payment strategic partners Bank Islam e-payment strategic partners MAMPU Government Agency Tech Innovasi Sdn Bhd Technology Partner Telekom Malaysia Broadband provider National Registration Department Government Agency Ministry of Tourism & Culture Government supportive agency MCMC Partner in leadership for u-Pustaka Touch N Go e-Payment Partner Pos Malaysia (Pos laju) Delivery/Courier channel partner
 6. How was the strategy implemented and what resources were mobilized?
U-Pustaka project has received financial support from the Malaysian government. The government has invested about RM 13.4 million so far to implement this project. It involves the development of the U-Pustaka modules/system, U-Portal, LMS integration, RFID integration, provision of hardware and software.

 7. Who were the stakeholders involved in the design of the initiative and in its implementation?
a) Membership of u-Pustaka has now reached 332,061 members until 31st November 2013. The membership record had recorded the youngest member as a 3 months old baby and the oldest member is 90 years old. The highest category of members is adult followed by teenager and children. b) Total of visitors (u-Pustaka portal) is 309,483 visitors on 30th November 2013. c) Since 30th March 2011 until 27th April 2013, a total of 6,701 books were borrowed through online by users. The users can either come to the library to borrow the books they have requested or they can use the national courier service to send the books to their home. d) The mode of cashless payment is more popularly used by users to pay the U-Pustaka service which include MEPS, e-Debit, MEPS FPX, Touch N Go and Quick 2Go. e) Circulation transaction has increased each year. As at 17th May 2013, 2,040 circulation transactions which include borrowing, renewal and returns of books were recorded.

 8. What were the most successful outputs and why was the initiative effective?
The u-Pustaka Services progress are being monitored closely by management through meetings such as ICT Steering Committee Meeting, u-Pustaka Management Meeting with u-Pustaka Consortium Library, u-Pustaka Management Meeting with u-Pustaka ICT Strategic Partners, u-Pustaka Steering Committee Meeting (twice a year) and u-Pustaka Implementation Committee Meeting (quarterly per year). The statistics collected are analysed every month in order to monitor the achievement of u-Pustaka services. The reports are generated from the Business Intelligence System (u-Pustaka Portal and system administration) to evaluate the achievements and activities held.

 9. What were the main obstacles encountered and how were they overcome?
The main obstacles faced by u-Pustaka were as follows: a) This project needs additional budget to place u-Pustaka services widely throughout the country. There are eight (8) state libraries that need to get involved in u-Pustaka as new consortium members for the moment. About RM1.5 million is needed per each library in order for the library to be a consortium member for the u-Pustaka. b) Difficulty to integrate all the systems into the u-Pustaka. Among the systems that need to be integrated with u-Pustaka are Library Management System, RFID system, National Union Catalogue, u-Pustaka portal, e-payment system, and national courier service. c) Constraint of budget which is needed for the maintenance of u-Pustaka. The u-Pustaka system has to make sure that the system runs smoothly without any problem every day (24/7). The component of maintenance will include the hardware replacement, software updating, networking facilities and others.

D. Impact and Sustainability

 10. What were the key benefits resulting from this initiative?
Since u-Pustaka is a ubiquitous virtual library, fast, efficient and reliable service delivery to members of the public is paramount. The portal is made-up of four major components namely the inter-lending services, web publishing, content management and collaboration. A lot of thoughts have been given in designing the system so as to empower the public to borrow and return books from any of the 8 member libraries easily and at their convenience. Members can have a choice of having books delivered right to their doorsteps, return books at the nearest participating library, participate in online learning and knowledge sharing at anytime of the day and night as transactions are carried out 24x7 via the portal. One of the unique features of u-Pustaka is the inter-lending services where the lending collection of 8 participating libraries is made available to u-Pustaka members. In a nutshell the process to borrow and return books are as follows: a) Users can sign up to be a member via the u-Pustaka Portal. Membership is free of charge. b) They can then search for a book or read reviews to help them find a book they like c) Availability of the book from participating consortium members and their status indicating whether it can be borrowed will be shown. d) Members can borrow the book and choose a delivery option of whether to have it posted by postal or courier service through Pos Malaysia. e) They can then make payments either through Malaysian Electric Payment System (MEPS) or Touch ‘n Go. f) Books can be returned via u-Pustaka book drops at the participating libraries or members can opt for courier service whereby the books could be picked up from their homes. The u-Pustaka Consortium brings knowledge to life via the web publishing components by publishing background information, media releases, speeches, information and policies, fact sheets, statistics, top best sellers, links, RSS and electronic resources among others. The content management components provides information to cater specifically for u-Pustaka Members in the form of e-Reviews, e-resources, audio books and dashboard for three segments of membership (adult, youth and children). The collaboration components acts as a platform for social networking, knowledge exploration and knowledge sharing through features such as Chat with Your Expert, Discussion Forum and Ask u-Pustaka. As the tag line “Think Knowledge,Think u-Pustaka” implies, a wealth of information and knowledge awaits seekers of knowledge everywhere, beckoning them to visit the u-Pustaka Portal which can be accessed from anywhere and at anytime via the Internet. u-Pustaka has won 3 awards at national and international level such as MSC APICTA 2011 on the 25th October 2011 for the Best of e-Inclusion & e-Community, FutureGov Malaysia 2013 on the 5th March 2013 and TELDAP International Conference (2nd Place for Best Poster Award), in Taiwan.

 11. Did the initiative improve integrity and/or accountability in public service? (If applicable)
U-Pustaka project was handed over to the National Library by MCMC through the Communication Sector, Ministry of Information & Culture Malaysia starting from 1st January 2013. u-Pustaka project should be sustained as the u-Pustaka services should be widely spread nationwide. We have many plans u-Pustaka in the near future, such as providing the mobile applications for u-Pustaka, strengthening the existing modules and system of u-Pustaka, building a system to manage the Malaysiana e-resources, etc.

 12. Were special measures put in place to ensure that the initiative benefits women and girls and improves the situation of the poorest and most vulnerable? (If applicable)
Since its launching on 31 March 2011, public response to the project has been positive and as at 17 October 2012, 332,872 people have already registered as u-Pustaka members. The portal has been visited by 164,813 users from 104 countries from as far as the United States, Australia, the United Kingdom, Germany, Russia, Brazil and Saudi Arabia while here have been 11,000 transactions involving books borrowed via inter-lending. The statistical numbers are expected to increase with many more publicity, promotional activities and user awareness programs scheduled in the pipeline. The u-Pustaka pilot project involve the participation of only 8 libraries, a very small number out of over 12,000 public, village, academic, school and special libraries in Malaysia. In the quest to be truly ubiquitous, the u-Pustaka services have to be extended with the inclusion and participation of many more libraries in the country. Harnessing the synergy of all these libraries is crucial for u-Pustaka to be successful and realise its vision of a Malaysian knowledge-based society engaged in the pursuit of lifelong learning anytime, anywhere as well as continuous enhancements to their quality of work and life for the betterment of society and the nation. The lesson learned is that we need to monitor the progress and achievement of u-Pustaka regularly. All the libraries in Malaysia need to support and participate in this u-Pustaka project as well as promote this initiative throughout the nation and the world.

Contact Information

Institution Type:   Government Agency  
Contact Person:   RASLIN ABU BAKAR
Title:   DATO’  
Telephone/ Fax:   603-26871700 / 26871901 / 26871764
Institution's / Project's Website:  
E-mail:   raslin@pnm.gov.my  
Address:   232 JALAN TUN RAZAK,
Postal Code:   50572
State/Province:   KUALA LUMPUR

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