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.