Visiting Indonesian Librarians Value the Libraries’ Special Collections

On November 25, 2012, two librarians from Sriwijaya University in Indonesia arrived in Ohio to begin their twelve-day exploration of Ohio universities. Dr. Majelis, head of the library of the graduate program, and Dr. Halim Sobri, head of the library of the undergraduate program, spent the majority of their time in Athens, discovering the structural and research advancements in Ohio University Libraries.

“The Southeast Asia collection amazed me.” Majelis said. For the students at Sriwijaya University, Majelis can see the “benefit of being able to use the resources of the Southeast Asia collection, because in their research, sometimes they cannot find certain books even if it is published in Indonesia.”

Sriwijaya University has multiple disciplinary programs and is divided into two regional campuses, each having a library. Students from both campuses come to the main campus, in the town of Palembang, to use the library. But one issue limits their access.

(From left) Dr. Halim Sobri and Dr. Majelis from Sriwjaya University in South Sumatra, Indonesia, look at the Indonesian political poster exhibit on the third floor of Alden Library on December 5, 2012. (Photo by Kate Munsch/Ohio University Libraries)

“You know what I envy? Their operation time – the length of operation hours,” Majelis said in reference to Ohio University Libraries’ hours. “We could not do that in Indonesia right now.”

Majelis believes that extending the hours that the library is open in Sriwijaya University Libraries will attract more students. For Majelis, students should be able to come into town and not worry about catching a bus back to their periphery campus. Extending the library’s hours of operation could create a hospitable learning environment similar to Ohio University Libraries, a goal Majelis and Sobri aim to act on with Sriwijaya University’s administrators.

“I believe that they expect us to get something out of this visit,” Majelis said referring to the administrators. “Of course we are going to write a proposal to challenge them to provide students with better library services and anything that is beneficial for the university.”

Majelis hopes that in the future, more Sriwijaya University students and faculty can travel to Ohio University’s Athens campus to utilize the Libraries’ special collections. According to Majelis, it would be especially useful in broadening the horizons of Sriwijaya University lecturers.

“It will be better for the president to send them here like they sent us — to see how the students are managed, how the libraries are managed,” Majelis said. “The attitudes of the lecturers, you know, they change after they see what’s happening here. Here they are very cooperative and very understanding, which cannot be found, sometimes, in Indonesia.”

By the end of their visit, Majelis and Sobri realized the scope of what the Ohio University Libraries has to offer, both in resources and administrative techniques.