66th IFLA Council and General
Jerusalem, Israel, 13-18 August
Code Number: 052-099(WS)-E
Division Number: VII
Professional Group: Library Theory and Research: Workshop
Joint Meeting with: -
Meeting Number: 99
Simultaneous Interpretation: No
From theory to practice: a case of research in library and information
science in Thailand
Sukothai Thammathirat Open University
The author outlines the background of research in library and information
science in Thailand. Reasons for its minor role and impact are
summarized. Collaboration between theory and practice in library and
information science, in the case of STOU, is presented as evidence - based
Research in library and information science in Thailand had a long history
before the offering of library education in the country. In the past,
historical research works were conducted. The prominent ones which are
still valuable reference sources are about the history of the National
Library by Somdej Krom Phraya Damrong Rajanuparb (1916) and the Vajiranana
National Library of Siam by George Coedes (1924).
After the establishment of the Department of Library Science in the
Faculty of Arts, Chulalongkorn University in 1955, a two year diploma
program in library science was offered to those who graduated with a
bachelor degree in any field. In almost all courses for the diploma,
students had to write term papers using research techniques. As many of
the papers were valuable, the Department of Library Science selected and
published those which were useful to library work and library education,
including papers of faculty members, as a "Library Science Papers Series"
which was started in 1965. The first book of this series was "Frances
Lander Spain: Founder of Modern Library Service in Thailand" (1965) by Professor Suthilak Ambhanwong, the then Head Department of Library Science.
The first masters degree program in library science was offered at
Chulalongkorn University in 1964 and was an important step towards
research in library science in Thailand. Writing a thesis was a
requirement for partial fulfilment of the masters degree in Arts majoring
in library science. This two year program required 34 credits for course
work (24 credits required courses and 5 credit elective courses) and 26
credits for thesis. In the academic year 1973, the Department revised the
curriculum. The total credits were 48, with 30 credits for course work
(16 credits required courses and 14 credits elective courses) and 18
credits for thesis. Between the academic years 1977 and 1984, the number
thesis credits was lessened to 9 credits with more course work required.
II. Impact of research in library and information science in
The number of theses in library science in Thailand showed an increasing
trend as more library schools offered masters degree programs in library
and information science. Besides theses, there were also research works in
library and information science conducted by librarians and faculty members.
Many research works conducted about library and information science in
Thailand showed that research in library and information science in
Thailand had a minor role and impact on academics, professionals and
society. The reasons can be summarized as follows:
- Research topics
The small number of research works consisted mainly of theses of graduate
students. Usually they followed the same practice in areas of study and
Research topics were not relevant to the needs of the users. They were
not oriented to practice and some were too idealistic. This was supported
by Srirat Wattana (1982) whose research work showed the reasons that
faculty members did not use research in library and information science
were because the research results were no different from their
common-sense and that research topics, research objectives and methodology
should be considered in this matter.
- Dissemination of research results
Dissemination of research results was a major obstacle in putting research
into practice (Chitra Tubsaeng 1975; Srirat Wattana 1982 ; Yupadee Charusub
1984 ; Chutima Sacchanand 1994; Sukhothai Thammathirat Open University
Problems in dissemination of research results can be summarized as follows:
- Dissemination of research was limited to library professionals and
- Research results were scattered and nobody was responsible for
- The institutions which collected the research were far away and
usually did not allow borrowing outside.
- Abstracts of theses and research were not completed and not up-to-date.
- Users were not informed about research relevant to them.
- Recognition of the importance of research
It was found that library administrators did not use research works in
library science. One
reason was that they did not consider it important (Yupadee Charusub
1984). The seminar conducted by Chulalongkorn University (1985),
reported that library administrators did not read research and were not
interested in suggestions from research works because they were usually
compromising and did not lead to real problem - solving. The causes were
due to these major factors:
- Research problems/questions were not significant because the
researchers selected the problems that interested only themselves, about
their own libraries/institutions, and were not the real problems of the
profession or the library community.
- The quality of some research works was still questionable because the
research methodology, data analysis, conclusions and recommendations in
some research works were very simplistic.
- Library professionals, including librarians, faculty members, and
students lacked the ability to recognize the value of research and they
were not equipped with knowledge and competencies in research.
III. Collaboration between theory and practice in library and
information science: The case of Sukhothai Thammathirat Open University
STOU is the eleventh public university and the first truly distance
teaching university in Thailand and in ASEAN. Through the School of
Liberal Arts, STOU has offered the Bachelor of Arts in Information
Science, a two-year and a four-year program since 1991. It is also in the
university's plan that the masters degree program in information science,
majoring in information management, will be offered in the year 2002.
STOU has supported many research projects undertaken by faculty members
and staff. Following the "STOU Plan," the first stage in the
development of the distance teaching system in information science involved
identifying the educational needs of the market through preliminary surveys
and research. This needs assessment enabled STOU to know the needs of
various target groups : librarians and other information
professionals/personnel, including administrators of various types of
library and information services/institutions. This formed a basis for
curriculum design and development. Many research works have been conducted
and used at various stages of planning and implementing STOU information
science programs. The researchers who are STOU information science faculty
members recognized the importance of research, the need to conduct research
and to disseminate and use research results.
Before starting the information science undergraduate program via the
distance education system which was to be a first for Thailand, Sompit
Cusripitack (1978) conducted research to survey the needs of library and
information services and professionals in Thailand. It was found that the
majority of library/information service heads had no background in library
and information science (88.00%). They supported offering of an education
and training program in library and information science.
At the masters level as well, Chutima Sacchanand and Sukanya
Teerapongpakdee (1995) undertook a survey of the educational needs and the
feasibility of offering an information science master's degree program at
School of Liberal Arts, Sukhothai Thammathirat Open University. It was
found that a significant number of the information officers surveyed
(61.32%) wanted to study at the post-graduate level. This need for
information officers would increase by 30.32% and continue to increase
Both administrators (45.21%) and information officers (47.43%) wanted the
Information Science curriculum to emphasize theoretical and practical
applications. The majority of the administrators wanted the information
officers to obtain knowledge and skills in the following areas: information
storage and retrieval, technology for managing information, and
communication skills in information work.
The STOU School of Liberal Arts was well prepared in all aspects to offer
a master's degree program in Information Science. The School would also be
able to meet all the standards fixed by the Ministry of University Affairs.
In calculating the expenses for the first group of students, an enrolment
of 105 students was required to meet the break-even point. That number
would be reduced to 62 students in the second year and 48 students in the
third year. Using these enrolment figures, tuition was expected to be
1,000 baht per credit. To break even in the third year, the School of
Liberal Arts would need at least qualified lecturers to obtain a ratio of
one lecturer to every five students (1 : 5) which was the standard required
by the Ministry of University Affairs. Research results of this study were
an important basis for the School of Liberal Arts, STOU in planning the
masters degree program, especially curriculum development, staff
development and cost management.
Chutima Sacchanand (1996) also studied the development and status of graduate studies programs in library and information science in Thailand. This res
earch has been used as a guideline for STOU in planning and implementing
the masters degree program. It was found that the first graduate studies
program in library and information science in Thailand was offered at
Chulalongkorn University in 1964 and at the time studied, there were eight
library schools offering masters degrees in library and information science.
The development of graduate studies programs in library and information
science has played an important role and has affected the academic
strength, research, professional standards, image and status of this
profession as a whole. All graduate library schools have relatively
similar administrative and organizational structures. The objectives of
these programs are to produce professional leaders, administrators and
scholars. The curriculum structure and number of required credit hours are
relatively similar and the number of credit hours ranges from 36 to 48.
All graduate library schools have been prepared with staff, equipped
offices, classrooms, computer laboratories, libraries, teaching materials
and publications. As collaboration is one key factor to the success of
STOU distance teaching system, results of this research are valuable for
collaborative teaching/learning between STOU and other graduate library
schools for full use of resources in library and information science in the
Students have been a prime concern of the university as STOU gears towards
consumer orientation. In 1992, Chutima Sacchanand conducted a survey among
students in the information science program to investigate their
backgrounds; their motivations for studying, their needs in bringing
knowledge and experience to use, and their problems in studying information
science via the distance education system. The results of this study
showed that the majority of students in information science via the
distance education system were female, between the ages of 26 and 30 and
living in Bangkok. The largest number of students had jobs and were mostly
private employees. Personal interest and more knowledge and experience
were the highest mean averages for students' motivation for studying.
Students had a deep commitment to bring knowledge and experience from
studying into use. In pursuing an information science program via the
distance education system, textbook and workbooks were the primary learning
tools and students faced only an average number of problems.
From this study, two major recommendations were made and put into
evidence-based practice by the university as follows:
As it was found that students who were the second largest group had
already graduated with a bachelor's degree program, STOU considered the
possibility of offering courses at the graduate level to alleviate the need
to repeat the bachelor's degree program and increase students' subject
knowledge and to upgrade STOU's distance education program. Therefore,
STOU decided to offer the masters degree program in information science and
conducted feasibility research.
The findings about background, motivations and needs of students were used
for the revision and development of the curriculum at diploma, bachelor and
masters levels to suit the needs of the target group in information
science. A new curricula oriented to business as well as technologies was
recommended and has been reflected in the 2000 revised curriculum in
information science of STOU.
The availability of other supporting facilities, especially libraries, has
been of interest, since information resources for information science
graduate study are an important concern in starting the graduate program in
information science by STOU, as this is a distance education system and
students are scattered around the country.
Somsuang Prudtikul and Pensri Tipsuwannakul (1983) had investigated user
services and collection needs of the users in order to provide some
guidelines for the operation and development of STOU Library Service
Centers. The results of the study showed that STOU students and all other
users were satisfied with the STOU Library Service Centers and their
services. Interesting suggestions were mostly on increasing the number of
books and other materials especially cassette tapes/video tapes and
extension of the hours of services especially on weekends and holidays.
From these recommendations, the university increased the budget for
collection development and improved library services.
Kriangkrai Kittitornsub (1993) investigated the opinions of users, service
librarians and library staff of public libraries in Bangkok Metropolitan
towards STOU Corners in those public libraries. It was found that STOU
Corners are useful not only to STOU students but also to the general
public. A major recommendation is for the improvement of insufficient and
not up-to-date collections.
Besides these projects, there are many theses conducted by graduate
students as partial fulfilment for the masters degree in library and
information science in Thailand. There are also some research works by
librarians which are not specific to any library or institution but give
the big picture. These are relevant and can be applicable to STOU and
other university libraries, e.g.
"Collaboration between library science departments and libraries in
providing library practical experience" (by Siriporn Punyayong)
"An evaluation of information retrieval from CD-ROM databases of
reference librarians in state academic libraries" (by Prapai Inchan) ;
"Calculation of CD-ROM database search services fees in state academic
libraries and users' attitude towards fee" (by Mayuree Julagan).
IV. Future research
The last stage of the STOU plan is an evaluation and follow up research in
order to obtain feedback that can be used to improve the curriculum, the
teaching/learning process and the management of the STOU distance education
system for effectiveness and efficiency.
STOU administrators and information science faculty members recognize that
evaluation is ignificant and a necessary part of accountability, quality
control systems and resource allocation. Therefore, STOU pays attention to
evaluation research. Various research topics include evaluation of the
information science distance education program, follow-up studies of
graduates, evaluation of study packages and services especially library
sevices. Findings from the evaluation research will be put into practice
as a basis for on-going improvement of the STOU information science
Research in library and information science has its root in library
practice. The development of theory and the design of research came only
after the profession was well established. In Thailand there are many
research studies in library and information science, with the majority
being theses of graduate students. In the case of STOU, many research
works have been conducted for the effectiveness of the information science
degree program, and in providing the new program at the masters level.
Through research works conducted, the Office of Documentation and
Information at STOU library has continuously improved itself to better
respond to the needs of its target groups, to provide support for teaching
and learning, and to make the library an important component in the STOU
distance education system. Theory and practice need to be seen as
distinct and interacting components of the library and information science
Chitra Tubsaeng. "Problems in using books and library materials for
library science research,
Graduate Schools, Chulalongkorn University, 1964 - 1973." Master's
thesis, Graduate School, Chulalongkorn University, 1975.
Chulalongkorn University. Research Division. Research Dissemination
Project. "Problems in
conducting and using research works in library and information
science." Edited by Ambhorn Thikara. Bangkok: Chulalongkorn University, 1985.
Chutima Sacchanand. "Development of library and informat
ion science graduate studies in
Thailand." Nonthaburi: STOU, 1996.
_____. "The motivations and needs of students studying information
science programs at the School of Liberal Arts, Sukhothai Thammathirat Open
University (STOU)" Nonthaburi : STOU, 1992 (Funded by Ratanakosin
_____. "Status of research in library and information science in
Thailand." Bangkok: the
National Commission for Research, 1994. (Funded by the National
Commission for Research)
_____ and Sukanya Teerapongpakdee. "A survey of the educational
needs and the feasibility of offering an information science master's
degree program at School of Liberal Arts, Sukhothai Thammathirat Open
University." Nonthaburi: STOU, 1995. (Funded by Ratanakosin Sompoj
Kriangkrai Kittitornsub. "The opinions of users, service librarians
and library staff of public
libraries in Bangkok Metropolitan towards STOU Corners." Master's
thesis, Graduate School, Srinakarintarawirot Prasarnmit 1993.
Sompit Cusripitack. "A survey of the needs of library and information
services and professionals in Thailand." Bangkok, 1978.
Somsuang Prudtikul and Pensri Tipsuwannakul. "A case study : The
status of and problems
in using STOU library service centers." Nonthaburi: STOU, 1983.
Srirat Wattana. "Using research in library science." Master's
thesis, Graduate School, Rinakarinwirot University, 1982.
Sukhothai Thammathirat Open University. "Research in library and
information science: Roles, impacts and trends." Nonthaburi: STOU,
Yupadee Charusab. "Using theses in library science of academic
Master's thesis, Graduate School, Chulalongkorn University, 1984.