Federated States of Micronesia
The Problem or Challenge
Collaboration for Advocacy in the Pacific Islands: the Pacific Islands Association of Libraries, Archives, and Museums (PIALA)
submitted by Mr. Atarino A. Helieisar
Collaboration has been a challenge in the past for the Pacific Islands Association of Libraries, Archives, and Museums (PIALA) with member institutions spread across the Pacific Ocean. Efforts of collaboration on pertinent library issues including advocacy are affected. Resource sharing among island entities is limited due to inaccessibility to other libraries' collections. Inaccessibility is due to insufficient resources to fund library automation programs that allow for effective resource sharing, the training needed to acquire the needed skills to use the program and provide training to others, and the technology and equipment needed to develop collections and provide access to users. Educational programs for professional development in the library field are hindered due to the high cost of graduate programs provided in by accredited institutions.
The Pacific Islands Association of Libraries, Archives, and Museums (PIALA) is a regional association of librarians, archivists, and museum staff from the Pacific islands. The association was formed to address the needs of Pacific librarians, archivists, museums staff and other information professionals, with a special geographic focus on Micronesia.
Established in 1991, PIALA holds its annual meetings in member regions in the Pacific Islands. At its annual meetings, members identified areas of concern that needed to be addressed to improve library influence in the Pacific, specifically in the Micronesian region.
Given that the budgetary provision of PIALA is very limited to fund the cost of all the educational and professional developmental needs, there is always a need to look outside of PIALA for assistance in funding and collaborative efforts. PIALA found the office of the Pacific Resources for Educational Learning (PREL) who has been a leading player with many successful projects in Micronesia on trainings for librarians or libraries in the US-affiliated States Pacific and would be the ideal partner in identifying training and educational needs of PIALA members and institutions. With the full support of PREL office and the PIALA Executive Board, a memorandum of understanding was made and signed between PREL and PIALA to work together in finding possible ways to address training and educational needs. Following long discussions through emails in addition to observations made through visiting each island entity and listening to members of PIALA by PREL staff, grant applications were submitted by PREL to the Institute of Museums and Library Services (IMLS) with support letters from PIALA and other libraries in Micronesia attached with a clear understanding of what would be the responsibilities of both PREL and PIALA on these collaborative works. Not long after, PREL and PIALA were able to acquire funding to support the following educational training programs for librarians in the Pacific from IMLS through the government of the United States.
The first set of training workshops were developed to target the paraprofessional staff of librarians working at different types of libraries across the Pacific. The training was called Leaders for Pacific Libraries (LPL) and targeted areas of need by the local institutions and held at the annual PIALA conferences in 2007, 2008, and 2009 to select participants.
1. LPL - Leaders for Pacific Libraries
- 2007: Disaster Planning & Book Repair (Tinian, Northern Marianas Islands)
- 2008: Grant Writing (Yap, Federated States of Micronesia)
- 2009: Pacific Digital Library (Pohnpei, Federated States of Micronesia)
The second set of training workshops were called Pacific Leadership Training Institute (PLTI) and were developed to target different types of libraries and were held in the years 2006, 2008, and 2010 to select participants.
2. PLTI - Pacific Leadership Training Institute
- 2006: Special libraries (Honolulu, HI)
- 2008: Academic libraries (Honolulu, HI)
- 2010: School libraries (Guam)
Library Education for the U.S.-Affiliated Pacific Islands also known as LEAP (2011-2013)
The LEAP program offered full scholarships to fund 28 students to earn their graduate degrees in an online library science program at the University of North Texas, an ALA-accredited university in Denton, Texas. Potential candidates were screened and selections were made from American Samoa, Guam, Japan, Saipan, and FSM (states of Chuuk and Pohnpei).
- Communication barriers with technology in getting people to meet deadlines and respond to communication sent out
- Budget limitations on necessary equipment and resources
- Distances between the islands
Through the partnership of collaboration and advocacy, the following were achieved:
- Positive dialogue ongoing with ideas for improvement
- More outreach efforts with other regions and librarians in the region
Trainings developed librarians to take on leadership roles in the region, including:
- Atarino A. Helieisar, Chief Law Librarian at the FSM Supreme Court Law Library was a trainee in LPL 2007, 2008, PLTI 2006 & 2008. He was hired at the highest court in the nation as the Chief Law Librarian in 2007-current and also elected to President of PIALA 2008-current.
- Karleen Samuel, Media Instructional Technology Center (MITC) Coordinator at the College of Micronesia-FSM (COM-FSM) was a trainee in LPL 2009 and was given the task of Technical Director for the Pacific Digital Library. She was promoted to MITC Coordinator at COM-FSM in June 2010.
LEAP scholars were promoted or hired to library positions:
- Jennifer Hainrick was promoted to Director of the Learning Resources Center at COM-FSM in August 2011.
- Elvis Zodiacal was promoted to Director of Learning Resources Center at the American Samoa Community College (ASCC) in September 2013.
- Jean Thoulag was hired to work at the Sinclair Library at the University of Hawaii Manoa as their Collection Assessment Librarian in October 2013.
- Tanya Chambers was hired as an elementary school librarian at a small school in Sasebo, Japan in December 2013.
- Rosalyn Ajoste was hired as Technical Services Librarian at the Joeten Kiyu Public Library in January 2014.
- Imengel Mad was promoted to Library Administrator of the Ministry of Education, Republic of Palau overseeing the public school libraries in March 2014.
- 28 LEAP scholars graduated with Masters in Library Science originating from the areas of American Samoa, the territory of Guam, Commonwealth of the Northern Marian Islands, Republic of Palau, Pohnpei, and Chuuk of which are active PIALA members.
- Pacific Digital Library was established in May 2009 as a result of the LPL project and continues to provide access to materials of the Pacific region that are not found or published anywhere else. It continues to grow with additional materials gathered from those who participated in the project and is accessible at their website.
- Many new local library associations are being established with charters and by-laws signed by the government leaders with promise support by their own leaders.
- A new Hawaii Pacific law libraries initiative website has been created.
- Local library associations are stepping up to advocate for their libraries and collaborative efforts with other associations through the creation of their own websites to reach wider audiences, including:
Last update: 23 June 2014