The roles of e-library infrastructure in delivering library services for foreign language learning and teaching

This paper presents e-library concepts, components making up of e-library (e-lib) infrastructure and the roles of e-lib infrastructure in delivering e-lib services for the sake of foreign language learning and teaching.
Thanks to technological advancement and the world trend in library development, e-lib has become all the more popular and played an important role in assisting teaching in general and foreign language learning and teaching in particular in higher education institutions. The development of e-lib relies much on infrastructure. Hence, it is necessary for university libraries majoring in foreign language training to have an insight into related theories and evaluation of the status-quo of the infrastructure.
E-lib concept
E-lib is not a novel concept to Vietnam Library industry, yet no common definition is arrived. According to Prof. Dr Hoang Duc Lien, this concept could be understood as: “e-lib is an information system in which sources of information are available in forms that could be processed by computer and all such functions as addition, archive, conservation, search, access and display can go digital” (Liên& Ty, 2007).
E-lib infrastructure components
On the Journal of Information and Material, Nguyen TienDuc (2005) clearly indicates components making up the E-lib infrastructure including:
  • Intranet based on high-speed Internet
  • Big server system for administration and other related services: web server, mail server, archive server etc.,
  • Workstation systems for information up-date and exploration
  • Specialised technology devices designed for e-lib such as bar code, card management and printing, scanner, CD maker etc.,
  • E-lib management software
  • Room, chair, and facilities infrastructure
The roles of e-library infrastructure in delivering library services for foreign language learning and teaching
Chapelle (2001) stresses that to improve the quality of foreign language learning and teaching in the 21st Century, technology-enhanced learning activities should be paid with due attention as they help language learners perfect their language acquisition process in the most effective way. Therefore, technology-enhanced e-lib services should be well organised in support of active foreign language learning and teaching. Accordingly, the infrastructure plays a crucial role and its components determine the quality of the services delivered. For instance, regarding the Online Public Access Catalog (OPAC), Internet search, online support and consultation, and full text access, connection speed, workstation configuration and the capacity to process the data of the server will determine the success of the e-lib service. Teachers and learners will find it easy to search for and get access to full texts needed (especially with audio-visual materials being typical of foreign language learning and teaching) if the server system is strong enough, high configured workstations and good internet connection speed and vice-versa.
  Figure 1: An example on data search service based on OPAC
Regarding materials loan, return and extension service, on-the-spot reading service, audio-visual and digitalised materials etc., the quality of such equipment as scanner, bar code reader, card printer, radio cassette player, recorder would be major factors impacting these services. Survey result in the thesis “Developing the information service at the Library of Hanoi University” by Nguyen Van Kep(2013, tr. 63) concludes that out of 13 information services delivered by the Library of Hanoi University, the group of 04 services evaluated as being fairly good are those equipped with good infrastructure.Besides, accessaries services for foreign language learning and teaching such as group work, self-study area, lecture-supporting area, presentation practice room, listening practice site and entertainment area etc., known as a common learning environment (McMullen, 2008) have gained due attention f-rom university libraries worldwide. These services have been strongly impacted by infrastructure conditions such as room area, quality of table and chair, sound and light system, projector and recording systems. Thùy & Phương (2014) also state that these services could serve as one of the criteria for evaluation of library performance with regard to creating a comfortable and user-friendly learning environment, a community learning space and an open learning space.
Regarding research assistance and information user support services, besides the expertise of librarians, infrastructure factors that have direct impacts on the quality of services are facilities and a system of application software. Lack of workstation or application software will make it hard for the operation of library services. In a study reviewing the status-quo of infrastructure of 10 university libraries in Nigeria, Sivakumaren, K.S. và Geetha, Dr. V. conclude that more computers and application software should be provided for universities so that faculty and students could make the best use of library services (Sivakumaren, Geetha, & Jeyaprakash, 2011).
Figure 2: Information user training service
E-lib, or the digital library in its highest development, will bring its role into full play in learning and teaching area, especially in terms of foreign language field. University libraries should pay further attention to infrastructure factors for an appropriate se-lection and organisation of library services in assisting foreign language learning and teaching.
Chapelle, C. A. (2001). Computer Application in Second Language Acquisition. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Đức, N. T. (2005). Xây dựng Thư viện điện tử và vấn đề số hóa tài liệu ở Việt Nam. Tạp chí Thông tin và Tư liệu, 2.
Kép, N. V. (2013). Phát triển dịch vụ thông tin tại Thư viện trường Đại học Hà Nội. (Luận văn), Trường Đại học Văn hóa Hà Nội, Hà Nội.
Liên, H. Đ., & Ty, N. H. (2007). Giải pháp xây dựng các bộ sưu tập số phục vụ đào tạo, nghiên cứu. Hội thảo khoa học Thông tin-Thư viện, Đà Lạt.
McMullen, S. (2008). US academic libraries: Today’s learning commons model.
Sivakumaren, K. S., Geetha, D. V., & Jeyaprakash, B. (2011). ICT Facilities in University Libraries: A Study. Library Philosophy and Practice.
Thùy, B. L., & Phương, N. T. B. (2014). Đầu tư vào Thư viện đại học và các tiêu chí đánh giá hiệu quả đầu tư. Tạp chí Thư viện Việt Nam, 1 (45), 22-28.
Người đăng:Nguyen Van Kep, Hanoi University’s Library