Pascal’s place


Views on technology and libraries

Meetings with China Science and Technology Information Institute and College of Information Science and Technology, Beijing Normal University

On Tuesday, we had two meetings, one in the morning and one in the afternoon. We first met with the China Science and Technology Information Institute. Founded in 1956, the China Science and Technology Information Institute is a state-level nonprofit research institution directly under the Ministry of National Science and Technology.

The institute is mainly engaged in information analysis; providing scientific and technological information services; promoting and developing new technology; personal training and continuing education, etc. Within the last 50 years, the China Science and Technology Information Institute has made great contributions to S&T information business, and have received several awards.

Interestingly, the Institute also has graduate and post-graduate programs in Information Science, something that we do not typically see in the west for scientific institutes. They sponsor faculty and students for foreign study exchanges also, and host students and faculty from outside of China to teach and study at the Institute as well. They also have a publications division that publishes and is responsible for several academic journals, meeting proceedings and other publications in the area of information and library science.

This meeting was quite different from our meeting at the library of the CAS on Monday in that almost all of the communication was performed through an interpreter. We found out later that the staff there had good facility in English but that because they were officially representing the government of China they communicated in Chinese.

In the afternoon, we visited the Beijing Normal University’s College of Information Science and Technology. The predecessor of the Information Science and Technology School of Beijing Normal University is the wireless electronics subject in the Physics Department, which has recruited students since 1964. The Wireless Electronics Department was established in 1980, and over the next several years also included education technology and computer science; and the School of Information Science and Technology soon followed. Throughout these changes, the curriculum evolved as well.

Currently the College of Information Science and Technology consists of two departments and many science research centers, specifically the electronics science and technology and the computer science and technology department. Students can receive a Bachelor’s degree in either Electronics Science or Computer Science or a Master’s in Communication and Information Systems, Signal and Information Processing, Computer Software and Theory, Computer Applied Technology, Computer Architecture, and Pattern Recognition and Intelligent Systems. There are 433 undergraduate and 170 graduate students currently enrolled.

The school encourages the students to actively participate in scientific research and innovation activities, as well as various competitions. In recent years, students have published more than 130 academic articles and have won over 90 internal and external awards, but participating in contests including; the National Undergraduate Electronic Design contest; Mathematical Modeling and Computer Application Competition; English Contests; and the Students Entrepreneurship Contest.

This was our first visit to an LIS school, and we met with two faculty members and one student who was in his second year of a Master’s level program at the College. Interestingly, most of the focus here was on undergraduate education, with many of the students having strong computer programming components of the curriculum, information management/engineering, and what we would consider non-traditional library areas in North America. Many of their students after graduation work in the private sector for search engine companies such as Baidu, which has a much larger visibility and usage in China than Google does. I exchanged cards with the faculty members and look forward to finding out more about their course offerings at the College. They do have graduate programs in information science and library science both. It seems that positions at academic libraries are highly sought after in China, so often students with advanced subject degrees are selected for subject librarian positions. There is no established credential for working as a ‘librarian’ in China, and new employees go through a training program in their new position to contextualize the work for the new employee, including teaching them what they may need to know about the work of libraries.


Filed under: librarianship, travel reports

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