Preserving Local Documentary Heritage—Conversations with Special Library Managers and Archivists in Hong Kong
Archival records are meant to serve as evidence of responsible governance, and in addition to their undeniable political value, they also serve as the basic component of a nation’s documentary heritage. Records today are history tomorrow. However, with the absence of an Archives Law in Hong Kong and the significance of keeping records being overlooked or actually not understood by people of Hong Kong, there are heightened concerns that government records would be destroyed for unjustifiable reasons and that public’s rights to access well-preserved government records would be deprived of.
This book in 16 chapters is based on a series of direct face-to-face interviews with different practising archivists and special library managers in Hong Kong. Their conversations recorded in the book not only enable readers to understand the urgency of approving the Archives Law, but also reveal the details about their profession, as well as the richness of the local heritage that is uniquely Hong Kong.
While the role of archivists is always being confused with that of librarians, this book clarifies the function and job nature of the two professions and demonstrates the prospects they have and challenges they face. The book also serves as a reference guide for current students and graduates who are considering choosing the archival science or library and information science profession, providing them insights into the life and work of archivists and special library managers.
In Hong Kong, there are a number of professional forums for academic and public librarians to share information and resources – allowing them to learn from one another; and at the same time creating valuable opportunities for them to share ideas and experiences related to career development. On the contrary, the opportunities for professional sharing among special library managers in Hong Kong seem rather limited. Many archivists and library managers do not have the funding, the time, or simply the suitable forums to share their valuable experiences and expertise.
This book is based on a series of direct face-to-face interviews with different practising archivists and special library managers in Hong Kong. The primary purpose of this book is to serve as a reference guide for current students and graduates who are choosing a career in the archival science or library and information (LIS) profession, to provide insights into the careers of different types of archivists and special library managers that are with many years of training and professional experiences. I asked them to describe the necessary professional skills, knowledge and personalities that are required for working in such environments of varying size, nature, and composition in Hong Kong. For example, for all the top-quality TV news programmes that we enjoy every day – after all the TV news footage is aired, where would they go? Who is looking after this news footage? How would the footage be arranged, stored and catalogued at a TV news library? More importantly, how should the library be staffed in order to support 24-hour news production routines at a TV station? This book includes an exclusive interview with David Wong, News Production Manager, and Roeter Kwok, Principal News Librarian, at TVB (Television Broadcasts Limited), which will provide the answers, and also discuss the unique professional skills, knowledge and personality traits needed for working at a library of a 24-hour TV station. In other words, in addition to the common career route for becoming an academic or public librarian or a public office archivist, this book hopes to provide LIS students and graduates with more insights into career options, and thereby enabling them to make better informed or more suitable career decisions.
As this project progressed, I realised that all these stories told by different archivists and librarians and the collections they described, gradually revealed a richness of the local heritage that is “uniquely Hong Kong” – which unfortunately many of us have simply overlooked in the past, due to various social, educational, political and historical reasons. Some of the interviews feature stories told by foreign archivists and librarians who are practising their professions in Hong Kong; while others present interesting insights shared by local Chinese librarians working for foreign cultural institutes. Among all the professional archivists and librarians, this book also includes a very interesting interview with a community archivist named David Bellis, who happens to be a British expatriate living in Hong Kong. Although not a native of Hong Kong, he has devoted countless hours as well as an immeasurable amount of time and resources of his own to creating an online community archive, allowing the public to share their expertise, knowledge and interests, as well as memories about Hong Kong at any time, and any place. All these different stories are no doubt testimonials of how multi-cultural and multi-faceted Hong Kong is; and how much Hong Kong society is willing to embrace internationalism – thereby creating borderless opportunities for cross-cultural as well as cross-national information sharing, creative enquiries, artistic or cultural endeavours, and other possible collaborations on knowledge exchange.
Choice of Method
The qualitative (direct face-to-face interview) approach provided valuable opportunities for the individual practising archivists and librarians to describe their experiences as they perceived them. The interview answers were created from the participants’ own viewpoints. The interviewees took full control over the flow of the entire conversation, and I purposely did not want to control or interfere with the answers to my open-ended questions, giving the participants total freedom to respond in their own words, based on their interpretations of the questions.
Why Hong Kong Needs an Archives Law
Learning the Importance of Archives Law through the Tragic Loss of 39 Lives
Witnessing the Transfer of Sovereignty over Hong Kong through Public Records
How an Archivist from Virginia Came to Build a University Archives and Fell in Love
News Library—“The Library that Never Sleeps”
Preserving Corporate Memory in Hong Kong
The Goethe-Institut Librarian as a Cultural Ambassador of Germany
Building a Crowd-Sourced Community Archive in Hong Kong
The Judaic Library Serving the Jewish Community of Hong Kong
Developing Informed and Positive Attitudes towards Sex and Sexuality—Resources for Sexuality Education
Different Missions, Common Goals—Debates Surrounding Museum-Library Collaborations
Reviving Traditional Chinese Theatre Arts via the Chinese Opera Information Centre
How a Company Treasures Its People
From Healthcare Heritage to Public Awarenes
Keeping Traditional Martial Arts Alive
Graffiti Inside an Art and Design Library?