As librarians we are expected to write and we do write. Our writing can take many forms – our report after attending an event, a report for our organisation, a paper for a conference or even an article for a journal. Through our writings, we are sharing our knowledge, skills and experiences. We are adding to the corpus of knowledge on library and information science.

Whilst we are writing, we will definitely be referring to a number of sources. When writing a report after attending an event, we would be referring to the programme book or even the speeches delivered during the event. When we are writing a proposal or a report for our organisation, we would be referring to sources related to our proposal as well as statistics to strengthen statements that we make in our writings. When we write a conference paper or a journal article, we would definitely be using various sources. All these sources will add value to our writings and it would also allow our readers to refer to the sources that we use. All these sources will be listed as a Bibliography and/or References at the end of our writing. What is the difference between a Bibliography and References? A Bibliography is a list of sources that we refer to but is not mentioned or cited in our writing. References is a list of sources that we actually mention or cite in our writing. This is known as in-text citation.

In-text citation is when we refer to a source in our writing or when we paraphrase from the source. So what is paraphrasing? Paraphrasing refers to the process where we write out what we have read from a source document using our own words. For example, we read a 6-page article and we come across a statement that we want to include in our writing. So we have to understand what the statement means and then rewrite it in our own words. When we want to refer to a number of source documents, we have to read, analyse and synthesise the source documents.

There are two types of in-text citations, namely narrative and parenthetical.

Narrative Citation

Narrative citation is when we write the author’s surname as part of our sentence. After the author’s surname, we have to insert the date of the publication in brackets.

Example A: Edzan (2020) noted that media and information literacy is a term favoured by UNESCO.

Example B: When looking at the various definitions of media and information literacy, Edzan (2020) noted that media and information literacy is a term favoured by UNESCO.

Example C: When looking at the various definitions of media and information literacy, it is a term favoured by UNESCO as noted by Edzan (2020).

There is a tendency for some of us to write continuously as in Example A. However if this style is used as a beginning for every sentence, it affects the flow of our writing and can be quite tedious reading for your audience. So try using a combination of Example A, Example B and Example C. For Example B, we can write a sentence and insert the author’s surname in the middle of the sentence. For Example C, we can write a whole sentence and place the author’s surname at the end of the sentence.

Parenthetical citation

In parenthetical citation, we place the author’s surname and year in brackets. The author’s surname is separated from the year by a comma ( , ). For example, (Smith, 2019).

Example A: UNESCO favours the use of the term media and information literacy (Smith, 2019).

Example B: UNESCO favours the use of the term media and information literacy (Smith, 2019) as opposed to IFLA.

We can place a parenthetical citation in the middle or at the end of a sentence. In Example A, we place the parenthetical citation at the end of the sentence.

Author typeNarrative citationParenthetical citation
 One author Smith (2020) (Smith, 2020)
 Two authors Smith and Jones (2020) (Smith & Jones, 2020)
 Three or more  authors Smith et al. (2020) (Smith et al., 2020)
 Organization UNESCO (2020) (UNESCO, 2020)
Table 1: Parenthentical citation – single author, multiple authors and organisations as author

Table 1 shows examples of how we should write out single and multiple authors as well as organisations as parenthetical and narrative citations. Take note that of the use of the word and in narrative citation for two authors and the use of & in parenthetical citation for two authors. The reasoning behind this is that in narrative citation we are using the authors’ surnames in a sentence and the use of the word and instead of & is more appropriate.

Missing elementWhat to doParenthetical citation
Author unknown Use source title.(Source title, 2020)  Example: (How to sell, 2020)
Date unknown Write “n.d.” for “no date”. (Smith, n.d.)
Page unknown 1. use an alternative locator     (example = Chapter)  or
2. leave out the page number 
 1. (Smith, 2020, Chapter 3)       or
 2. (Smith, 2020)
Parenthentical citation – Missing information

At times we come across sources that have missing components (Table 2). When a source that we are referring to does not have an author, we would then cite the title of the source. In the example above, the title of the source document is How to sell. Therefore we cite it as (How to sell, 2020). The source title has to be in italics. When we come across a source document that has no date, we use the abbreviation n.d. which stands for no date. When we are citing source documents, it is advisable to put in the page which we are referring to after the author’s surname and date of publication. This will make it easier for our readers to locate the exact page of what we are referring to in the source document. But most of us tend to omit this. But like I mentioned before, it is good practice to do so. If we want to include the page title in our in-text citation but the page number is missing, then use the next best option, the chapter number. But if the chapter number is not available, then we can leave out the page number.

Using Short Quotations

When we are writing, we would encounter moments when it is difficult for us to paraphrase. We also feel that when we paraphrase, the context of the sentence is lost. Therefore we feel that it is best for us to place the original sentence in our writing. This is referred to as quotations. There are two types of quotations – short and long quotations.

Short quotations are those with 40 words or less. When using short quotations in our writings, we place the quotations within “ “ and put the author’s surname, date of publication and page number in brackets at the end of the quote.

Example A: Sullivan (1976) stated that “typically, a library association’s publishing program starts in a small way, with a newsletter or some modest means of communication to its members”.

Example B: Effective teams can be difficult to describe because “high performance along one domain does not translate to high performance along another”(Ervin et al., 2018, p.470).

Example A shows the use short quotation in narrative citation and Example B is for parenthetical citation.

Using Long Quotations

Block quotations are those with more than 40 words. The convention for writing out a block quotation as required by the APA style is as follows:

  1. Start on a new line and indent the whole block 0.5 in. from the left margin.
  2. Double-space the entire block quotation.
  3. Do not add extra space before or after it.
  4. If there are additional paragraphs within the quotation, indent the first line of each subsequent paragraph an additional 0.5 in.
  5. Either (a) cite the source in parentheses after the quotation’s final punctuation or (b) cite the author and year in the narrative before the quotation and place only the page number in parentheses after the quotation’s final punctuation.
  6. Do not add a period after the closing parenthesis in either case.

However, personally, I do not recommend using block quotations in your writings since it will take up a lot of your word count. Only use this if it is absolutely necessary.


I hope this post will help those who are writing for the very first time. There are about 15 different types of citation styles (Table 3). There are also numerous guides available on the Web that provides instructions on how to use the various citation styles.

Citation StyleDiscipline
1. AAAAnthropology
2. ACSChemistry
3. AMAMedical sciences
4. APASocial sciences, Education, Engineering
5. APSAPolitical science
6. Chicago AHistory
7. Chicago BPhysical, Natural and Social sciences
8. HarvardHumanities, Social sciences
9. IEEEEngineering
10. MHRAHumanities
11. MLAHumanities
12. NLMMedical sciences
14. TurabianBusiness, History, Fine arts
15. VancouverMedical sciences
Table 3: Citation Styles

In this post, I am using the APA Style since it is a style we use for LIS publications.

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My Online Appearance

As always, my opening line would be “it’s been quite awhile” and it is. My last post was on 26 June 2021 and as far as the pandemic is concerned, we seem to be at a deadlock with the virus. The vaccination exercise is going on as planned by the Government but the number of infected cases is on the rise. We have moved from the MCO to the NRP or the National Recovery Plan. There are 4 stages for the NRP with a number of criteria for each stage. Thus, different states are at different NRP stage. The state I’m in, Selangor, is at Stage 1. And oh, our 8th PM resigned and we have a 9th PM but with the same government.

I’ve moved back to my own home after staying at my eldest for about 16 months. I still stay indoors most of the time and would only leave the house if I have too. Each morning I will drive my youngest to the LRT station and each evening I will drive to the station to pick her up. Other than that, I will keep myself occupied by editing, translating, lecturing or participating in online webinars and meetings. Since my last post, I’m now more comfortable with the various online communication tools.

My first ever “online appearance” was as a panellist for a session with Librarian I.D.E.A.S. on 16 April 2020. My first pre-recorded online lecture was on 28 October 2020 and my first online lecture was on 17 February 2021. My first participation as a presenter for an online conference was on 5 April 2021 and as a keynote speaker was on 22 June 2021. My first experience as a moderator for an online event was on 29 July 2021 … definitely a lot of firsts for me and I guess for others out there as well.

The COVID-19 pandemic is unprecedented. Therefore, I’m keeping the e-posters here not only as a reminder of the pandemic, but in recognition of those who designed the e-posters. I don’t know who they are but thank you for these beautiful reminders … and thank you to the organisers who have invited me to be part of their new normal.

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Communicating … the New Way

Gone are the days (at least for now) when I have to get up early, dress-up and drive to a meeting venue – be it an office or an eatery. Now, it’s more like “we’ll Google Meet” or “I’ll WhatsApp you the link” or “you just click on the Zoom link” and lo and behold, we are good to go. The COVID-19 pandemic has it down side but it also forced us to use technology that was there but we had no immediate use of it. The pandemic has pushed us out of our extremely safe comfort zone. We have to face whatever technology we have been trying to run away from.

My first experience with Zoom was way back in 2019 and that is through the IFLA RSCAO group. I was part of a committee for RSCAO’s Open Session at WLIC 2019 in Athens. The committee members were everywhere and the only way we could meet was through Zoom. I was clueless and asked a lot of questions and even went to the extend of asking for a step-by-step instruction. My colleagues obliged. At that time, all I knew was that I require a good connection and a headset with a microphone. I was given a link, told to click on it and we are good to go. With that we could talk as if we are together in a meeting room but we could not see each other or be with each other physically. I don’t remember getting any instructions about switching on your video and sharing your documents for others to see. Maybe it was there but I never explored.

On 15 March 2020. I was suppose to be in Singapore preparing for the 2020 RSCAO Mid-Term Meeting scheduled for 16 to 17 March 2020. However, various countries were already closing their borders, making travel impossible and on 18 March 2020, our Prime Minister placed Malaysia under the Movement Control Order (MCO). I was so looking forward to spending some time with colleagues in Singapore, but it was not meant to be. Thus began my acquaintance with the various online communication platforms.

Instead of attending a physical meeting in Singapore, RSCAO had its 2020 Mid-Term Meeting via Zoom. A total of 13 members from all over Asia Oceania met to discuss and make plans for RSCAO to remain active throughout the pandemic. I am the Secretary for RSCAO but I left the sharing of slides and documents to the Chair who is more comfortable with Zoom.

Further down the line, I was lucky enough to be invited to be a panel member for a talk. I sheepishly asked them “what platform are you using?” Deep down I was praying for Zoom but they said “StreamYard”. “Stream what?” Another new one I guess. The team assured me “Don’t worry, we will handle the backend. You just connect and you are live.” Alhamdullillah, all went well but I had my youngest (Amelia) beside me throughout the entire show … just in case my laptop or my headset fails me … and also had her laptop on standby … such was my fear.

My next encounter with an online meeting platform was with Google Meet (GM). If GM had been in my Google account, I never noticed. Google apparently improved this feature to meet the needs of their users during the pandemic. I consider myself really lucky since my eldest (Suraiya) was having her online classes via GM even before the MCO. She walked me through the entire process of using GM and therefore, my first few meetings via GM went well. The closure of schools during the MCO meant that my one and only grandchild had to attend online classes which were conducted via GM. This gave me an opportunity to improve my GM skills. I explored ways of changing the virtual background and sharing documents and slides.

A true digital native who has been attending online classes via GM with no problems

It went well but with a few glitches

When offices opened with strict SOPs, I accepted an invitation to present a 1-hour lecture. However, before my lecture date, I was informed that face-to-face classes are not allowed and I was asked to record my lecture. Record my lecture? How? I went onto the Internet and began looking for information on how to record my Powerpoint slides. Apparently, I can record my lecture using Powerpoint itself. I explored, tried and tried and tried. It worked. So, I prepared my slides, gathered my thoughts and proceeded to record my 1-hour lecture. It took me 2 hours to do so and I was tired but happy. Hoorayyyy … I had successfully recorded my lecture using Powerpoint. My happiness was short lived. I played back and my voice was not recorded. My feelings … frustrated, drained, stressed and a whole spectrum of feelings but definitely not defeated. Amelia, still exhausted from work, sat beside me and asked me to show her what I did. To my horror, what I did not do was save my presentation as an mp4 file. I gave myself space to breathe and spent another 2 hours recording and it came out as expected. There were some glitches but I have not explored the art of editing. I sent off my recording, glitches and all, and that was that. Another skill under my belt, learned the hard way, but it’s water under the bridge.

So I can now claim that I have experience in using Zoom, StreamYard, GM and recording using Powerpoint. But, I am still learning and whenever I can, I would look up for YouTube videos on how to further improve my skills. When I thought I can now sit back comfortably and accept whatever invitations that come my way, I received an invitation to deliver a keynote this week. My first question was “what are you using?” “Webex” and that was there. No worries but I was a wee bit worried. I asked one of my colleagues about Webex and he assured me that it is similar to the other applications I have used before. The host gave us one whole morning to explore Webex and it is definitely similar to the others in so many ways. So, I have one more under my belt and not forgetting how to make video calls on my mobile gadgets either individually or as a group [phew].

The COVID-19 has literally forced us to move out of our comfort zone with regards to communication technology. The digital natives have no problems handling the emerging technology. It’s second nature to them. Both my daughters and my granddaughter are living proof of this. They adapt to technology seamlessly. For a digital migrant or immigrant like me and maybe others from my generation, we are learning and adapting as best we can. What I thought was difficult and rather impossible is definitely possible if you have the patience and time to explore and practice. We just need to give ourselves some time to learn and relearn and we are good to go. Most importantly, ask those who know. Borrowing from a Malay saying segan bertanya, sesat jalan, meaning, when you are too shy/lazy to ask, you will get lost. Stay safe everyone out there.

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WRITING FOR LIBRARIANS: How I Write a Piece of News

Whenever I ask Malaysian librarians “why are you not writing for your profession?” More often than not, high on the list is “I don’t know how to write.” My immediate response to this would always be “when you were a student, you have to complete written assignments right?” The response I would get “but that is different.” Ok … point taken. So now let’s us see how we can start writing for those who do want to write. Let’s take the first step.

I have been reading quite a number of articles on why librarians are not writing. There are also an equal number of articles telling us how to begin to write. For those who have not written since their graduation, diving headlong into writing an article for a journal or a paper for a conference can be a daunting task. However, as a librarian, I know for sure that you have done some form of writing. It can be a a proposal for a new service, a report on a programme that you have just completed or some other form of writing for your organisation. Therefore, you can definitely write but the stumbling block could be what to write about.

Therefore, let us start our journey on professional writing by writing news for a newsletter or a bulletin or a blog of your library, organisation or professional association. Your parent organisation or your library may or may not have a newsletter but Persatuan Pustakawan Malaysia or PPM does have a newsletter known as PPM News/Berita PPM: News About Malaysian Libraries and Librarians (https://beritappm.wordpress.com/).

There are a lot of writings on the Internet about how to write news. Each news writer has their own individual style but it is based on the basics of news writing. I have been writing bits and pieces of news mainly for my previous institution’s journal Kekal Abadi (https://umlib.um.edu.my/library-publications/kekal-abadi/) and for my professional association PPM in the form of Berita PPM (https://beritappm.wordpress.com/).

So, what I’m sharing today is how I go about writing a piece of news. It’s how I do it. It may not be the correct way but I have read about it and used the tips given. You can develop your own way of writing news once you have done it for quite sometime.

Writing a piece of news

Any piece of news that we want to write must always have a subject matter. This is the WHAT of the news. When working in a library, there are numerous subject-matter around you that you can write about such as:

  1. Launch of a new service – eg. Drive-in book loan.
  2. Launch of a new facility – eg. 24×7 study area
  3. Activity – eg. Let’s Read for 10 minutes
  4. Conference report – eg. Attending IFLA WLIC 2018
  5. Personal experience – eg. Volunteering at IFLA WLIC 2019

Once you have identified the subject matter, you can proceed with answering the 5Ws and 1H namely  What, Why, When, How, Where and Who. I will be using an event organised by PPM that took place on 24 February 2021.

1.What?What happened? What is the event about?Bicara Harta Intelek: Siri 6: PPM Sebagai Pusat Penyerahan Terbitan Negara.
2.When?When did it happened? When was the event held?24 February 2021 Wednesday 10.00 to 11.25 am
3.Where?Where did it take place?FB Live PPM
4.Why?Why did it happened?Objektif = memberi kesedaran kepada ahli PPM dan mereka yang berminta mengenai peranan yang dimainkan oleh PNM dalam Akta Penyerahan Bahan 1996.
5.Who?Who are involved?Penganjur = Jawatankuasa Harta Intelek PPM. Pembentang = Encik Mohamad Fazali bin Mohd. Salleh, Timbalan Pengarah (Kanan), Pusat Penyerahan Terbitan Negara, Perpustakaan Negara Malaysia. Moderator = Muizzudin bin Kaspol, Penolong Ketua Pustakawan, Perpustakaan Sultan Abdul Samad, Universiti Putra Malaysia. Penonton = Ahli PPM / Pustakawan / Penerbit / Pelajar LIS / mereka yang berminat.
6.How?How was the event conducted?Pembentang membuat pembentangan mengenai Akta Penyerahan Bahan 1996 / peranan PNM / sistem depositori = terangkan dengan lebih lanjut. Moderator beri soalan yang telah dan baru diterima = beri contoh soalan. Pembentang menjawab soalan = beri jawapan pembentang. Moderator ucap terima kasih kepada pembentang dan penonton.
Using the 5W1H to write news

Do spend some time to read and understand John Allen’s writing on The questions every journalists should ask (https://mediahelpingmedia.org/2021/02/04/the-questions-every-journalist-should-ask/).

Once you have gathered the information you need, you can start your writing. And yes, I agree … the first word, the first sentence is always the hardest. In this example, I would start with “Pada 24 Februari 2021, Jawatankuasa Harta Intelek PPM telah menganjurkan ….” or “Jawatankuasa Harta Intelek PPM telah meneruskan Siri Bicara Harta Intelek dengan penganjuran ….”. Unless we are writing an investigative or an analytical or an editorial piece or writing for a column, the writing style is as such. Do spend sometime reading the various newspapers. This will give you an idea on how news are written.

So, do try your hands at writing news. This will definitely sharpen your writing skills and get you into “the mood” for writing. Once you are quite comfortable with writing, why not write an article on any aspect of the profession and send it to the local newspapers? Your name could one day be a byline in one of our newspapers.

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Entering MCO 2.0

18 January 2021 and everyone in Selangor are in our 6th day of the movement control order or MCO. I am specifically stating Selangor ‘cos I am staying in Selangor. We were in into our 91st day of a 93-day RMCO when the PM announced the enforcement of the MCO right up to 26 January 2021. The reason for this was the ever increasing number of infections in a number of states including Selangor. The country-wide figures has been in the thousands for a number of days.

My reaction? I guess I have no reaction at all. I have come to a stage where I have no other option but to accept it – #stayathome; wash your hands, wear a face mask, warn; and avoid crowded places, confined spaces and close conversation. However, I do have my apprehensions. My home is in its final stage of renovation. The contractor only has has to do some minor touchups here and there. He also need to remove construction materials and we are good to go. I have moved in furniture that I have procured over the past 6 months since the supplier can no longer keep it in storage. But alas, it’s not to be. I can gradually move in stuff from my storage unit into my home but let’s wait until the contractor officially hands over the house.

The next announcement from the PM came as quite a surprise. I woke up rather late on 12 January 2021 to find out that the PM has announced that the Yang Di Pertuan Agong has consented to declaring a state of emergency until 1 August 2021.

My understanding of this Emergency Order is that everything stays status quo except that there will be no election and the Parliament and State Assemblies cannot meet. An independent committee will be set up to monitor matters. The declaration came about as an effort to curb the spread of COVID-19. The numbers are not looking good and this could be the solution to the problem. There are numerous accusations and counter accusations over the media on the declaration of a state of emergency by the PM.

What’s in the Pipeline For Me?

Am I disappointed with what is happening? Yes I am. I was looking forward to moving into my home and that would have kept me busy during the remaining days of January and the entire month of February. Throughout January, I was still attending online meetings and was scheduled to deliver an online lecture. I was mentally prepping a “home studio” to do all this but again, it’s not to be. My granddaughter was suppose to go back to school on 20 January 2021 and the entire household was making arrangements for this and again this is not to be.

So, where do I go from here? I have volunteered for 2 PPM committees and hopefully this will keep me busy for the rest of the year or at least during the MCO and other MCOs to come. I will keep myself busy by writing news for the 2 committees and hopefully blog at least once a week or maybe once a month, whichever is convenient. I would probably go back to scholarly writing, something I totally abandoned after my retirement. I did write a piece for Sekitar Perpustakaan in 2019 and the IFLA RSCAO Newsletter in 2020.

Every morning from Monday to Friday and occasionally on Saturday, I will drive my youngest to the nearest MRT station. Before the MCO, it was the Kwasa Sentral Station but now it is the Kota Damansara Station – the authorities blocked the road to the former. In the evenings I will pick her up. I do look forward to the morning and evening drives – it gives me an opportunity to look at the skies, clouds and the cars on the street. Odd but true.

I am rather active on social media. I post almost daily on my IG and this post is linked to my FB and Twitter. I am also on various WhatsApp groups or WAGs. This keeps me busy as well but at times it can be rather overwhelming since I do get a lot of posts from the various WAGs. I guess at times like this I do find connecting with these WAGs keep me occupied and to an extent avoided me from feeling lonely. Oddly enough one can and do feel lonely even in a crowded room. I guess there are others who feel the same way like I do. The one bad thing, in my opinion, is my obsession with my handphone. I can get glued to the screen for hours and I am not proud of this at all. And oh, I do spend time watching the TV but only to watch the news and crime-based stories.

What do I miss most now? During the RMCO, I could at least eat in a a restaurant and window shop along the way. Now, I’m confined to the house but thankfully with my immediate family. So let’s hope this will end soon.

Courtesy of NOVARTIS

Update As at 15 February 2021

A lot has been happening since this was posted on 18 January 2021. The MCO has been extended from 26 January 2021 to 4 February 2021 and then to 18 February 2021.The number of infections reached toi more than 5,000 per day and it was going up and down. But it seems to be on the decline. Most of the infections were from the factories. We celebrated Thaipusam, Federal Territory Day and Chinese New Year under MCO conditions, sad but true.

I’m at home most of the time but still sends and picks Amelia from the Kota Damansara MRT station. I now spend time exercising at the parking area of the Kota Damansara Community Centre. I send Amelia off at about 6.45 am and by 7.00 am I am at the parking area brisk walking followed by a set of exercises. I’m now in my second week and I feel good about it. And we can now dine-in at restaurants and most shops are operating. I guess this is the best news so far.

I have three things to do before February comes to a close – conduct an online workshop on 17 February 2021, a dental appointment in Kuantan on 21 February 2021 and the RSCAO Mid-Term Meeting & Webinar on 26 February 2021. Keeping my fingers cross for the second tsk ‘cos I need to get permission from the police to travel interstate.

Today is the babe’s birthday. She is officially 8 years old. HAPPY BIRTHDAY AZWA SAFRINA. May Allah SWT protect you in your path. Thank you for filling my days and nights with your presence.

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AZWA’S WRITINGS: 13 February 2021 (Saturday) Mah Firs Typingn Nota

NOTE FROM GRAMBY AKA GRANDMA – I’m trying to encourage her to write and this will be a beginning for her. Small steps or rather very small steps and hopefully she’ll grow up with writing as one of her many passions. This is her first attempt at writing by herself. Yes … she can spell but she purposely wrote the way she did. According to her “just for the fun of it” but Grandma was cringing but played along so as not to kill her interest. The title – you got it right if you said My First Typing Notes. She had put up a video as well on her mum’s YouTube (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o5fiN603WIo&t=42s) as well. Have fun.

Hi I’m Azwa Safrina. I love everything – well not everything I don’t like bullies. I love destroying everything (wait what did I just type?) and please watch my YT channel Sue & Azwa S. I looovvvveeee making paper S-Q-U-I-S-H-I-E-S because it’s soft and squishy (YEAH RIGHT ITS NOT SOFT AND SQUISHY). My friend made a lot so I tried to make one and it worked … sooooo I made LOADS, I think I have 16 or 18 of them. I’m sharing my Gramby’s blog until I can get my own


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A lot of time I hear myself asking librarians ”why are you not writing?”. I do get a wide spectrum of answers but mostly it centres on “I’m too busy with my day-to-day job” and “I don’t know what to write about”. I use to shake my head in disbelief but not anymore mainly because I realised once upon a time, I was like them.

I started my career in the library as an Administrative Officer but doing a librarian’s job. Why? Because I did not possess any library and information science qualification. Within the government sector, one must have a library qualification to hold the post of a librarian. Finally, I did get my library credentials and became a librarian beginning January 1986.

Looking back, I have not written anything at all that is not job-related. I have written numerous reports and was involved in projects where I had to write summaries of books published in Malaysia or by Malaysians. But I have not written anything that involves writing for the profession. Throughout 1985, I wrote assignments for my post-graduate education. Throughout 1995, I wrote assignments and a dissertation for my Master’s education. No writing for journals or conferences at all from 1986 to 1995. Why? I guess I had no reason to and no one asked me to do so. But can I write? I guess so because I wrote my Bachelor’s final year project and all the assignments for my post-graduate and Master’s programme and I also wrote a dissertation. And please don’t forget all the staff assessment reports, library activity and programme reports as well as project proposals that I had to write in my capacity as a librarian. So, why was I not writing? Again, my answers are: I had no reason to write, I don’t know what to write about, I don’t know how to write for a journal/conference etc etc etc …. and these are the same reasons I hear now. I’m feeling so guilty right now.

1996 – So, when did I begin to write for the profession? I came back to work in early 1996 after I had completed my M.Sc. in December 1995. I was a librarian at the UM Law Library and was asked by the Editor of Kekal Abadi to write about my M.Sc. programme. Kekal Abadi is a journal published by the UM Library. It’s still there but beginning 2008, there is only the digital copy (https://umlib.um.edu.my/library-publications/kekal-abadi/). There was no escaping this one since I was sponsored by UM and so I wrote. The first ever piece that I wrote was in the Malay language and it finally went into print – MSc (Information Studies) di Leeds Metropolitan University: Tahun 1994/1995. Kekal Abadi, Vol. 15, no. 1, 1996: 4-6.

Later on, a colleague informed me about a new journal that was going to be launched in Singapore. Since the journal is IT-related and I had nothing to write about, I did not give it much thought. Then I remembered that I did write an IT-related assignment for one of my M.Sc. subject that earned me a very good grade. I still had the soft copy then and I had a good look at it. I can’t remember what additional work I did on the assignment but I did submit it to the journal editor, it went through the double blind peer review process and it was published – The electronic journal. Network Information, Vol. 1, 1996: 15-28.

Prof. Dr. Zainab Awang Ngah was then a lecturer for the MLIS programme at the Faculty of Computer Science and Information Technology, University of Malaya. At that point in time, she was working on publishing a journal for the programme. The idea behind this was to provide a platform for the MLIS students and lecturers to publish their papers. She asked me to send a paper on my dissertation to the journal. I did and my article was published in the first ever issue of the Malaysian Journal of Library and Information Science (https://mjlis.um.edu.my/) – The use of CD-ROM databases by Malaysian postgraduate students in Leeds. Malaysian Journal of Library & Information Science, Vol. 1, no. 1, July 1996: 37-49.  Prof. Dr. Zainab Awang Ngah gave me back the copy of my article which she had edited and that was when I got my first taste of writing the right way. She made lots of comments and indirectly, she taught me how to write a scholarly article … never begin a sentence with numbers, numbers one to ten must be spelt out, one sentence does not make a paragraph, captions for tables on top, captions for illustrations at the bottom and much more. I guess that was when I caught the writing bug. It became an addiction but I still was very very very green when it came to sourcing for subject matter.

1999 – In November 1999, I left my post as a librarian and became a lecturer at the Faculty of Computer Science and Information Technology in UM. One of the requirements for promotion is writing and it is something you just have to do if you want to be promoted to an Associate Professor and later on a Professor. So, with the guidance of my colleagues at the Faculty, I began my writing journey slowly, very slowly but I had good mentors along the way. They invited me as a co-author and corrected my writings. Apart from that I was also supervising the MLIS students who were doing their dissertation and I was able to co-author with them on a number of papers. Prof. Dr. Zainab Awang Ngah gave me my fair share of articles to edit and this helped me to familiarise myself with the different writing styles, sentence construction and use of illustrations within an article.

In 2003, I was given the Hadiah Latihan Cuti Belajar to do my Ph.D. After weighing all possibilities, I decided to do it in UM and not overseas. Writing a thesis is something else but I had a good supervisor in Prof. Dr. Zainab Awang Ngah. Apart from making sure that I met all the deadlines for my thesis chapters, she also made sure that I presented at conferences and wrote articles for WOS and Scopus journals. Her target for me then was ten publications from my thesis (I need to count how many I actually wrote). After my Ph.D. graduation, I came back to the Faculty and was writing again.

2007 – In November 2007, I took up the post of Chief Librarian at the UM Library. I continued writing but I had limited time to conduct research. Therefore, I concentrated on documentary research and my writings were based on documents from the online databases and the Library. As time goes by, my scholarly writings slowed down and I was more comfortable giving PowerPoint presentations instead of full paper submissions. Now and then, I do submit full papers to conferences and to journals but not to the high impact journals. Sadly, I had more presentations than full papers during my term as the Chief Librarian. I could have spent some time converting the presentation into full papers but I did not … water under the bridge.

2017 – I retired in May 2017. Am I still writing? Yes but at my own pace. I do have a blog but my blog is a whole different thing altogether. I don’t blog about scholarly or academic matters but more of personal experiences and observations. I was actively writing news for the Berita PPM (https://beritappm.wordpress.com/) but has ended my term with PPM in July 2020. But, I am still writing as a member of two PPM committees and a member of IFLA-RSCAO. Do I want to write a book? Maybe yes and maybe no.

I’m trying to blog at least twice a month and write for a journal at least once a year. I have done the latter for 2019 (https://myrepositori.pnm.gov.my/xmlui/handle/123456789/4814) and 2020 (https://www.ifla.org/node/93203). The former? Still struggling

So to all fellow librarians out there, you are definitely not alone. Take the first step to write. Writing as a librarian is all about sharing your experiences with fellow librarians …. sharing how you plan and execute various activities and programmes. It’s about telling your colleagues your success stories as well as your failures. It’s not about getting paybacks but it’s more about writing for the profession so that we can let the masses know what our profession is all about. To me, the COVID-19 pandemic is a blessing in disguise. Libraries and librarians are at their best with various services, programmes and activities. There is so much subject matter to write about and numerous studies that can be undertaken for both the librarians and the users. So, take the challenge and write. Do write for the profession that has supported you. All the best from me to you.

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Looking back at 2020 in bits and pieces

We are now in the 6th day of the new year – 6 January 2021. A lot have happened in 2020 and most of it or rather all of it is not within our control. News of the presence of a virus was circulating sometime in December 2019, but the reality of it hit Malaysia in March 2020 when the Prime Minister declared a Movement Control Order (MCO) for the entire country on 18 March 2020. From that point in time, we went through various forms of MCO. The entire country is now under RMCO until 31 March 2021 but certain areas are either under CMCO or EMCO. The area where I am currently residing is under CMCO until 14 January 2021.

Various stages of MCO in 2020

I would normally begin the year with a new year run with my daughters and granddaughter. We would stay at the Majestic Hotel since our run would start out from Dataran Merdeka. There would be fireworks near the hotel. But the start of 2021 was different – no run and no fireworks. There were a few virtual runs that were on offer but nothing beats a real run. Instead, we stayed home, watched TV, read and send WA messages and then slept – a routine we followed throughout the MCO.

Renovating the Home – In November 2019, I began making plans to renovate my home. I moved into my current home in December 2003 and after 17 years, it has to be renovated. I managed to secure the services of a highly recommended contractor, Bernie. We met, made plans and after moving my stuff into storage, I gave the keys to my house to the contractor and moved into Suraiya’s house on 6 January 2020. Both Amelia and I brought what we needed for a 4-month stay. The renovation would take 4 months and would be ready by 6 April 2020 or so I thought. But, this was not meant to be. The MCO led to closure of all construction activities and Bernie was only able to resume his work on 1 June 2020. There were strict SOPs to follow but there were other problems. Some of Bernie’s suppliers have closed down and he has to look for new suppliers. This prolonged the process but I’m good since I have accepted the situation. The renovation is somewhat completed by 31 December 2020 but we had a new set of problems. Water was leaking from the unit above mine and fungus caused by water seepage from the backsplash from the roofing as well as backsplash from the roofing onto the balcony. We have resolved this and hopefully, I will get possession of my place by 31 January 2021. I have moved in my larger furniture and hopefully, I will start moving in stuff from storage. I decided to do the moving in and unpacking of my stuff at my own pace. I also need to weed out more stuff since I just realised that I can live with a lot less stuff.

Keeping Myself Busy – At the start of the MCO, I was able to keep myself busy. I was still a Council Member of PPM, a post I left on 25 July 2020, and I am still the Secretary for RSCAO. Therefore, I had a lot of overdue reports and news which I managed to complete. I also managed to write an article on how Malaysian libraries and librarians are dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic (https://www.ifla.org/node/93203). Apart from that, there were a number of online meetings either via Zoom or Google Meet. I was also fortunate enough to be invited as a panel member as well as a speaker for online talks or webinars.

IFLA WLIC 2020 in Dublin was cancelled and IFLA WLIC 2021 in Amsterdam will be held as a virtual congress. A lot of work has to go on for RSCAO before the virtual conference takes place in late August 2021. I also managed to sign up for two courses – one on writing stories with Ms Bernice Chauly and one for freelance translation with Mr Rozmin Tamrin.

Travel – International travels are definitely not on the table anymore. So my annual trip to Seoul and Osaka were not to be. Interstate travels were not allowed for quite a while but when the order was lifted, I made a few trips back home – mostly for my dental appointments, Zafe’s wedding reception and Hari Raya Haji. I was lucky enough to be able to do a short tour of public libraries in Sarawak before a travel shutdown.

What Else – I wrote my last blog post in July 2020 and has not written anything else since then. It is not for the lack of material but I guess I still cannot make blogging a habit. Apart from the bits and pieces written here, a lot more has been happening. Most of the time, I keep do keep a record of events of my life and an account of my feelings on my IG, Face Book and Twitter. I refer to these as microblogging. God willing, I will try to blog more.

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Siblings: Sisters

My siblings do appear in my postings but mostly through the photos that I put up onto my blog. Excluding my parents, there are 8 of us – 4 males and 4 females. I am number 7 in a row of male, male, female, male, female, female, female and male. There’s a 2-year gap from one to the other except for a 3-year gap between numbers 5 and 6 – 1944, 1946, 1948, 1950, 1952, 1955, 1957, 1959.

So I have 3 sisters above me. I do not really have a very early recollection of any of them. Even when I look at the our old black and white photos, no sudden flashbacks at all [sad but true]. I remember that my eldest sister, Nor Emah, went to a boarding school and then she came back for good to Kuantan. She has a circle of very close friends and what I remembered most was her birthday party that was held in our house at 857 Jalan Kemunting, Kuantan. Come to think of it, hers was the only birthday party we ever had where we had guests, food and games. She went on to be my Bahasa Melayu teacher at Sultan Abdullah School, Kuantan but only for a short time. I do remember carrying exercise books to my late father’s car and I do remember her marking those books at the dining table [we don’t have individual study desks]. But what I remember her most for are her glasses since she was the only one wearing them in my family then.

My earliest recollection of my second sister, Nor Edah, was that she was an athlete. She was always attending sports events and would always bring back cups (that’s what we call trophies then ‘cos they look like silver cups mounted on a block of wood). I also remember her going to school in her white Red Cross uniform and I guess she was an active one too.

I should have no problem recalling my earliest memories of my third sister, Nor Madras, but I do. Both of us went with our mum to join our dad in England where we stayed in Bromley for over a year. From our photos, I know that we are close but a 4-year old does not remember a lot of things from the past.

I came across an article about a phenomenon know as childhood amnesia. It said that children can remember events before the age of 3 when they are young but when they are older, those memories are lost. New research has put the starting point for amnesia at age 7. It went on to say that, “last June, Canadian researchers floated a possible cause: the precipitous growth of new cells in the hippocampus during infancy, known as neurogenesis. When brains are busy growing lots of new cells, they don’t store memories that would otherwise be long-term”. –


We grew up in the care of our late parents. We had our ups and downs but I do not ever remember having fights with them. There was no sibling rivalry. Why? My guess is that all 4 of us have very different tastes in everything and I guess it must be exasperating for my late mum to find one common thread going through her daughters.

I went through the weddings of Bee (my eldest sister’s home grown name) to Abdul Mubin Mat Lazim and Edah to Abu Bakar Awang. It was held at our house in Jalan Kemunting and by all standards it was lavish. I was the bridesmaid or rather the one who stands by their side on the wedding dais with an elaborate fan for both of them. And, I [announcing with pride] helped my late mum hand-made their bunga telur (one was paper flowers and the other was rabbits made from sponge), bunga pahar pelamin and even hand sewn their lapik talam hantaran (one was in red lace with balls and the other was in yellow lace – no mean feat since the lace had to be lined. My late mum is not into stored bought items. But at that time, there was no such thing as ready made or even ordered. Every thing has to be hand made. My upah was the bridesmaid dress of my choice – a silver brocade baju kurung moden for Bee’s wedding and a pink polka dot long dress for Edah’s wedding.

Bee now has 6 children (3 daughters and 3 sons) and Edah has 4 (a son and daughters) but we lost her husband in 1986. Al-fatihah to arwah Abu Bakar Awang. Ma (my 3rd sister home grown name) and I went on for tertiary studies and she eventually got married to Abdul Halim Saman and has a daughter. I was not that involved in her wedding preparation since I was working in Penang. My wedding was in 1984 – all store bought stuff since my sisters had little ones to look after and I don’t want my late mum to go through the process again. Ma, her husband and daughter were involved in an unfortunate accident at Permatang Badak some years ago but alhamdullillah all of them survived. She was badly hit and had to go through a recovery process that took some time.

Being the youngest has its perks. When I was much younger, they would take me to the movies. My first ever movie outing was at the Rex Cinema. It was a Cliff Richard and the Shadows movie – Summer Holidays. I could also sing a lot of songs ‘cos they would make me listen to the radio and write down the lyrics. They have hard cover exercise books with hand written song lyrics. That was the norm then. The kitchen was my forbidden territory ‘cos I had my mum, Bee, her friends and countless relatives in the kitchen all the time. My late parents would take in their nephews and nieces to stay with us for their examination years. Later on in life, my position in the kitchen was upgraded to a “dish washer” and “ingredients cutter”. So my culinary skills are zero then but I have improved … cooking is still not high on my list of likes. Even now I only have to mention a dish and lo and behold, one of them will make or buy it. I am indeed blessed.

After my confinement with my eldest daughter, Bee and her family came down to see how I was coping with a newborn. She passed on to me her experiences raising her children. To this day, I remember her telling me that babies should not sleep with their “plastic” diapers at night. She made sure both my daughters slept with cloth diapers. I would argue with her that it is cumbersome and she would give me an earful about being a responsible mother. So with my granddaughter, only cloth diapers at night. Edah and her children would come down to Ipoh every school holiday to look after my daughters. We would explore every nook and corner in Ipoh. When I was a student in ITM Dungun, her late husband would always be the supplier of instant noodles and mangoes. He had meetings in Kelantan and would never fail to stopover in Dungun. Ma would always laden me with fruits and food whenever I am at my late parents’ home. Being the youngest aunty and on university breaks, I was the designated babysitter to my nephews and nieces. Some were quite a handful but I love them no less.

Today, all of us are retired and my sisters are all in Kuantan. From my sisters, I have 11 nephews and nieces and 7 of them are working and residing in Kuala Lumpur. We have a “sisters only” WhatsApp group and we communicate with each other on a regular basis. We do have our minor misunderstandings but one of us will always make sure that it would not escalate into a big blowup. But it’s understandable – as we age, we tend to be more sensitive But, blood is indeed thicker than water. They are my go-to in times of need or whenever I am at my wit’s end. I now make it a point to balik kampung as often as I can or meet-up with them when they are in Kuala Lumpur.

Hari Raya Haji 2009.

Ina’s wedding in 2009. She is Bee’s daughter.

Lunch date in Kuantan in 2011.

Sue’s wedding in 2012. Sue is my eldest daughter.

Fariz’s wedding in 2014. Fariz is Bee’s youngest child. Ma was not with us in KL.

With our late brother, Yan in 2016. Al-fatihah to Yan.

Our trip to Seoul in 2017 but Ma was not with us on the trip.

Thank you Bee, Edah and Ma for being in my life.

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Hari Pustakawan Malaysia 2020 / Malaysia Librarian’s Day 2020

On 6 June 2020, Malaysian librarians and information professionals celebrated Hari Pustakawan or Librarian’s Day. Persatuan Pustakawan Malaysia (Librarians Association of Malaysia) or PPM had its beginnings from the Malayan Library Group which was registered on 6 June 1955 with the Registrar of Societies in Singapore. At PPM’s AGM on 30 March 2015, a proposal to celebrate Hari Pustakawan (HP) on 6 June of every year was made and agreed by the members, Thus, for the first time in 60 years, librarians in Malaysia celebrated their day but on a very small scale. From then on, we went on to celebrate in 2016, 2017, 2018 and 2019, still on a small scale since we have yet to get a Minister to make an official announcement as when Yang Berhormat Khairy Jamaluddin announced Hari Sukan Negara or National Sports Day on the second Saturday of October every year. It was an initiative of the Ministry of Youth and Sports. Under the same Ministry we have Hari Belia Negara or National Youth Day celebrated annually on 15 May. The first National Statistics Day was celebrated on 20 October 2017. It is now known as MyStats Day and 20 October is also the World Statistics Day.

That being that, let’s get back to 6 June 2020. I thought it would be the usual posting of congratulatory messages and wishes from those who are proud to be called librarians. Who would thought that we would celebrate it differently in 2020. Beginning 18 March 2020, the entire country was under the Movement Control Order (MCO). All libraries closed and librarians were working from home. The mode of library services went from physical to online. Our librarians’ creativity kicked in and what followed was expected but I did not expect it to be that huge. After an initial downtime which I attributed to planning and hatching of ideas, I saw an explosion of postings and e-posters from libraries and librarians on my FB. A group of four librarians known as Librarian IDEAS were running online forums weekly and I was lucky to be invited as a panel member twice. Some librarians went live and did all sorts of presentations. Some posted motivational notes to keep everyone else going. This went on till 12 May 2020. From then on, some librarians are back at work during the Conditional MCO that ended on 9 June 2020. Recovery MCO began on 10 June 2020 and will end on 31 August 2020 – this saw the reopening of some libraries if not all.

Back again to 6 June 2020 … this is my second “back to” moment. I was trying to figure out how I can impart knowledge about HP to librarians and my FB friends and bring attention to that special day. I decided to do a countdown. My countdown began on 19 May 2020 – 18 days before 6 June 2020. It was a totally random number of days – something done on the spur of the moment. Late in the night for 18 days, I would post something about HP. I tagged our PM but it was to his old FB account. I found his current account but it was it does not accept tags.. I also tagged our Minister of Tourism, Arts and Culture. I tagged Astro Awani, Berita Harian Online (Nasional) and BERNAMA TV – all with the hope of catching their attention but to no avail, but at the very least I tried. Four more days to go before HP and I ran out of ideas on what to post. A shout out to my FB friends did bring in responses that literally saved me.

Behind the scene, the PPM Council was preparing for a live discussion of the theme of HP 2020 – #StayingRelevant and #TetapRelevant – on the morning of 6 June 2020. Dr. Ghazali Mohd. Fadzil and Dr. Rashidah Bolhassan will be engaging themselves in a discussion. And then the good news came through – one of PPM’s Council members managed to get the Minister of Tourism, Arts and Culture, Yang Berhormat Dato Sri Hajah Nancy Shukri to deliver her congratulatory message just before the live forum. My dream came true. I was totally on cloud nine and was pitching myself silly. A write-up on the theme and a speech – we are all set. Postings in the form of wishes for HP were coming in fast and thick from libraries, librarians, bookstores, book suppliers, library vendors and individuals such as the former Minister of Education and a National Laureate.

Come 6 June 2020, we had the Minister’s speech, two live forums and more than 160 congratulatory postings. I’m still trying to figure out how this came about but I think our time indoors gave all of us more time to appreciate ourselves as librarians or we have so much time on our hands to do what we did. Thank you everyone who made HP 2020 possible and let’s do this again on 6 June 2021.

Personal achievement and time to pass the baton

Posted in Libraries and librarians, Retirement, Thoughts | Tagged | 2 Comments