Who are the people behind the scenes who helped ensure the smooth running of NUS Libraries? LINUS editor, Maggie Yin catches up with Dr Sim Chuin Peng, the new head of Chinese Library since January 2008 to talk about his new role and responsibilities.What’s it like being head of Chinese library and how has your job scope changed? My responsibilities are broader as head of Chinese Library. In addition to individual work plans, I am taking on administrative work, as well as the development and maintenance of the collection and services of the Chinese Library to ensure the library stays competitive internationally. You are the first library staff to obtain a PhD. What was your thesis on and have people’s perception of you changed since? The topic that I undertook on for my thesis is the production and circulation of commercially-printed examination aids after the mid-Ming period (1465-1644). I explored the major types of examination aids as well as the co-relation between readers, publishers and authors of these aids in my thesis.
I don’t think there’s any change in people’s perception, except some colleagues have been asking for medical certificate from meJ . Some other colleagues are curious to find out more about my research topic and how I manage my roles as a husband, a father, a student and as full-time employee concurrently.
Why did you decide to become a librarian?
I was offered 3 jobs in 1993 when I completed my undergraduate study. I like to read as well as to do academic research on books, and with encouragement and advice from my AE’s supervisor (he is also my Masters and PhD thesis supervisor), it was an easy decision to join the profession and stay in the job till now.
How have libraries changed compared to when you first joined the profession?
In the past, the library will maximise its space for bookshelves to hold books that the library acquires. The demand for study space and discussion corners do not allow libraries to do so now. There are also more PCs in libraries now. Card catalogues have been replaced by online catalogues.Today, in addition to general knowledge, academic librarians are expected to develop a sound knowledge on a specific subject so that they can provide quality support to teaching and research in the University.
What do you do to “chill out”?
Family outings, swimming, watching sport programmes, undertake new research topics.