Malaysia is currently moving towards a digital society with the MADANI concept, which envisions a civilized society based on values, tolerance, and possessing intellectual, spiritual, and economic strength. The digital MADANI society embraces technology and applies a more open concept to foster and promote creative, innovative, and efficient culture. Believing that libraries and information professionals have the opportunity to transform society into a digital MADANI society, the Annual Conference of Malaysia Libraries 2023 or Persidangan Tahunan Perpustakaan Malaysia 2023 (PTPM 2023) adopted Digital MADANI Society: Opportunities to Make a Difference as its theme.

Held at the Sultan Salahuddin Abdul Aziz Shah Polytechnic in Shah Alam, Selangor from 2 to 4 August 2023, the conference was launched by a National Laureate, Emeritus Professor Dr. Muhammad bin Haji Salleh who delivered the keynote address. The conference featured a diverse range of topics, speakers, and workshops, making it a valuable platform for knowledge sharing and networking. The conference attracted over 400 participants including librarians from various types of libraries, information experts, academics, industry players and companies providing services in the fields of libraries, information technology and digital services. This event allowed attendees to actively engage with and reach out to a wider range of stakeholders across the country.

Address by Ghazali Mohd Fadzil, PPM President

The main objective of the conference was to bring together participants in the information services industries to share new ideas, establish business or research relations and find partners for future collaborations. In fact, PTPM 2023 was a highly informative and engaging event that brought together professionals, researchers, and experts from various fields to discuss and exchange ideas on the opportunity that libraries and the industries can provide to make a difference to our society. This three- day conference included various events, including a pre-conference session, 33 paper presentations, one plenary session, 14 trade exhibitions and innovations in library and information services, as well as the Malaysian Library Innovation Initiative competition.

Participants at the conference

The conference began with a pre-conference on 2 August 2023 held at the Selangor Public Library. With the theme AI Revolution: Transforming Libraries for the Future, the pre-conference featured several speakers who discussed AI and its applications. The topics discussed included AI for All: Embracing the Future of Intelligent Technology and Building Intelligent Libraries: Leveraging AI for Better Information Access. A forum titled The Impact of AI on Libraries: Quo vadis? was also held and it provided the basis for wider discussions on how the application of AI would greatly improve library operations and services, the pros and cons of AI and how it can heighten the relevance of libraries in an ever-changing digital society. More than 100 people participated in the pre-conference.

The conference sessions were designed to provide participants with an in-depth understanding on several subthemes such as AI and Expert Systems: Powering the Future of Libraries. Many libraries have leveraged these technologies to provide more personalized, efficient, and effective services and enable users to find and access the resources they need more easily. The second subtheme was Community Libraries: Ambassador of the Digital MADANI Citizenship. Most of the papers presented on the roles of community libraries as a centre for networking and the promotion of government aspirations. The third subtheme was Library and the Digital MADANI Society: Practice & Prospects. We believe that the prospects for libraries in promoting a digital MADANI society are promising. With their ultimate focus as a lifelong learning center, community builder, and provider of access to information, libraries are well-positioned to act as key players in cultivating communities with intellectual, spiritual, and material strength. By continuously innovating and adapting to changing technological trends, building collaborative networks with stakeholders, and educating the community through Media and Information Literacy, libraries can play an important role in building stronger and more connected communities in the future. Believing that school libraries play a crucial role in meeting the demands and needs of the digital generation, the subtheme School Library and the New Demand of the digital MADANI generation was chosen. The focus of this theme was how school libraries strengthened their resources as well as implemented new technologies to enhance services in supporting student and school development. Redefining the Use of Social Media in the Digital Age provides information on how libraries leverage the strengths of social media to promote library services, engage with communities, provide information, encourage digital literacy, combat misinformation and build partnerships.

The following are the key takeaways and insights gained from PTPM 2023.

  • The combination of AI and human intelligence can enhance the quality of librarians’ work.
  • Librarians, researchers and academicians should work together to leverage the benefits of AI technology.
  • Integrating intellectual expertise in the field of librarianship with other fields will generate impactful innovation.
  • Leveraging on social media capabilities can enhance visibility, user engagement, and the connectivity of library promotional materials to customers and even global users.
  • The role of the library needs to be broader in disseminating knowledge without borders and facilitating learning initiatives for the local community, especially in remote areas.
  • School resource centres need to adapt to digital technology to meet the information needs of the MADANI digital native generation.

PTPM 2023 was a well-organised and informative event that successfully achieved its objectives. The knowledge gained, connections made, and recommendations gathered will contribute significantly to the professional development and the advancement of the field.

Contributed by  the organising committee, PTPM 2023 & Persatuan Pustakawan Malaysia