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Oral history is a field of study and a method of gathering, preserving and interpreting the voices and memories of people, communities, and participants in past events. Oral history is both the oldest type of historical inquiry, predating the written word, and one of the most modern, initiated with tape recorders in the 1940s and now using 21st-century digital technologies. Original Source : https://www.oralhistory.org/

The library has embarked on a journey to record and document ‘tacit knowledge’ of its retired scholars; many who are distinguished and reputable experts in their fields.  A workshop was conducted in 2018 attended by all team members at Janda Baik to gain a knowledge on theories and techniques on conducting oral history.


Professor Emeritus Dato ’Dr. Isahak Bin Haron

Professor Emeritus Dato ’Dr. Isahak Bin Haron was born in Penang Kumbar Bay on December 18, 1940. YBhg Professor received his early education in the Malay Gulf of Penang from 1948 to 1952 and later received his secondary education at St.George’s Balik Pulau School until 1956. After graduating with a Certificate in Education (LCE) he continued his education at Penang Free School until he passed the Higher Education Certificate in 1960. YBhg Professor received a BA (Hons) Class 2 Higher Education Diploma from the University of Malaya in 1964 and a Med Degree. From the University of Sydney in 1971 and later obtained a PhD from the University of Chicago, USA in 1977. He was also the Best PhD Dissertation Winner from 1977-1979 and was awarded the Susan Rosenberger Award.

  • As a Malaysian Radio Announcer (from January to May 1964)
  • Teacher in Sekolah Menengah Padang Midin, Kuala Terengganu in 1965
  • Lecturer in Education at Temenggong Ibrahim College, Johor Bahru from 1966 to 1971 and Lecturer at the Faculty of Education of the University of Malaya
  • YBhg Professor has also served as a Professor in Pedagogical Studies, Faculty of Education University of Malaya and Professor of Education in Faculty of Education and Human Development from Sultan Idris Tanjong Malim University of Education.

Among the University’s Experience of Education, Professor has held several important positions as Deputy Dean, Dean, Deputy Vice Chancellor at the University of Malaya and an important post at the University of Tanjung Malim Education. YBhg Professor Emeritus Dato ‘Dr Isahak Bin Haron was conferred the title of “Emeritus Professor” by the University of Malaya in 2004 and the Honorary Degree of Honorary Principal of the State with the title Dato’ by the Yang di-Pertua of Penang State in 1996. YBhg Professor has also served on several Committees in the Language and Library Council and at the MARA Education Foundation as Board Member and Chairman of the Education Planning Committee and Board Member on several Committees in the Ministry of Education.

Dato’ Dr Zaiton Osman

Dato’ Zaiton Osman was born in March 1944 in Singapore and holds a Bachelor’s degree from the University of Singapore in history. At the time, there were no local institutions offering specialist courses in the field of librarianship. The option is to pursue a study abroad at your own expense or to register with the Library Association in London and take the examinations of the body of study. Dato ‘Dr Zaiton made her second choice and succeeded in the prescribed examinations and became an Associate of the Library Association (ALA) in 1973. She continued her studies and obtained a Master’s and Doctorate degree from Loughborough University of Technology, England.

  • Dato ‘Dr Zaiton Osman was appointed by the University of Malaya as Head Librarian of the University of Malaya Library from September 10, 1993 until March 31, 2002.
  • Dato ‘Dr Zaiton is also an active member of the Association of Librarians in Malaysia and has been appointed president of the association and has previously represented PPM as a member of the Board of Directors of the Selangor Public Library Corporation.

Professor Emeritus Datuk Dr. Nik Safiah Karim

Professor Emeritus Datuk Dr. Nik Safiah Karim was born on December 17, 1939 in Kampong Banggol, Kota Bharu, Kelantan. She received her early education at Sekolah Rendah Inggeris Perempuan Kota Bahru(now known as Sekolah Rendah Zainab). Then, she went on to study at the Malay Women’s College, Jalan Damansara, Kuala Lumpur (now known as Tunku Kurshiah College, Seremban). After that, she studied at St. Francis Institution, Malacca until she graduated from the Higher School Certificate in 1959. In 1965 she obtained a Bachelor of Arts degree in Linguistics from the University of Malaya. Later in 1975 she obtained his Doctor of Philosophy in Linguistics from Ohio University, USA. Her academic career began with her appointment as a tutor in the Department of Malay Studies, University of Malaya in 1963. Throughout her career, she held the position of lecturer, Associate Professor and later was appointed Professor in the Department of Malay Studies.

  • Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences twice from 1982 to1983 and 1992 to 1994.
  • Head of the Department of Malay Studies from 984 to 1986 and the first Director of the Academy of Malay Studies from 1990 until 1992.
  • Between 1989 and 1990, she was seconded to the Language and Library Hall as Deputy Director General. There she continued to invest in the struggle for the need of the Malay language not only in the country but also throughout the world. This is reflected in her 14-year appointment in the Lembaga Pengelola Dewan Bahasa dan Pustaka and Ahli Jawantankuasa Tetap Bahasa Melayu (JKTBM) representing Malaysia at the Brunei Darussalam, Indonesia and Malaysia (MABBIM) Malay Language Council meetings. She is also an invited member of the International Malay Language Council (MABM).

Profesor Emeritus Datuk Dr Rahmah Bt Bujang

Prof. Emeritus Datuk Dr Rahmah Bujang was born on March 18, 1947 in Pontian, Johor, and currently resides in Petaling Jaya, Selangor.  She is well known for her drama genre and has extensive experience as a teacher, scriptwriter, drama researcher and drama director. She received her early education in Pontian English School, Government English School, Pontian, English College, Johor Bahru and later went on to study in the Department of Malay Studies, University of Malaya in drama.  She was the first student to study the subject of drama (1969), and later studied aristocratic cinema as a Malay theater art for the University of Malaya School of Literature (1973). She later served as a lecturer at UM in 1972-1973. In 1974, she pursued his PhD at the University of Hull, Humberside and studied Boria.

  • Returning to Malaysia in 1978, Prof. Emeritus Datuk Dr Rahmah Bujang works as a lecturer in the Malay Studies Department, UM. She also served as the Principal of the Tuanku Kurshiah Hostel, UM and also served as the Director of the UM Cultural Center from January 1, 1997 – December 31, 1999 and began her Master of Arts degree in Music and Drama Arts.
  • In 1983 she was named Associate Professor and in 1994 she was promoted to Professor. She also took over as Head of the Malay Arts Department in 1995 when the Department of Malay Studies was transformed into the Academy of Malay Studies (APM) until her retirement.
  • After her retirement she served on the Lembaga Pengarah Institut Teknologi Seni Melaka and was awarded the Darjah Seri Melaka in 1998. She was appointed expert panel of the ‘Projek Pengumpulan Istilah Kesusasteraan’ MABBIM/DBP, Panel Penilai Hadiah Sastera Malaysia (1978-1986) and a panel of experts on the Encyclopedia project at DBP. She has also been appointed as advisor, assessor and chairman and speaker of theater activities organized by the Ministry of Arts and Culture.

Mrs Khoo Siew Mun

Mrs Khoo Siew Mun was born on February 5, 1938 and currently resides in Petaling Jaya, Selangor. She graduated with BA (Hons) in 1961 and then pursued her postgraduate studies and graduated with MEcons in 1968. Mrs Khoo was the Chief Librarian of University of Malaya from 12th October 1984 to 5th February 1993. It was her vision to establish the University of Malaya Library as a premier research and teaching library in Malaysia via palpable evidence of excellent library service and innovation. She considered the following as her most important contributions to the library :
• Coordinated efforts to solve some really troublesome problems

• Helped the UM administration to accept that postgraduate professional training is a right of the staff; and a need for good professional library service thereby initiating postgraduate programs for librarians to pursue studies abroad and thus instilling self-confidence in professional librarians so that they know they are on par with international library staff expertise in different parts of the world.

• Established a firm esprit de corps among the staff, making it possible to undertake a variety of major services for the UM community, while enjoying working together


She started her career at UM as a research assistant at the Economics Department followed by a tutor at the same department from 1963 to 1965. Then she worked as an Editor at the UM Press until 1967. From 1967 to 1975, she was the Bibliography, Documentation & Publications Assistant at the Faculty of Economy before becoming the Deputy Librarian from 1975 to 1984. She then became the Chief Librarian from 1984 to 1993.

Professor Dr. Rokiah Che Ismail

Born in Tumpat, Kelantan Prof Rokiah started her primary education in a Government English School in Tumpat. She was taught the thinking process at an early age and that got her interested in learning and exploring new knowledge. She would stop by the dispensary on her way to school and asked questions such as why do kids have to take Vitamin B and anti worm. She would argue with the professionals from young and she said it was good practice to develop the mind. When she was in Standard 3, she made up her mind to become a medical doctor. She continued her secondary schooling at Pasir Mas, Kelantan. Motivation and the desire to excel is very important to her. At that time, she was the only Malay female from a rural area who was offered an entry into medical school and had to work very hard to compete with other races.
Initially, she was offered to go abroad to study medicine but she preferred to do it locally so that she could study diseases in Malaysia. She was then offered to pursue her study abroad for training to become a lecturer. Immediately after that she enrolled in dermatology and also diploma in venerology.

  • 6 months training in UMMC
  • Postgrad training in UK (University of Birmingham)
  • Queen Elizabeth Hospital for 6 months (MRCP).
  • Institute of Dermatology and Diploma in Venerology.
  • On 1st January 1979, Prof Rokiah came back as a Lecturer in UM teaching Internal Medicine, Dermatology & STD.
  • February 1979, proposed a STD Clinic (first in the country).
  • 1981-1982, increase awareness on HIV.
  • 1983, appointed as the Associate Professor.
  • In 1986 UMMC had its first case of HIV. Prof Rokiah was in the taskforce committee to educate and train health practitioners.
  • In 1986 also, she was appointed the Deputy Dean (Student Affairs).


Last Update: 27/12/2021