DESIDOC Journal of Library & Information Technology, Vol. 35, No. 4, July 2015, pp. 273-280, DOI: 10.14429/djlit.35.4.8844
© 2015, DESIDOC
Received 30 May 2015, online published 28 July 2015
Information Technology Usage Scenario in Academic Libraries of Higher Education in Chhattisgarh: Challenges and Opportunities
Rushmansab Gurikar and Bhaskar Mukherjee*
*Department of Library & Information Science, Guru Ghasidas Vishwavidyalaya, Bilaspur, C.G.
The Chhattisgarh state was formed in 2001 carved out from the then Madhya Pradesh. Ever since its establishment as a fully fledged state, a considerable number of academic institutions have sprung-up. To promote education a Indian Institute of Management (IIM) and All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) have been established along with universities and colleges. As libraries are heart of any institution, present study attempts to analyse the status of libraries in various academic institutions of Chhattisgarh. Survey method was followed to collect the data and six libraries were selected for detailed analysis. There are one central university, one state university, one special university, one open university, along with NIT and IIM. The results indicate that all libraries are discharging their services with functional library buildings. However, their collection is uneven and staff strength is less. Most of the libraries are yet to develop any collection development policies and still collection of non-book materials is very less. Although most of the libraries have implemented automation either by using Libsys or SOUL, staff of the libraries have required skill to handle various bugs in using software. They have a problem of fear of using software. Digitisation of collection is not well adopted in most of the libraries.To excel in services, staff training and staff appointment seem to be urgent need of these libraries.
Keywords: Academic libraries higher education automation software digitisation
The word ‘Chhattisgarh’, is a combination of two terms, i.e.,‘Chhattis’ and ‘Garh’ means land of thirty six forts. The State was formed on 1 November 2000 carved from Madya Pradesh state.1 Presently, Chhattisgarh has 27 districts with 5 divisions2 and spread over 135, 190 sq-km. As per 2011 censes the literacy rate of Chhattisgarh is 71.04 % which ranks 27th among the states in India3. This possibly may be because of less number of educational institutions in the State. The existing institutions are struggling to provide even basic infrastructure facilities like libraries to support learning. It is well known that the libraries are true learning centres of education, which support the acquisition of knowledge and skills. Nyamboga4 in his study reported that libraries and LIS professionals are great help in providing information literacy skills training to the users to use available resources in the library.
Libraries are an integral part of and have an imperative role in the functioning of an academic and research organisation. They provide academic support to the users of an academic institution. According to Annual Status of Education Report (ASER)5 report, 10.5 % of primary schools are don’t have a library, 63.3 % of schools have a library but are not being used by students in the State. There are only 26.2 % of schools that have library and are being used by students in Chhattisgarh. As per 7th AISES (2007) report 77.24 % secondary schools and 89.59 % higher secondary schools in India where library facility exists. In contrast, 33.05 % of secondary schools and 65.44 % of higher secondary schools in Chhattisgarh,library facility exists6. Presently, there are 106 AICTE-approved institutions (2014-15).7 175 government degree colleges.8 There are 12 state universities, 7 private universities and 1 central university9. Few institutions of national importance and some research institutions are working with the existence of libraries in Chhattisgarh.
The Chhattisgarh Public Library Act was enacted in 2008, however, it is yet to be implemented10. The Act has recommended establishing two state level libraries, i.e., State Central Library and State Reference Library in Raipur and Bilaspur respectively. It also states that every district should have a district library acting as apex body for district libraries. Finance is the key concern for public libraries.States like Tamil Nadu11, Karnataka12 collect library cess on property tax. Kerala reserved 1 % of the total education budget for upliftment of public libraries; and Goa collects library cess on liquor. However, there is no provision of library cess in Chhattisgarh Public Library Act. There is provision of budget allocation for public libraries in five year plan and non plan budgets.13”
The library scenario of Chhattisgarh is not well discussed so far. While PSG Kumar14 explained the development and movement of public libraries in Chhattisgarh, Kaur & Walia15 mentioned that LIS schools are provided and have pro-vital role in development of skilled professionals in the State. In terms of different types of libraries, Chopra & Mukherjee16 argued the need of networking among academic libraries as an important step for overcoming the resource access barriers among libraries of the then Madhya Pradesh. However, lack of funds for establishing such network were identified as a hurdle. In terms of school libraries, Bhandarkar17 discussed that condition of secondary school library are too poor in Chhattisgarh state. 33.0 % schools don’t have any library set-up. In terms of special libraries, Pandya18 in his study mentioned that although agricultural libraries in the State are in initial stage of development, they are prosperous in the state. Ahmed19 in his study pointed that for a state like Chhattisgarh, the implication of ICT in libraries although leads to new horizon, lack of personnel skills, willingness among professionals and their training, support from the authorities to execute the policies are, however, few drawbacks. Ahmed & Tomar20 in their study mentioned the usage of social networking sites to improve the conditions of libraries in a State like Chhattisgarh.
The overall objective of this study is to analyse the current status of libraries, especially academic libraries of the Chhattisgarh. Due to limitation of time, however, in the present study we have analysed some selected academic libraries in the state. The specific objectives are to:
(a) Compare the status of academiclibraries in Chhattisgarh in terms of infrastructure, staff, facilities/ services offered, collection development strategies;
(b) Understand the extent of ICT facilities available in libraries; and
(c) Suggest possible improvements for the libraries in the state.
To know the status of academic libraries, the journey was started to scan the websites of various academic libraries of the State. However, because of the fact that most of the academic libraries in this region still don’t have any individual webpage. it was difficult to expand the study in this direction.
Since, the intention of this study was to know the status of libraries in academic institutions of Chhattisgarh, for fulfilment of set objectives of this study, survey method was found suitable. A structured close-ended questionnaire were developed and distributed to all librarians of the academic libraries of higher education of Chhattisgarh. In spite of repeated efforts, only six libraries returned the questionnaires.
Table 1 shows the available infrastructure of identified libraries. All identified libraries have separate library buildings to discharge services. Although, preservation and conservation of documents are essential aspects of maintenance, apart from PRSU, no other library has attached bindery for repair of damaged documents. This may be because of that the libraries are finding it suitable to outsource the job of binding.
Personnel are significant trinity in the library. However, it is observed in the present study that human resources in the academic libraries of Chhatisgarh are not satisfactory. Almost 1/3rd (33.58 %) posts are vacant. In the present scenario when the users have diversified needs and libraries are attempting their best, shortage of staff may be the greatest hindrance towards performing quality service. Therefore, it is necessary that, the higher authorities of this institution should take necessary steps to recruit the vacant positions in the libraries. The highest number of personnel (29) is working in PRSU and lowest number (5) in IIM. It is also noticed from Table1 that IIM and IGKV libraries are running with 44.44 % and 41.67 % shortage of staff respectively. Most of the working personnel are either semi-professionals or non-professionals in these libraries and there is shortage of professionals in the library.
Table 2 reveals that, the libraries are kept open for users at least for 9 hours (IGKV, CVRU) or up to 13 hours (IIM). The daily visitors of libraries varies widely from library to library and ranging from 100 to 500. This wide range is probably because of the registered user community are much higher in general academic libraries than specialised academic libraries.For the purpose of classifying the documents Dewey Decimal Classification scheme (DDC) is adopted in NIT, GGU, CVRU, PRSU and IIM libraries. Whereas, IGKV, being a special library, uses Universal Decimal Classification (UDC). For the purpose of cataloguing the documents AACR is adopted in every library, except CVRU where no cataloguing scheme is used. For accessing library collection, OPAC is being used in GGU and PRSU, Web OPAC in IIM, and both OPAC and Web OPAC in NIT and IGKV libraries. Common facilities like lending, reprography, and internet access are provided in all libraries. However, reservation of documents and printing facilities are not provided in few libraries. It is interesting to note that traditional services like display of new arrivals, current awareness service (CAS), reference service, lending of books are still in use in most of the libraries but document delivery service (DDS), referral service, abstracting and indexing services, and inter-library loan services are missing in services. The possible reasons may be inadequate staff.
From Table 3, it is clear that the budget of IIM is more than double than that of central university (GGV) and the well developed state-funded (IGKV). The state-funded library- PRSU has much less funds which is a matter of concern. Libraries like IGKV, IIM follow diverse policies to acquire collection and taking users’ need from administrator to research scholars to build library collection. However, demand from research scholars and request of students are not considered for collection development in GGU & CVRU. So far, IIM has lower amount of collections (<10,000) than other 4 selected libraries. Possible reasons may be the IIM is comparatively newer than other organisations. The amount of other collections like audio books, periodicals, databases & e-journals, and back volumes available in these libraries are mentioned in Table 3.
The uses of information communication technology (ICT) in libraries enhances services in time to its users. As libraries are one of the important services sector of the society, an attempt has been made to know how far ICTs are implemented in academic libraries of Chhattisgarh, what extent the professionals (at least Assistant Librarians & above) are well accustomed with handing ICT, what type of support they are receiving for ICT enactment and what problems they are so far facing. Table 4 displays the status of ICT in academic libraries.
As indicated in Table 4, specialised academic libraries (IIM and NIT) are using commercialised LibSys software and general academic libraries using INFLIBNET’s SOUL for their house-keeping operations. The open source software, KOHA, is being used in IGKV for library automation. It is important to note that, although library professionals are accustomed with day-to-day used software, personnel, however, are unavailable for handling linux, web designing, programming, etc. Presently, the day-to-day problems are being solved by getting technical support from suppliers and consultants. Outsourcing is yet to a phenomena in these libraries. Furthermore, the library staff of IIM don’t have any constraint in using their LibSys software, however, staff of GGU has issue in using the software SOUL. Libraries showed their willingness to handle challenges, but lack of ICT skills and less manpower are major constraints while operating the software in libraries. However, training to staff are not conducted to overcome such constraints.
No library in the world is self-sufficient. Because of diversified users’ need enrolling a library under an existing network system, probably, overcomes problems of resource crunch to some extent. The same scenario is observed in libraries of Chhattisgarh where libraries are serving better being a member of either INFLIBNET or AICT or CERA and providing access to wide resource through IP authentication. However, the private university CVRU is yet to enrol under any digital consortium. In Table 3 it is identified that IIM don’t have considerable number of print collections, however, as indicated in Table 5, library have access to quite high number of (15000+) online journals. The progress of digitisation of theses and dissertations under Shodhganga project is less in case of GGU as compared to PSRU and IGKV. The possible reason may be the lack of staff.
The following findings are drawn:
(1) Libraries of the most of the institutions function with basic infrastructure. However, scarcity of personnel is common. To excel in need-based services, it is important that staff should be adequate. For maintaining existing services and adding new services, skilled staff is essential. In spite of the fact that present day libraries become more virtual, staff is still needed for maintaining all services in addition to virtual set-up.
(2) Budget is another important pre-requisite for enhancing library services, collection, etc. However, the budget provision of the state- funded universities is quite low of this region.
(3) To develop balanced collections, recommendation from all sections of library users are essential. However, most of the universities follow proto-type policies for developing collections and they don’t feel it essential to accept recommendation from research scholars, students or administrators. Most of the library have their collection mainly in books or back volumes of journals. Other resources such as non-book materials, standard and patterns, theses and dissertations, are very less.
(4) Keeping pace with present needs, most of the libraries have already automated their libraries. Lack of software-handling skills, and fear of using software are common among staff of the libraries. To overcome such scenario, continous training of library personnel is essential. Further, it is well depicted in the results that libraries using LibSys software have more facilities of automating library jobs while libraries using SOUL have limited options. Therefore, it is important that software provider should consider this issue seriously otherwise their demand will likely to be less in near future.(5) The number of accessible online journals is highest in IIM, probably because of that they do not have enough collection of print books. This is followed by GGU and PSRU. Although, GGU is a central university and PSRY is one of the oldest university in the State, their access facility is still quite less. The university should take it seriously and should channel their budget more towards subscribing journals for their clients or approaching INFLIBNET to increase the accessibility of their online journal database. On the other hand, in digitisation of theses, IGKV is far ahead than other libraries like PSRU (2354) and GGV (100). Probably, non-adequacy of staff is one of reason.
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Dr Bhaskar Mukherjee is an Associate Professor in the Department of Library and Information Science, Guru Ghasidas Vishwavidyalaya, Bilaspur (C.G.) is a Doctorate in the field of Library & Information Science. Dr Mukherjee has been serving this profession since last 17 years at various positions. He has contributed 30 research articles, so far in various highly reputed journals. He is recipient of Raja Rammohun Roy Foundation award for contributing best article, Prabhakar Rao Gold Medal Award for positioning Ist class First in BSc(Geology) and UTD Gold Medal Award for positioning 1st class First in BLISc & MLISc. Currently, he is also serving as Reviewer of various highly reputed journals in the field and allied fields. His research interests include: Webometrics, open access, information storage and retrieval, knowledge organisation, etc.
Mr Rushmansab Gurikar is working as Assistant Professor (Adhoc Faculty) since last two years in the Department of Library & Information Science, Guru Ghasidas Vishwavidyalaya, Bilaspur. So far he has published 5 articles in various international journals. His areas of interests include: Digital librarianship, open content analysis and Information retrieval system.