DESIDOC Journal of Library & Information Technology, Vol. 35, No. 4, July 2015, pp. 281-287 DOI: 10.14429/djlit.35.4.9070
© 2015, DESIDOC
Received 4 June 2015, online published 28 July 2015
Status of Automation in Select University Libraries in Delhi: A Study
Manorama Tripathi* and Mahesh Chand**
Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi-110 067
Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi-110 067
The present paper highlights the status of university libraries in Delhi. It focuses on their collection, and computing infrastructure and services. The paper gives suggestions for evolving university libraries from strength to strength. It concludes by observing that the university libraries in Delhi need to be strengthened both as virtual and physical entities. The virtual entities will widen access to the users on 24X7 basis while the physical entities will lead to the overall development where students interact, debate, contribute and in the process trigger a new idea which may further extend the boundaries of knowledge.
Keywords: Libraries' Status University libraries assistive technologies online resources
The union territory of Delhi is the capital of India and is spread over an area of about 1483 square kilometers1. It has a growth rate of about 20 %, which is 3 % above the national growth rate.The literacy rate of the city is about 86.21 % which is 13.12 % above the national literacy rate2 . The Digital India Plan3, introduced by Government of India focuses on using technology to enhance and augment governance, connectivity, education, health and public services. It aims to provide 4 lac public internet access points, Wi-Fi in 2.5 lac schools, all universities across the country. This is also contingent upon the well equipped and well-stocked libraries which support and cater to the information and academic needs of the teachers and students. Libraries of universities have long been regarded as the heart or hub or pivotal places of their institutions. To achieve the aforementioned goals, the libraries of higher education institutions need to be focused upon and strengthened inter alia. In this context, the present paper attempts to study some select university libraries in Delhi. ”
Mitra, Shukla & Sen4 studied the services provided by some select university libraries to differently abled students and found that they are not adequate enough to cater to their information needs. They have recommended the equipment and infrastructure which libraries should have to cater to the needs of the differently-abled students. Tripathi & Shukla5 have highlighted the uses of assistive technologies in academic libraries in India, UK, USA and Canada. They have suggested that the assistive technologies must be deployed in university libraries to facilitate users with disabilities and make them self reliant learners. Libraries, worldwide are embracing the use of social media in order to enhance their services and strengthen their ties with the academic communities6. Ballard7 has shown how Google’s tools and other services like Facebook, Twitter, Library thing, IMBD offer online opportunities to libraries to connect to their users.
Libraries spend colossal amount of money in procuring books and journals, which are not optimally used by the users. The implementation of web discovery services facilitates and enhances the use of library resources. The users are in a position to search data which is originally housed in different silos of OPACs, online databases, institutional repositories and ETDs, through a single search interface8. The ACRL Research Planning and Review Committee identifies and publishes every two years the top trends which need to be accentuated by the libraries of higher education. In 2012 and 2014,9,10 it identified the following issues: It said that the academic libraries must communicate how they actively contribute to student and faculty recruitment retention and success of the institutions. They must undertake data curation and digital preservation activities for the present and future generations of the students and the researchers. They must use technologies and tools like Web scale discovery services, social media, vending machines for loan, mobile apps in order to serve their users in an innovative manner. They further need to undertake Return on Investment (ROI) studies in order to prove that their expenditure is yielding big dividends and is in line with their value. Libraries must provide device neutral digital services. Their websites must be of responsive design; they must support open access and open education. Libraries must use Almetrics to show the impact of research generated at their universities. They must also support digital humanities. For e-books, libraries should adopt patron driven acquisition.
It also accentuates on the proper training, continuing education and appropriate deployment of staff for providing adequate services to the users. The libraries need to adapt themselves as per the change in information seeking behavior and expectations of the users. They should focus on providing instant and seamless access to information resources as well as human resources (in the form of library staff) as and when required by the user community.
The objectives of the present study are to highlightthe :
(a) Collection, and computing infrastructure and e-services offered by university libraries in Delhi.
(b) Use of assistive technologies by the university libraries in Delhi
(c) Major challenges faced by the university libraries.
The higher education landscape of Delhi comprises 4 institutions of national importance, 10 deemed, 5 state, and 5 central universities. Nine university libraries were studied for the analysis. The data were collected by administering a questionnaire to the staff of these universities. The websites were also visited for collecting additional information. The data was collected during March–April 2015.The libraries which were studied were central, state and deemed universities. Following libraries are studied:
The data was collected for analysing the collection, physical and computing infrastructure and services offered by the University libraries in Delhi. Analysis has been done on resource sharing, ICT, use of library management softwares and social media, and membership.
Resource sharing and networking is considered a sine qua non for augmenting and enhancing the services. All the libraries share resources with each other through DELNET. They get access to online journals and databases through INFLIBNET.
All the libraries in the study have earmarked some terminals for the users to access online resources and are Wi-Fi enabled. None of the libraries has implemented RFID. But they are exploring to implement the same to handle security and inventorying issues. The SLBSRSV Library has plans to install CCTV cameras to handle security issues.
The libraries have done away with physical reader tickets which were used for charging and discharging of books. They have introduced and implemented laminated bar-coded cards and the borrowing privileges of different categories of users are controlled and taken care of by the Integrated Library Management Software (ILMS). The total servers in the libraries are 14. Libraries of IGNOU and Delhi University have 5 and 4 servers respectively. The no. of PCs are 798. The maximum no. of PC (347) are available in library of JNU succeeded by JMI with 180 PCs. Delhi University has taken the 3rd position with 92 PCs. The total no. of printers are more than 100, where Jawaharlal Nehru University and DU have equal no. of printers, i.e., 20 each. The IGNOU library has 19 printers. Total scanners are 50. Maximum no. of scanners (32) are available with library of Jawaharlal Nehru University. Libraries of Jawaharlal Nehru University and Jamia Millia Islamia has 6 and 5 scanners each. The libraies have 23 barcode scanners. Libraries of Jawaharlal Nehru University, Delhi University and Jamia Hamdard each have 5 scanners. The SLBS Rashtriya Sanskrit Vidyapeeth Library has 13 PCs and 4 printers and 1 bar code scanner. Each library under study has acquired IT infrastructure and have been using it.
The libraries use different Integrated Library Management Software (ILMS) as shown in Table 1.
It has been observed that the ILMS do not offer foolproof solutions for the concerns of the libraries. For instance, Libsys7 claims to be Unicode compliant, but it does not support retrieval of requisite records entered in non English language. Virtua doesn’t generate reports required for different routine tasks of libraries.
Figure 1 shows that there are 27,253 students, 2458 faculty members and 2431 staff as registered users in the 9 university libraries which have been studied.
The various web-based services like social networking sites, blogging, micro blogging, RSS- feeds, book marking and wikis are referred to as social media. The university libraries in Delhi have started using the social media and tools, but they are still to harness the full potential of these tools. Libraries of JNU and DU are using social media tools, whereas other libraries are yet to start their use.
Access management and authentication service is the service of granting the authorised users, the right to access and use the licensed content, while unauthorised users are prevented from accessing the same. To ensure enhanced use of e-content libraries have facilitated remote access to the e-content through the access management and authentication service.
The libraries of IGNOU, and JNU use EZproxy access and authentication software to deliver secure online access to the licensed e-content. EZproxy facilitates a single sign on to e-content using the university issued credentials. The library of Ambedkar university uses virtual private network (VPN) for facilitating access to e-resources while the users are off campus. The VPN is a network technology which creates a secure network connection over internet so that the users can access licensed content which is protected. The remote access is facilitated via Open Athens at Jamia Milia Islamia library. The JNU central library also facilitates remote access via Open Athens.
To facilitate search across all the databases through a single search interface, libraries have adopted technologies like Federated searching and discovery services. The libraries of IGNOU, Jamia Milia Islamia and JNU use EBSCO Discovery service (EDS). The Delhi University Library System uses Fedgate. All the libraries also use Knimbus for facilitating search across the multiple resources provided by them.
University libraries have initiated efforts to digitise the theses and dissertations and deposit the softcopies to Shodhganga, a project of INFLIBNET. The JNU central library has already digitised more than 20,000 theses and dissertations which are available full-text on the university LAN. Out of 20,000, 5000+ are accessible through Shodhganga. As on 17 April 2015 Jamia Hamdard, University of Delhi and Jamia Millia Islamia have submitted 238, 519 and 5 theses and dissertations.
Press clippings service, a premium services being provided by Central Library, JNU, was started in 1974 to cater to the information needs of the researchers of the School of International Studies and School of Social Sciences of the University.
These clippings have been digitised and are now available on the university intranet at www.lib.jnu.ac.in. The digital database consists of approximately eight lac articles from different subjects. Besides this indigenous database, JNU library also subscribes to Press Reader online database of newspapers, earlier known as Press Display. At present, this database provides access to 3600+ newspaper titles in 60 languages from over one hundred countries. It can be accessed at www.lib.jnu.ac.in/Online_Databases.
The provision of comprehensive information services for visually challenged users is underpinned by several drivers; all of them are based on the principles of social inclusion and adherence to best practices. The legislation in the country advocates a mandatory framework in which information needs of the visually challenged students have to be taken care of. The overall goal of all libraries is to ensure that the reading, learning and researching experience is problem free and enjoyable for the visually challenged students.
In JNU library, there is a separate unit, known as Helen keller unit, which supports the learning and academic endeavours of the visually challenged students of the university. The unit has 30 workstations which are installed with JAWS (screen reading software), Kurzweil 1000 (OCR software) and computer headphones. Besides, there are 20 HP flatbed scanners, 2 Lexcam scanners, 02 braille refreshable display and 2 braille embossers for the students to use. The software installed support different European and Hindi languages. The aforementioned facilities are also deployed at various schools and centres like Special Centre for Law and Governance (CCSLG) and Sanskrit Centre for facilitating the students. The Library has also distributed 52 Angle Daisy Player (Digital Voice recorder) to visually-challenged students for recording their classroom lectures etc. The MPhil and PhD research scholars have also been given 40 Dell make Laptops; it also provides wheelchair and personal lockers to the differently-abled students. Central Library has subscribed to bookshare.org to facilitate the visually challenged students to provide the relevant collection in different formats such as daisy, mp3 and e-text. Bookshare https://www.bookshare.org/cms/about is the world’s largest accessible online library, collection of over 300,000 titles, for people with print disabilities. Bookshare is a Global Literacy initiative of Benetech, a non-profit technology company founded by Jim Fruchterman. It uses technology to address pressing social needs. Bookshare operates in the U.S. under a copyright exemption, the Chafee Amendment—which permits non-profit organizations to make books available to people with print disabilities without publishers’ permission. Bookshare receives publisher permission to provide books to members outside the US also. The Library is also a member of Daisy Forum of India (DFI). It is a forum of Not for Profit organizations in the country which are involved in production of books and reading materials in accessible formats for persons who cannot read normal print. The reading materials are provided as talking books, Braille Books, Large Print Books or E-text books. DAISY is an acronym for Digital Accessible Information System. It is an internationally recognised accessible multi-media publishing system, compatible with the World Wide Web.
(a) The DULS has developed a special Audio Book Resources and Braille Library, equipped with 3 audio book production studios, 2 Braille embossers, 16 workstations installed with special softwares like sigtuna, JAWS, DExbury, Leap office and so on so forth. Its collection has 1520 audio,1409 Braille and 1560 e-text, etc. The library has circulated 3,007 books on CDs to the students.
(b)Learning Centre for Differently Abled (LCDA) of Jamia Millia Islamia is equipped with different software like SAFA Reader, Vaachak, JAWS, MAGic, talking Typing Teacher, INFTY Reader and Chatty Infty software .The other assistive tools offered are RUBY, Read ITW and, SARA, digital voice recorders,TOPAZ desktop video magnifier, Plexrtalk PTR2, PlextalkPTN2, eye-C handheld video magnifier, Talking scientific calculator. The Centre has developed a collection of 1500 e-resources for the visually-challenged students
(c)The SLBS library building is physically challenged-user friendly. Its collection has Braille books and it is on its way to introduce more facilities for the visually challenged.
(d)The libraries of Hamdard, South Asian university, GGSIPU, Ambedkar University and IGNOU are still exploring the different assistive technologies to deploy to facilitate the visually-challenged students in their information seeking endeavours.
(e)The university libraries also regularly conduct orientation and training programmes for visually challenged students to train them to use these assistive technologies for accessing and using computers and online resources.
The university libraries have reported the following daunting challenges which they encounter:
(a) Paucity of Space
Libraries are providing more access-based services; still the demand for more space perennially exists. Reason being that the number of gate counts is ever increasing; for some students in metros like Delhi, it is the only resort of a quiet place to study, concentrate, assimilate and generate new ideas and work. Libraries may use compactors for storing old issues or bound journals. They may undertake digitisation of rare and old books in keeping with the copyright laws.
(b) Lack of Skilled Manpower
It is very evident that there has been a perennial shortage of manpower for the last so many years. The shortage of human resources in libraries affects adversely the smooth functioning of various sections and derails the disposal of urgent activities and basic duties. In case the users are not attended to or their needs are not taken care of for want of human resources, libraries risk losing their credibility and reputation earned over the years.
In some libraries like IGNOU, there are no promotional avenues for the professionals. This also directly impacts the quality of services provided to the users, who are distance learners. The staff may not feel motivated to contribute to their full potential as there are no avenues to grow and rise to the higher levels. This is very pathetic and acts as a dampener for the staff. For the vacancies which have existed for long, no recruitments have been done. Generally the decision makers at the university level think, libraries can be run even without recruiting and filling the vacant positions.
The IGNOU, being the largest Open University in the country, operates through a three-tier system comprising university headquarters at Maiden Garhi, New Delhi; 67 regional centers, 5 sub-regional centers and 2667 study centers located across over the country. Likewise, the library system of the university has three tiers—Central libraries at the headquarters followed by libraries of regional and study centers. The main library at the headquarters procures books as per the recommendations of the faculty members which are then dispatched to the regional centers. It has been observed that the computing infrastructure of the three tier system leaves much to be desired. The libraries at the different tiers are not well-staffed. The shortage of staff hampers the provision of the basic services, let alone introduction and implementation of innovative services for the distance learners. The vacant positions in the libraries should be filled as early as early as possible.
The message should be loud and clear that if the universities want to excel they should have well-staffed libraries. There should be opportunities for the staff to grow, provision should be there for adhoc-promotions and charge allowances so that the staff moves up and feel motivated to deliver the goods.
(c) Problem of Dwindling Budget
Libraries have reported that they do not get adequate budget to cater to the increasing demands and expectations of the users. It is well known fact that there is an incremental increase of 5-15 % in the subscription charges of journals and online databases every year. Libraries have a tough time in maintaining the subscriptions and initiating the subscriptions to the new journals and databases as per the needs and recommendations of the users.
(d) Non Availability of E-content in Vernacular Languages
The libraries of JNU, Delhi University, South Asian University and IGNOU have already introduced and procured e-books. Other libraries are in the process of exploring e- books for their users. There are many issues related to the procurement of e- books. The publishers offer various business models which are not very library friendly. They impose very many Digital Rights Management (DRM) restrictions on their use, like limited downloading, printing and saving is permitted. The average cost of e-books is still higher than their print counterparts. It has also been observed that the required textbooks are not available as e-books. Besides, the content in Indian vernacular languages is yet to be made available in digital form. The publishers of online content provide content in English only. Thus, the needs of the researchers working in Indian languages are relegated and not taken care of. The SLBSRSV focuses on imparting education and training in Sanskrit and allied disciplines. Its library does not have online books, because online books are not available in Sanskrit and other Indian languages.
(a) Bodies like MHRD, UGC should take stock of the situation and understand that the demands, requirements and expectations of users are going up. The library budget should also be enhanced to cater to the increasing demands and expectations of the users. The government intends to enhance the GER to 30 % by 202011 ; it means libraries will experience more gate counts. Accordingly, the library buildings should be extended to accommodate more students and develop some of the areas as marker spaces for students.
(b) More funds should be allocated for acquisition of resources so that the problem of too many students vying for few books and journals is taken care of. E-resources can help in this regard as same resources can be used simultaneously. The government should consider negotiating a national license with the publishers of e-content, which would facilitate equitable access to e- resources to all the researchers across the country.
(c) Libraries should have well formulated, weeding out policies so that the lesser used or obsolete resources can be culled out or remotely stored. These activities may contain the issue of paucity of space to a great extent.
(d) Libraries should take concerted efforts in highlighting the research output by creating Institutional repositories and populating them with reprints, contributions, publications and reports of the faculty members and their universities. They should take initiatives to store and curate and make accessible the raw and summarized research data of the studies and projects conducted by their researchers and faculty members. So in order to ensure their safe existence and importance, they need to use their expertise in collecting, organising, curating, research data for the present and future generation of research.
(e) Libraries have to adapt themselves to the changing environment heralded by the new technologies and tools. They have long been considered as underutilised ware houses of books, journals and other reading materials; administrators and faculty members consider library staff as keepers and custodians of books and journals rather as active partners in teaching and research. Libraries have to embrace change to dismantle the aforementioned notions harbored by various stakeholders to maintain their viability and sustainability as the most happening, dynamic zones of the universities.
(f) The libraries’ websites should be developed in compliance with W3C Web content accessibility. The Government of India also advocates that the websites should be “universally accessible”3.They should provide Braille magazines like White print for their visually challenged students. They should put data related to collections, services, budget and other details on the website. This is also in line with suo-motu disclosure under section 4 of RTI Act, 2005. Since the country has the second largest Internet user base with 30 crore users and 97 crore mobile phone users, concerted efforts should be made to ensure that the collections and services offered by the libraries are accessible to the users on their mobile devices.
The present study has given a snapshot of the status of 9 university libraries in terms of collection, physical and computing infrastructure and myriad services which they offer to their users. The university libraries in Delhi need to be strengthened both as virtual and physical entities. The virtual entities will widen access to the users on 24X 7 while the physical entities will lead to the overall development where students interact, debate contribute and in the process may trigger a new idea which may further extend the boundaries of knowledge. The potential of modern technological developments should be fully harnessed to enhance and promote the services for the users.
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Mr Mahesh Chand is working as Assistant Librarian, Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi. He has professional experience of over two decades and published over a dozen papers in different national and international conferences. Presently he is perusing PhD in Library and Information Science from University of Delhi.
Ms Manorama Tripathi is working as Deputy Librarian at Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi.