Digital Diaries

With modernisation hitting every sphere of life, libraries at popular institutes are no exception. Hi-tech campus libraries have become a part of the deal, finds Vinita Bajari.

Digital Diaries

Remember the times when you needed to issue a book from the library, you have to make a round of the library request for the shelf number, pick it out and then take it home? And, if, by any chance it was already taken by another student, you had to endure a long wait until the book is returned and you can get it. Worse still, if you had to use some reference material, it was not allowed outside the library, so you had to sit in there and make notes for excruciating long hours. At the most, you could photocopy, if there was a facility available within the premises.

Well, students today do not have to worry about any such matters, which have now become ‘trivial’ in the light of digital libraries. Modern day libraries allow you to search over the internet, take a call number and issue the books in a short period of the time. Moreover, most reference material is available in digital format, so students can read it and even download it if necessary.

Recently, Lovely Professional University (LPU) launched one of the largest high-tech campus linbraries in the country. The nine-storey central library, with real equidistant approach for the 25000 students covers about 1.5 lakh square feet.

At the Indian School of Business (ISB) in Hyderabad, the library, known as the Learning Resource Centre (LRC), is the heart of the Academic Centre. It is designed to meet the information needs of the ISB community and is also the source for news on the latest developments in business and management.

Needless to say, all the libraries house a rich collection of varied material with textbooks, reference books, journals, magazines, audio material, videos, CDs, research reports, online databases and data analysis software in different areas and branches.

In most cases, like in LPU, the libraries are RFID enabled, where all the books have RFID Tags, laced with multiple exits and entries, guarded by RF Gates. In fact, at LPU, based on international methods, the library has system for self check-in and check-out, where students can return/ checkout the books, without any intervention of the staff.

In addition, the software allows students to check books, anywhere from the world; and, a request can also be made to hold the book for issuance.

At ISB, the largest user group for LRC is the students. Providing services that will enhance their learning and productivity is at the core of LRC’s working. It offers the services like circulation, information, article request and photocopying to its student members.

There are also a number of initiatives taken in this regard to help students get ahead. Vidyanidhi: Digital Library and E-Scholarship Portal is planning to develop repository for Indian doctoral thesis. At present it provides access to metadata of Indian thesis and universities. Few full text thesis are presently available in its database. It started as a project in 2000 with support from NISSAT, Government of India. Now with the support from Ford Foundation and Microsoft India it is evolving as a national initiative. It is looking for Universities and researchers to participate in this programme. The project is based at Department of Library and Information Science, Mysore University, Mysore, Karnataka.

With all the libraries, space permitting, comes a resource centre with as many computer terminals as can be provided. Without it, in the information age, a library would be incomplete.

Damodhar P, in his paper Developing Digital University Libraries in India, suggests, “University libraries have vast store of information in various forms. These sources of information can be accessed through Internet from any corner of the world. But Indian University libraries are lagging behind in this direction.” He adds that Indian universities cannot afford to remain isolated from the world of information. He expressed the need to catch up with modern trends through digitization of libraries and made an attempt to propose digital libraries in Indian universities.

He termed in three phases: ie acquiring materials in digital form; digitization of thesis, dissertations, manuscripts and rare books; and digitization of books and Journals.

Today, if he would witness some of the fast-occurring changes in the country in this respect, he would be glad, to say the least.

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