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Library automation facilitation: a case stuy of NIT Libraries in India: automation makes the library systems, resources, and services more attractive and interactive, helping libraries to meet their user's expectations.

India is a huge country with a population of more than 1 billion. In India, by tradition, education and learning are highly valued. In fact, India has one of the largest higher education systems in the world, with regard to the number of institutions. Both authors of this article have spent their professional lives in support of India's higher education system, with author Rao serving as assistant librarian for the National Institute of Technology in Rourkela, India, and author Choudhury serving as guest faculty at Utkal University, Bhubaneswar, India, after retiring from his professorship at Sambalpur University.

Education is a necessity. It is the most effective instrument with which to imbue people with the knowledge, skills, and capability to develop a developing nation.

Libraries are one invaluable way to provide this education since each library is a hub of knowledge. This is one reason that automation is important for libraries--it is the way to effectively modernize their functions and services, which in turn makes them more efficient at responding to the needs of their users. Library automation is viewed as the total composite of technologies needed to bring to the library user the necessary access and services to answer real-world information needs.

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History of India's National Institutes of Technology

The seeds for some of India's higher education institutions were planted in the latter half of the 1950s. During that time, in India, a number of industrial projects were being contemplated. To ensure enough supply of trained personnel to meet the demand these projects would create, the decision was made to build Regional Engineering Colleges (RECs), one per each major state, that could churn out engineering graduates. Thus, starting in 1959, 17 RECs were eventually established across the country to encourage regional development of technical manpower. These colleges were set up as a joint and cooperative enterprise between the central government and each state government concerned.

Subsequently, these colleges were granted university status. In 2002, the Union Ministry of Human Resource Development, Government of India, decided to upgrade, in phases, all 17 RECs as National Institutes of Technology (NITs). Later, three government engineering colleges (Patna, Raipur, and Agartala) were added to the NIT family. All 20 institutes (see Figure 1) offer benchmarks for technical education, especially in the areas of engineering, science, and technology. All institutions have their own autonomy to draft curriculum and functioning policies, and they offer bachelor's, master's, and doctorate courses and degrees in various fields. Greater infrastructure facilities have been given to these institutions for development in teaching, learning, research, and dissemination of information across the country.

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The Case Study--Construction

We conducted this study a few years ago in order to identify the extent of computerization among NIT libraries across India. Objectives--The main objectives were as follows:

* To examine the level of computerization among NIT libraries in India

* To study integrated library software (ILS) and its management

* To find out the automation of library in-house functionalities

* To evaluate zone performance with respect to computerization

Methodology--Aquestionnaire was used to collect data. The sample size was 20, due to the number of NITs in India. The questionnaire was presented to administrators of the libraries of the various NITs across the country. A reminder was sent to those librarians who failed to respond in a timely fashion. Finally, all responses were received.

Scope and Limitations--The study was confined to India's 20 NIT libraries, concerning only the library automation facilitation. In this study, data received from the respondents were authenticated and assumed to be factual. (Evaluating user interviews/opinions and their degree of satisfaction through user surveys would have added even more value to the present study.)

The Case Study: Findings--Based on the objectives of the study, the findings are given here. As you will see, the provision of computerization among NIT libraries was also ranked with regard to zone. These zones are North, East, Northeast, South, West, and Central.

Level of Library Automation--This refers to the degree of computerization at the NIT libraries, whether they are fully or partially automated or in the process of automation. Table 1 indicates 40% of libraries reported that they are fully automated. Five libraries (25%) are partially automated, and seven libraries (35%) are in the process of automation.

Integrated Library Software (ILS) Package--Professional library software is being used for the purpose of transacting library functions effectively and accurately. Table 2 shows almost all the libraries (95%) indicated that they are using an ILS package. The majority of the libraries are using LibSys, which is a professional integrated library software package from LibSys Corp. in India.

Installation of ILS on a server (a computer as a back-end server that is used for storing, maintaining, and protecting library data), irrespective of locations and whether it is local or central, adds to the performance of the library. In this study, Table 3 indicates that almost all the libraries have servers, with 60% of libraries reporting that they have placed ILS on the local server (the library's), while seven libraries (35%) have placed ILS on the central server (the institute's). One library has yet to initiate automating a computerbased library system at its end.

Management of ILS on Server--The professional expertise and the technical competency of the professional librarians with respect to the handling and management of server software are clear, according to the next table. Table 4 shows that 14 respondents (70%) reported that the ILS on the server is being managed by the library professionals, whereas only 5 libraries (25%) indicate that it is being managed by the computer professionals.

Automation of Library Operations--The automation of library housekeeping functions, such as acquisition, cataloging, circulation, serial control, stock verification, and article article indexing using ILS, is an important parameter to evaluate library performance. Each module has its unique responsibility for transacting in-house library material.

Table 5 shows that about 50% of the libraries have the automated acquisition module system for selecting, ordering, receiving bill processing, and the accessioning of library materials. Eighty-five percent of the libraries have automated their catalog system (both Online Public Access Catalog [OPAC] and web-based OPAC) for finding, locating, searching, and retrieving bibliographical information. Automation of the circulation system is an important task for academic libraries to transact library routines (issue, return, renewal, reservation, overdue notices, and fines of books and other documents, etc.), and 50% of respondents indicate that they have the automated circulation system. Only 45% of libraries have an automated serial control module, though it is equally as important a component for obtaining and processing journals. Areas such as stock verification and article indexing modules are progressing.

Library Automation by Geographic Zone--Measuring performance is one piece of evidence that needs a continuous process of evaluation to give any kind of activity prediction. With reference to library automation facilitation, performance by geographic zones is presented in Table 6. As you can see, the South zone (91%) libraries have shown substantial development, whereas the West zone, with 71%, is a distant second. The North, East, and Northeast zones are more or less similar in nature in implementing automation practices in their libraries, while the Central zone is at 25% level of development.

Figure 2 provides a summary of the information presented in Table 6:

Conclusion

Automation makes the library system, resources, and services more attractive and interactive, helping libraries to meet their users' expectations. In order to see the true picture of the provision of automation facilities among NIT libraries, this study has been conducted. There certainly was hopeful news provided by the study--almost all the NIT libraries have acquired ILS, and the majority of the libraries have automated their cataloging systems. However, the study makes it clear that automation facilitation among NIT libraries is still in the developmental stages due to various technical, professional, and administrative reasons. Despite this, the NIT libraries will continue to manage their library systems, functions, and services both manually and electronically with limited resource facilities, as they always have.

Y. Srinivasa Rao (ysrao@nitrkl.ac.in) works as assistant librarian at the Biju Patnaik Central Library, NIT--Rourkela, Orissa, India. He received his postgraduate degree in library and information science (LISc) from Andhra University, Visakhapatnam, India, his postgraduation diploma in computer applications from Pondicherry University, Pondicherry, India, and is working on his Ph.D. in LISc from Sambalpur

University, Sambalpur, India. He was awarded the Gold Medal and the Merit Scholarship in the area of library and information science in 1996 from Andhra University.

B.K. Choudhury, Ph.D. (bkc_123@rediffmail.com), is presently a guest faculty member at the department of library and information science (LISc) at Utkal University, Bhubaneswar, India. Before his retirement, he was a professor in the department of LISc at Sambalpur University, Sambalpur. He received his M.L.S. from Karnataka University, Dharwad, India, and his Ph.D. from Utkal University, Bhubaneswar.
Table 1: Level of library automation

Level of Automation   Frequency (N=20)   Percentage

Fully                 8                  40%
Partially             5                  25%
In the Process        7                  35%

Table 2: Integrated Library Software

Integrated         Frequency (N=20)   Percentage
Library Software

ILS Used           19                 95%
ILS Not Used        1                  5%

Table 3: ILS installation on server

ILS Installation        Frequency (N=20)   Percentage
on Server

Local (Library's)       12                 60%
Central (Institute's)    7                 35%
None                     1                  5%

Table 4: ILS management

ILS Management           Frequency (N=20)   Percentage

Library Professionals    14                 70%
Computer Professionals    5                 25%
None                      1                  5%

Table 5: Automation of library software modules

Modules Automated               Frequency   Percentage
                                (N=20)

Acquisition: Automated          10          50%

Not Automated                   10          50%

Cataloging: Automated           17          85%

Not Automated                    3          15%

Circulation: Automated          10          50%

Not Automated                   10          50%

Serial Control: Automated        9          45%

Not Automated                   11          55%

Stock Verification: Automated    2          10%

Not Automated                   18          90%

Article Indexing: Automated      2          10%

Not Automated                   18          90%

Table 6: Library automation among the NIT libraries by zone

School   Zone      Name of the Library   School   Total     Percentage
No.                                      Score    Score
                                                  in Zone

1        North     Motilal Nehru NIT-    12       42        60%
                   Allahabad

2                  NIT-Hamirpur           5

3                  NIT-Jalandhar          7

4                  NIT-Kurukshetra       10

5                  NIT-Srinagar           8

6        East      NIT-Durgapur          10       31        55%

7                  NIT-Jamshedpur         6

8                  NIT-Patna              4

9                  NIT-Rourkela          11

10       North-    NIT-Agartala           4       13        46%
         east
11                 NIT-Silchar            9

12       South     NIT-Calicut           14       51        91%

13                 NIT-Surathkal         14

14                 NIT-Tiruchirapalli    11

15                 NIT-Warangal          12

16       West      Malaviya NIT-Jaipur    7       30        71%

17                 Visvesvaraya          11
                   NIT-Nagpur
18                 Sardar Vallabhbhai    12
                   NIT-Surat

19       Central   Maulana Azad           6        7        25%
                   NIT-Bhopal
20                 NIT-Raipur             1

Figure 2: Library automation by zone

Zones        Percentage

North                60
East                 55
North-east           46
South                91
West                 71
Central              25
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Article Details
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Author:Rao, Y. Srinivasa; Choudhury, B.K.
Publication:Computers in Libraries
Geographic Code:9INDI
Date:Nov 1, 2009
Words:1763
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