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A scholarly profession with promise

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Tech savvy: Librarians in the IT era have to be technically competent and proficient in the latest indexing practices.
Tech savvy: Librarians in the IT era have to be technically competent and proficient in the latest indexing practices.

In the era of the global economy, the future of a country is tied to knowledge-leveraged growth. The prime movers to achieve such growth are education, research, and communication. A formidable infrastructure in education, reinforced by well-knit communication and dissemination systems is a sine qua non for knowledge-based growth.

Life and living all around is today virtually under the grip of information and communication technologies. The enormous, unlimited array of information has to be managed and systematically transformed into a useful input for instant use. As such, automation of libraries is the demand of the hour worldwide to provide online access to books, journals and allied material. The work-culture in libraries is changing fast. Cyber libraries are opening, packed with digital documents, CD-Roms and talking books. Several libraries are being connected for resource sharing using the Internet. Information like research findings, data, databases, online yellow pages, electronic mail services, investment guides, travel guidelines with related maps, educational and career guidance and the like can easily be retrieved.

As publishing is now moving to digital-media-formats, a library likewise needs to advance its devices and networking to make use of the digital material. Here, the collection of the library is stored and maintained in computer-accessible-form and accessed digitally through computer networking, regardless of its location. The process makes well-ordered, instant information-retrieval possible, globally.

People are getting net-savvy and the demand for online digital information service is increasing manifold. Among Indian libraries, the digital movement is lagging far behind, primarily due to financial limitations.

The old systems of acquisition, storage, organisation and dissemination are becoming obsolete. With the onslaught of Information Technology and the Internet, the very anatomy and application of resource material have been revolutionised. The present-day library is a liaison in communication progression and so is more ‘service-adept’ and less ‘resource-oriented’.

Likewise, staff members have to be technically accomplished and skilfully proficient. Today, the librarian (or, Information Professional) functions as a “navigator”, an updater of information to intellectual reserves, with the help of search engines, e-resources, digitalisation and tools like Gopher, FTP, Telnet, Unix, MS-Office, Windows, Linux and so on.

Jobs in a library also consist of budgeting, accounting, acquisition of collection, organisation and management of the institution, besides rendering service to readers. IT, digitalisation, online global information, automation have added new dimensions. In the areas of self-education, distant learning and online schooling, the library is indispensable.

The library profession has truly perceived the diversified dynamics of its job paradigms and so the training courses have been designed and drawn up accordingly, to meet emerging requirements and challenges. Currently, the following courses in LI. Sc are conducted by universities.

• 10+2+3+1 Bachelor of Library and B.LI.Sc. Information Science (admission requirement: degree in any discipline)

• 10+2+3+1+1 Master of Library and M.LI.Sc. Information Science (truncated course, one-year M.LI.Sc.) (admission requirement - B.L.I.Sc.)

• 10+2+3+2 Master of Library and M.L.I.Sc. Information Science (integrated course) (admission requirement: degree in any discipline)

• 10+2+3+2 Master of Library and M.L.I.Sc Information Science (bachelor’s degree in any discipline with Library and Information Science as one of the optional subjects)

Universities are also conducting research and Ph.D programmes in Library and Information Science. Besides, certificate courses in Library Science of three to six-month duration are conducted at some places by Library Associations, for higher secondary students to work as semi-professional or librarian in a small library. Knowledge of foreign languages is an advantage in this profession.

A knowledgeable librarian works as a guide, making the reader aware of the relevant literature, like any other teacher. In academic libraries, library professional’s grades and status have therefore, been prescribed by the UGC on a par with those of teachers of the universities and colleges. University Librarian, Deputy Librarian and Assistant Librarian are placed in the pay-scales of University Professor, Associate Professor and Assistant Professor respectively, provided they possess qualification on a par with the teachers, as prescribed by the UGC.

In the institutions of science and technology and scientific research, library professionals are treated on a par with those of the corresponding scientists. In public libraries, however, librarians’ grades are not uniform and satisfactory.

Grades here differ from State to State and much needs to be done to improve the conditions of the staff.

With increased emphasis on spread of literacy and education, and a good number of new universities, IITs, engineering colleges, business and management schools and industrial establishments coming up, the job-market for library professionals looks green.

Regarded as a noble profession, it is well-suited to women, to work in a quite environment, assisting information-seekers, especially the children.

The librarian’s job is scholarly; it’s a career with promise of growth, meant for those interested in books and reading and keeping their knowledge abreast with contemporary literature and research.

SHRI NATH SAHAI

Retired University
Professor-Librarian


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