Staff Reporter

Students and research scholars should be able to access library and information resources round-the-clock, overcoming time and space limitations Students and research scholars should be able to access library and information resources round-the-clock, overcoming time and space limitations

Coimbatore: Libraries in academic institutions should share knowledge, expertise and facilities with others in the region, V. S. Prasad, Director, National Assessment and Accreditation Council (NAAC), Bangalore has said here.

He was inaugurating `SALIS 2006', a conference on `Initiatives in libraries and information centres in the digital era', organised by the Central Library, Karunya Institute of Technology and Sciences (KITS) Deemed University.

Prof. Prasad said that on a visit to the Hong Kong Open University, he had found the library at the institution accessible round-the-clock to students, because it was technology-based. Most of the users accessed resources from 10 p.m. to 6 a.m.

He said that students and research scholars in India should be able to obtain library and information resources in a similar manner, overcoming time and space limitations. Library resources, knowledge, experience and facilities should not be limited to elite institutions alone, but should be shared with others through networks, without creating a "digital divide". At various points in time, the written word, the printing press and the Internet had changed the world. Over the years, the role of the librarian had changed. However, the librarian was still important in helping users obtain information, just as the teacher was vital for students to learn in an educational institution.

Technology fetish

Librarians should avoid the two extremes of "technology fetish" and "technology phobia". Those who held the first view considered technology the solution to everything and thought that there would be no use for a librarian, while those who held the second view were apprehensive about advances in the digital era, thinking that only "rich institutions with good resources" would benefit from technology. Harish Chandra, Librarian, Indian Institute of Technology - Madras, Chennai and Conference Director, said that information needs were changing. Industries needed information support from libraries at a time when the information explosion had produced large quantities of material.

Gateway to knowledge

"A library should not be just a storehouse of books. It should be the gateway to knowledge resources," he said. For students at IIT-M, the focus was now on nano technology and fuel cells. Besides having knowledge of various subjects, librarians ought to be able to reach out to readers, carry out innovations and provide a range of resources to users. P. K. Philip, Vice Chancellor, presided over the function and Michael N. Kumar, Registrar, delivered a special address.

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