- G.K. Manjunath
Library automation which started in late 70s in few special libraries has now reached most of the university libraries. It is yet to take off in college libraries in India owing to various problems. This paper tries to identify the barriers, analyze the convenient steps in automating the library and the technology available.
Why library automation:
Even though this question seems to be very fundamental it is essential to emphasize this aspect as the library automation is yet to take off in majority of the Indian libraries. Secondly, while justifying need for library automation more than cost-effectiveness the benefits derived by the library users become the major consideration. Since library does not happen to be an economic entity such benefits need to be looked at in a different perspective. To appreciate the advantages it becomes necessary to highlight the different levels of library automation. For convenience it can be visualized at four levels:
The second level automation will be to use a software which can handle all the house keeping operations of the library such as acquisition, circulation and serial control thus creating a network within the library or becoming part of the existing network of the institution. Networking of computers within an organization helps the users to browse the cataloguing system from any of the workstation/ terminal.
A very handy technology available for library is the CD-ROM products which can be considered at the third level. The development of CD-ROM collection not only conserves space but also provides multi-user access in network environment. There are many self-tutorial CD-ROMS available with multi-media effect. Libraries facing high incidence of mutilation of materials will benefit from such electronic products. Also people doing empirical research can download data and directly take it to other software platform for analysis and making graphical presentation.
Other technology which libraries can make use of is the e-mail system. This not only reduces the recurring expenditure but also be effective and fast. Sending reminders for non-receipt of journals by e-mail has proved to be very cost-effective. In addition to this, sharing of resources among libraries become easy. Few public domain e-mail software are available and there will be no additional expenditure incurred.
Another technology which has revolutionized the information world is the development of internet. Subscribers of internet, in addition to getting access to various public domain databases and services, will also get free e-mail and fax facility. Some publishers have started giving content pages of journals and libraries having subscription to such journals can also have full text of the articles. Many academic and research institutes have given free access to their working papers.
Barriers of library automation:
Following could be the few possible barriers of library automation:
i . Fear of adverse impact on employment
ii . Apprehension that the technology could be too expensive
iii . The library staff have to undergo extensive training.
iv. Lack of support from the management, may be owing to budget constraints
v. Fifth reason could be retrospective conversion of data.
Let us examine each of the points. If we analyze the various jobs such as book acquisition, technical processing, circulation and reference service one can conclude that human interference is necessary at each and every step. The only area where substantial manpower can be saved is the cataloguing. The data entered at the time of ordering can be used for cataloging with some updation would eliminate multiple card preparation and subsequent filing. The manpower thus saved can be utilized in retrospective conversion and later on for analytical cataloguing or introducing new services. Therefore, there will be no adverse impact on employment.
There is an apprehension that the technology, both hardware and software would be expensive and unaffordable. The cost of hardware and software depends on the level of automation. From the user point of view cataloguing system is most important and also forms the base for other library activities. Keeping these two points in view UNESCO developed a PC based software titled 'CDS/ISIS' and is available at a very nominal price to all the libraries in developing countries. For details librarians may contact ATIRA/NISSAT.
This software which works on a simple IBM compatible PC/XT is also available on UNIX and NOVELL platform. Recently the WINDOWS version has also been released. This software can export data in ISO 2709 format and therefore at later stage if one decides to go in for some other software, data transfer poses no problem. INFLIBNET has developed a public domain library software titled 'ILMS' which is available on DOS AND UNIX platform. With the recent government policy the PCs and other accessories have become affordable. The cost of different hardware has been listed in the annexure I.
The in-house training for handling the software is usually provided by the developers and one can choose the software which can suit their budget. However, training for CDS/ISIS is available at INSDOC, INFLIBNET and DRTC. For further information on training programmes one can contact NISSAT. The training of library staff also depends on the level of automation. If one decides to go only for cataloguing a minimum training of one or two weeks duration will enable the librarians to develop a database and maintain it. With this basic training one can easily transfer the same data on a server/main machine in a network environment. The job becomes easy as most of the institutions have systems department with computer professionals maintaining the network.
Fourthly lack of support from the management, may be owing to budget constraints, will be one of the barriers. Here the role of librarians becomes crucial in convincing the management that the users of libraries will also be the major beneficiaries of automation. Also, the skill and initiative play a major role in convincing the management.
The fifth reason could be retrospective conversion of data. As mentioned earlier the manpower saved could be utilized for retrospective conversion and later on for analytical cataloguing. However, most of the libraries have taken time bound project for this purpose.
Selection of library software:
As mentioned earlier, if a library wants to make a beginning; CDS/ISIS is best suited as it involves minimum investment on both hardware and software. Once a database with bibliographic details is developed, the same data can be used for circulation activities. Here the selection of software becomes crucial because CDS/ISIS can efficiently handle only the cataloguing system. Following criteria might help the librarians to select the right software for other housekeeping operations:
I thankfully acknowledge the assistance and suggestions given by the computer and library staff of IGIDR in preparing this paper.
|1. HARDWARE FOR STAND ALONE
Pentium with 128mb RAM
20GB HD ; 1.44mb FDD
833 mhz; CD Drive
Color Monitor, Multimedia
132 Column line printer
Cartridge backup of 1GB
SYSTEM/SHAREWARE FOR NETWORKING
Same as item no. 1
1.4 ghz; 256mb RAM; (IBM)
40 GB HD; CD-ROM Drive
Hub (8 PORTS)
UNIX ,NOVELL or NT (for 128 users)
UPS (30 Minutes)
Cat 5 (Rate per mt)
Fiber Optic (Rate per mt)
*Subscription to VSNL
E-mail + Internet (500 hours)
LANBIT FISC CDm Server OR
AMC (approx 8% TO 10% OF THE HARDWARE COST)
Note. The prices indicated were taken at the time of publication of this paper.
Expansion of abbreviations and addresses:
ATIRA -AHMEDABAD TEXTILE INDUSTRIAL
POST Ambawadi Vistaar
Ahmedabad - 380 015
CDS/ISIS -COMPUTERISED DOCOUMENTATION SERVICES/INTEGRATED
SET OF INFORMATION SYSTEM
INFLIBNET -INFORMATION AND LIBRARY NETWORK CENTRE
NEAR GUJRAT UNIVERSITY GUEST HOUSE
POST BOX NO. 4116
Phone : 079-6308528;6305971
Fax : 079-6300990
E-mail : firstname.lastname@example.org
ILMS -INTEGRATED LIBRARY MANAGEMENT SOFTWARE