Libraries were designed to reach the “information poor” and literally contribute to the literacy drive, boost knowledge dissemination in schools and colleges and enrich the information base in its public avatars. Yet, this critical window to the world has been left in the lurch, the recommendations of various commissions not anywhere close to the implementation level.
Libraries need to expand their role to include community information. In the rural sector, each village library would play a critical role. The responsibility for this must lie with the local ruling bodies. These recommendations have their obvious merits. But the tricky part is its implementation. Most of the recommendations made by commissions and committees remained unimplemented. The condition of libraries vis-à-vis librarians remained pathetic.
There is a long list of unaddressed and unresolved issues concerning the Library and Information Sciences sector. College librarians are still struggling for their status all over the country. Libraries are considered as “money-eating monsters”
Despite all efforts, public libraries are in dismal position. Libraries are still considered the least important component of an institution. It is not surprising then that all those concerned have laid great hopes on the NKC recommendations.
The National Knowledge Commission has made another attempt to revive the fortunes of libraries. Will it work? The NKC has clearly laid out the path to reform. It has suggested that a network of public libraries be built in a phased manner within a period of five years. To boost Research and Development, the commission has mooted a separate well-equipped institution for advanced training and research in library and information sciences and services, called the Indian Institute of library and information sciences.
To optimize resources, the NKC is clear that the strengths of different types of libraries should be synergized. The manpower requirement has to be assessed on the basis of job description, qualifications, designations, pay scale, career advancement and service conditions.
The commission also recognizes the need to capture knowledge about the local community and finds libraries the perfect vehicle to do that.
Technology as a tool:
Promotion of Information Communication technology (ICT) applications in all libraries is a must. The commission has proposed that the catalogues of libraries be put on local, state and national websites with necessary linkages.
This will enable networking of different types of libraries and a centralized collaborative virtual enquiry handling system using the latest ICT. Philanthropic organizations, industrial houses and other private agencies should be encouraged through fiscal incentives to support existing libraries or set up new libraries.