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Introducing the world to books

Storehouse of information

Information is power. The primary objective of libraries is to organize and provide access to information. UNESCO believes that libraries of all kinds are probably the best agencies to maintain a free flow of ideas and information and create a climate of mutual understanding and friendliness.

But with the advances in technology, that have turned the predictions of a "paperless society" into a reality, the role of libraries has been redefined. The traditional concept of a library is being redefined from a place to access paper records or books to one that also houses the most advanced media, including CD-ROM, the Internet, virtual libraries, and remote access to a wide range of resources.

Librarian: Our guide to books

M ention of library science brings to one's mind the image of a librarian issuing or reissuing books. But a librarian's work is not limited to this. It is a full-time job where one is expected not only to manage books but also deliver information relating to texts, journals, periodicals etc.

Consequently, librarians, or information professionals, increasingly are combining traditional duties with tasks involving quickly changing technology. Librarians assist people in finding information and using it effectively for personal and professional purposes. Librarians must have knowledge of a wide variety of scholarly and public information sources and must follow trends related to publishing, computers, and the media in order to oversee the selection and organization of library materials.

Librarians manage staff and develop and direct information programs and systems for the public, to ensure that information is organized in a manner that meets users’ needs. It is not enough for libraries to be spending huge sums on procuring books. The reading public must be made aware of new additions to their stock. A library thus needs to have a good marketing strategy too.

Do you possess the qualities to be a good librarian?

A librarian with diverse talents and training, and who is flexible, will be able to meet the challenges of future library scene. An ideal librarian is one who is competitive and assertive, who is cooperative and willing to compromise, one who is intellectually committed, who is equipped with technical and managerial competencies, who is enthusiastic to the needs of new technology at the same time not being emotionally attached to any one system.

Apart from the basic technical knowledge, a librarian must be customer-friendly, a good communicator and should keep abreast of emerging fields of knowledge. To be a good librarian, one should possess good computer literacy as most of the libraries are connected through the Local Area Network (LAN).

Skill sets

The electronic environment of the 21st century will demand a range of skills from by library and information science professionals, including:

  • Technical skills
  • IT skills
  • Managerial skills

Users may turn for help and advice on search techniques, database quality, database development, and the range of databases that are available. Librarians will need organized training programs, which can be in the form of workshops, conferences, seminars, symposia, etc.

Career scope

Every academic institution, training center or university needs to have a good library for the students. This makes the scope for professionals trained in library science vast, especially when a number of private colleges and universities have come up in the India. Most learning centers and training institutes need a good librarian and supporting staff to maintain their books and records. Today, library science has achieved the status of a separate discipline.

A career in Library Science broadly falls into two areas. One option is to become a librarian in state-run or private libraries and the other is to take up teaching of the subject in various colleges and universities. The career of a librarian begins at the level of library attendant but may differ from organisation to organisation.

Nowadays, even big corporate houses and multinational companies are hiring these professionals. For example, Ranbaxy, State Bank of India and Cipla are some of the companies who have hired a number of information analysts.

Broadly speaking, a library science student can work in any of the three areas in a library - reference section, circulation or book acquisition. A student of Library and Information Science can specialize in any of these areas. Marketing professionals too are needed by libraries to help in promoting the book collection.

Experienced librarians can advance to administrative positions, such as department head, library director, or chief information officer.

Nature of the Work

Most librarian positions incorporate three aspects of library work:

  • User services
  • Technical services
  • Administrative services

Librarians are classified according to the type of library in which they work: A public library; school library media center; college, university, or other academic library; or special library.

Work opportunities

Trained personnel in this field can find employment opportunities in areas like:

  • Public/Govt libraries
  • Universities and other academic institutions
  • News agencies
  • Private organisations
  • Foreign embassies
  • Photo/film libraries
  • Information centres/ documentation centres
  • Museums and galleries, which have reading rooms and research facilities
  • Some library technicians are self-employed as researchers, consultants, cataloguers etc.

Educational route

One has to be a graduate with minimum 50 per cent marks to get admission to a one-year course in Bachelor of Library and Information Science (B.LISc). Similarly 50% is the minimum marks for admission to the master’s programme. Thereafter, students can opt for M.Phil and Ph.D. Special librarians may need an additional graduate or professional degree. There are also diploma and certificate courses alongwith distance education programmes.

Librarians can further specialize in a subject like political science, science, information technology and so on. Librarians possessing knowledge of a specific subject in addition to a degree in library science have an edge over others for getting a job in the library of a technical institute. In some jobs, knowledge of a foreign language is needed.

Various universities, colleges, polytechnics, as well as distance learning institutions around the country offer courses in Library Science. In most of the institutes selection is through an entrance test. 

Institutes

  • Department of Library Science, University of Delhi
  • Panjab University, Chandigarh.
  • Kurukshetra University , Haryana.
  • Guru Nanak Dev University, Amritsar
  • Gujarat University, Ahmedabad
  • Department of Library and Information Science, Dr. Zakir Hussain Library, Delhi.
  • Bombay University, Bombay
  • Calcutta University, Calcutta
  • Madras University, Chennai
  • Jamia Millia Islamia, New Delhi.
  • Medical Library Association of India (MLAI), AIIMS, New Delhi offers a diploma course in Medical Librarianship.

 

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