What is the value of the IGNOU degree


Code Number: 039-120-G
Division Number: VI
Professional Group: Management and Marketing - Part II
Joint meeting with: Information Technology and Social Sciences Libraries
Meeting Number: 110
Simultaneous interpretation: Yes

Libraries and Librarians in India on the Threshold of the 3rd Millennium: Challenges and Risks

Kalpana Dasgupta
Central Secretariat Library,
New Delhi, India


The information age with its electronic possibilities brings with it numerous challenges in all areas of development, since information is the basis for every development. Libraries, information centers and librarians must take their share of the challenges and risks in order to participate in development. To bring about change, India needs a vision for the 3rd millennium and every area needs to embrace the latest developments in information technology. This includes the functional change of libraries: from inventory orientation to service orientation; Conservation and securing of access are fundamental; as well as marketing information and library services and training library professionals to cope with the new environment and employing management techniques to handle the new goals, as well as developing nationwide policies for libraries and information centers that meet the needs of the various sectors of Indian librarianship considered.


The socio-economic conditions in India are subject to major changes that will affect all areas of national development. Information as a crucial component of the overall development will certainly influence all conceivable changes in all areas. The 3rd millennium will witness significant changes in all areas of life and information will become the key to development.

The information age brings numerous challenges and risks to the creator and disseminator of information. Libraries and information centers also face a variety of challenges. The greatest challenge is the fundamental change in the character of future libraries and information centers.

Libraries in India - the scenario

The diversity of Indian librarianship must always be taken into account when talking about a vision for the 3rd millennium, because the various areas of Indian librarianship are at different stages of development, so that there is no uniform solution and no uniform approach for the situation in India gives. The Indian library and information system is divided into 5 major areas: National Libraries, University Libraries, Specialty and Scientific Libraries, State Libraries and Public Libraries. Although the various library and information centers are equally important to their respective clientele, the academic and specialized libraries are much more developed and more modern than the other areas due to various factors. In the 3rd millennium, Indian libraries and librarians are faced with a variety of challenges, the most important of which is the fundamental change in the character of libraries: Libraries and librarians have to change - from inventory orientation to service orientation, from custodian of books and documents to information manager and distributor of Information. To make this fundamental change, India needs a vision for the 3rd millennium. As the individual areas address the big questions raised by the gradually emerging information society, they will evolve. Information technology will play the most important role in this changing scenario. If libraries want to take advantage of the various components of information technology in each field, they must ensure that:
  1. assess the needs of the library and its users;
  2. bring about the functional change of the library to more service orientation compared to inventory orientation;
  3. Cooperative use of funds and networking of libraries;
  4. Preservation and securing of access as indispensable library services;
  5. Marketing for information and library services;
  6. Further training for specialist library staff in order to cope with the new world of work;
  7. Use of management techniques in the implementation of the new goals.
At the decision-making level in India there is a need for a nationwide policy for libraries and information centers in a changing socio-economic environment that takes into account the needs of the various sectors of the library community.

In the following, the state of the library and information system in India is first analyzed before a vision for the third millennium is drawn up for each area of ​​library system.

National Libraries

The National Libraries of India are divided into 2 library types. The first group includes the National Library in Calcutta and the Public Deposit Libraries under the Legal Deposit Act: the Delhi Public Library (DPL), the Connemara Public Library, Madras and the State Central Library in Bombay. These are the archival libraries for India's printed cultural heritage.

The Legal Deposit Libraries are a very important part of the Indian National Libraries as India is a very large and multilingual country with a rich linguistic heritage. The preservation and use of publications in the national languages ​​is a national necessity. The fact that each of the four regions of India has a national deposit copy library is mainly due to the spatial extent and the different cultures of this country. The 3rd millennium must lead to collaboration between these four libraries and the National Library at the top. All of these libraries must be developed in such a way that they use funds for the acquisition and processing of the materials as well as the dissemination of information on publications in different languages ​​in a cooperative manner. This can only be achieved if these libraries are modernized to the same extent and have compatible systems in place to ensure the cooperative use of funds in associations. Since this is funded by the Indian Ministry of Culture (MfK), the standards set by the MfK must be applied in all of the libraries mentioned.

The other group includes the national specialist libraries such as the National Science Library, the National Medical Library, etc. The National Library, as the largest single library, depository and archival library for all publications in India, occupies a prominent position in both areas. In the twentieth century the national libraries developed independently of one another. Although the National Library is the legal deposit and archival library for all publications in India, its leadership role within the National Libraries has been virtually neglected. The National Science Library is part of the Indian National Scientific Documentation Center, the National Medical Library has been expanded into a specialized national library for medicine, the Indian Agricultural Research Institute, the National Social Science Documentation Center (NASSDOC), the Defense Scientific Information and Documentation Center ( DESIDOC) etc. were active in their respective fields as if on an island. In the 3rd millennium, the greatest requirement for the national library sector is to establish close cooperation between all national-level libraries and the National Library of India.

University libraries

The area of ​​university libraries includes school, college and university libraries as well as university libraries. A new millennium vision for university libraries should focus on the role of existing university libraries in addressing national problems.

Since most university libraries in India are very isolated, information must first be gathered and compared before a concept for future development is drawn up.

  1. Current operational data: inventory, user requirements, staff levels, library facilities, IT applications, library professionals, etc.
  2. A national office should be designated to carry out this work. On the other hand, a distributed approach can already be useful here. After that, every university library would collect and evaluate its own statistical data.
Cooperation at all levels - from local to global - is becoming the main aspect of the new millennium. Cooperation is a basic requirement for networking and cooperative use of funds. Therefore, the following must be ensured before a program for networking the university libraries is created:
  1. Institutional obligation to accept the specified measures.
  2. Financing and support of the solution approaches for the cooperative use of funds.
  3. Changing attitudes of library staff to take on additional responsibilities in a collaborative resource management environment.
  4. Training of staff to be aware of the changes and to be able to understand them.
If these basic requirements are met, the university libraries can develop programs for the cooperative use of funds, for training courses, for further training in the IT sector, for advice on issues relating to retro-conversion and the expansion of the IT infrastructure. All of this taken together will form the basis for conceptualizing future development and creating a vision for the country's university libraries.

School and university libraries

Except for very sophisticated private schools, most schools do not currently have a library per se. This area of ​​librarianship is very neglected and needs urgent and sustained attention. As for colleges, while most have a library, only the very well-known colleges in each state have significant libraries. This means that India is faced with the challenge of designing a future program from scratch, i.e. from building up the inventory to networking using IT solutions, and it needs a comprehensive design in order to further develop these two types of libraries over the next few centuries. Government policy of free education for all citizens still has a long way to go to produce a viable program for school libraries at the national level.

Under the leadership of the University Grants Commission (UGC), the Information and Library Network (INFLIBNET) was set up, which is to act as an inter-university office for the modernization of libraries and to take the initiative in implementing the program for future development in the field of university libraries. The university and their affiliated college libraries should be part of this development.

Distance learning

India has developed a well-organized distance learning system at the Indira Gandhi National Open University (IGNOU) in order to reach a high percentage of educated citizens as preliminary stages to the actual knowledge-based society. Because of its diversity and geographical distances, India needs a good distance learning system for all citizens of the country. The library sector is equally responsible for serving the information needs of the various strata of Indian society in order to make distance learning worthwhile. IGNOU offers some unique IT services for students, but as long as the rich collections of seminar reading in India's various libraries are inaccessible to the younger generation, the goal of distance learning will be undermined. Although the IGNOU compiles very good collections of material for its students, no distance learning program can be regarded as secure informaion without access to background information and books that are only available in university, college and libraries of individual institutions. For this reason, the libraries in this area must communicate with one another in order to also serve the needs of distance students.

Public libraries

Public librarianship in India has been developing for over a century, originally under the patronage of the aristocracy. Since Indian society is hierarchically structured, the right to learn was reserved for a few privileged people until the 19th century. Scholars and the liberal royal family sought to support the public libraries, which generally served a group of educated people. However, newly independent India, which was building a democratic society, recognized the need for public libraries that serve the common good and provide a solid foundation for democratic construction.

The federal structure of the political system in India will be decisive for the development of the public library system. According to the Indian Constitution, the development of public libraries is the responsibility of the state. All states therefore have the mandate to set up state libraries at all levels. Because of the diversity of the state level, the Ministry of Culture of the Government of India has established the Raja Rammohun Roy Library Foundation (RRRLF) as the central agency for the development of public libraries in India.

Although library legislation would be a prerequisite, the states of India have not yet passed any library laws that enable the state to act in the field of public libraries. Therefore, the RRRLF is developing a model public library law that will encompass all aspects of the development of public libraries in a changing environment. In addition, amendments to the constitution have given local administrations in rural areas responsibility for the development of public libraries. The central government is also taking carefully considered steps to make the distribution of information a major concern in all areas related to rural and social development. The third millennium is marked by a drastic change that will ensure cooperation between the information generation institutions (governmental and non-governmental institutions), libraries and the area of ​​information distribution. On the one hand, the RRRLF was given the responsibility to set up a network of public libraries in all states with the help of the Indian Ministry of Culture; on the other hand, the government is considering conceptual changes in rural areas by linking its activities to the National Literacy training program Mission (NLM) coordinated. The electronic infrastructure will be expanded in such a way that it will be possible to use various information offers in the libraries using the infrastructure of the National Informatics Center (NIC). This means that in the future there will be a program on how information can be brought to most Indians' doorsteps by means of various media, so to speak.

The RRRLF also takes care of the provision of funds for the modernization of the central state and district libraries, i.e. for the expansion of the infrastructure and the further training of staff. The Ministry of Culture has defined standards for software, networking, and bibliographical descriptions in order to ensure standardization both for the expansion of the infrastructure and for the retro-conversion of library catalogs.

State Libraries

The state libraries developed mainly in the British era - for the supply of decision-makers and administration. These libraries were always located in the departments. The libraries in the departments and ministries mainly collected official publications from their respective departments or ministries; their acquisition policy was based exclusively on the needs of the ministerial bureaucracy. Only the Central Secretariat Library (CSL) - as the largest ministry library - had a wider range of collections. In addition to the libraries in the departments and ministries, the Indian government has in the last centuries of the last millennium had special libraries in government agencies, such as the Botanical Survey of India (BSI), the Zoological Survey of India (ZSI), the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI ) etc. as well as at the Asiatic Society of Bengal. It is in the nature of these institutions that they have focused on the needs of the respective institution, i.e. a limited user group, and work in isolation from one another. The parliamentary library also serves the information needs of the elected representatives.

In the past 50 years, some government libraries have grown into well-run collections that serve an informed clientele. Since the National Informatics Center (NIC) began providing government information, the use of information technology has become a key concept in the government sector.Some of these important libraries have since been modernized and are now operating in the new environment, which will gradually lead to an adequate distribution of government information in the new millennium. Decision-making is also subject to a fundamental change, research-oriented planning and decision-making have established themselves in the state sector. Libraries and librarians must also work towards this goal. The Ministry of Culture, the central agency for library development in India, has taken steps towards collaborative funding and networking among libraries under its supervision. This includes the National Library in Calcutta, the Central Secretariat Library, the National Archives Library and the libraries at the Archaeological Survey of India and the Anthropological Survey of India etc. But there is still a long way to go before the standards set by the MfK unify and simplify this development.

Special libraries and scientific libraries

The special libraries and the libraries in the field of science and technology are at a much better level of development than those of the other four areas. Quite a few of them use computers, e-mail, CD-ROMs, and online documents. Libraries and information centers at research institutions such as the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), the Defense Research and Development Organization (DRDO), the Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR), the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), the Department of Atomic Energy (DAE), the Indian Space and Research Organization (ISRO), the Department of Science & Technology (DST) and institutes of higher education such as the Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs), the Indian Institute of Science (IIS), the Indian National Science Academy (INSA), the Indian Institutes of Management (IIMs) have been modernized and received the necessary funds for their expansion. Most of these libraries have now offered both printed and online versions of foreign bibliographic databases for more than a decade. For many years the libraries have made efforts to build machine-readable bibliographic databases and the use of CD-ROMs, etc.

Library associations

In addition to INFLIBNET, a number of alliances have been established over the past 10 years. These are either associations of cities or special professional associations. Developing Libraries Network (DELNET), Calcutta Library Network (CALIBNET); Madras Library Network (MALIBNET), Management Library Network etc. are important and helpful projects for networking and cooperative use of funds.

The future of library development and the challenges of the 3rd millennium

In the previous sections the situation of Indian librarianship up to the end of the last millennium was presented. The greatest challenge for India now is to look at the current situation and to bring about changes in order to invalidate the statements from the World Information Report from 1997-98, which says:
  • "The majority of the population does not depend on information in everyday life.
  • A large proportion of the population cannot absorb information, especially if it is disseminated in writing.
  • The vast majority of the population do not have the means to access information.
  • People are generally not used or unwilling to pay for information, or they cannot pay for it. Information does not appear in the list of their needs.
  • The existing economic structure does not favor the use of information.
  • The countries do not have the capacity to invest in infrastructure development. "
The future of Indian librarianship therefore lies in stepping down from the ivory tower of caring for an educated minority and building a system that serves the information needs of the majority of the Indian population. A fundamental paradigm shift must therefore take place in order to meet the information needs of the majority of the Indian population, who currently do not have the means to access informaion. In particular, the public library system needs to be rejuvenated and redesigned in order to cope with the current situation and future trends.

The following must be changed broadly across all library types:

  1. Library environment
  2. Isolated and isolated service offers
  3. organization structure
  4. Library holdings
  5. information-based infrastructure
  6. Information and knowledge management
The first step in this direction was taken, to some extent, in the report of the Working Group of the Planning Commission on Libraries and Informatics for the 9th Five-Year Plan 1997-2000, which sets out some requirements for Indian librarianship. In addition to the main recommendations for developing the neglected areas, all libraries must work to achieve the following:
  1. correct, prudent and efficient planning and use of resources,
  2. Library services must be of good quality and competitive.
  3. The efficiency of the libraries needs to be improved.
  4. Introduction of responsibilities for library services;

The challenges and risks for librarians and information specialists in the 3rd millennium

The greatest challenge facing Indian librarianship is to change attitudes among both library staff and users. Libraries and librarians are still at the bottom of the list of priorities in the decision-making process, librarians are barely noticed. Only when librarians and libraries take this challenge seriously can one expect the necessary changes in the system itself. It is up to the librarians to change the image of libraries: from bookstores to information service centers. Librarians need to become active participants in the knowledge economy. The various library sectors must play their potential role in the following efforts of the country:
  1. Change of the economic and social environment under the conditions of the fast competitive global market.
  2. Changed concepts for knowledge management.
  3. User-related information exchange using IT and communication technologies.
Libraries have to be able to deal with initiatives that are emerging in society in a changed IT environment. Libraries can no longer afford to be institutionalized passive observers. Everything must be done to transmit information over long distances and, if necessary, to deliver it to the end user at home.

chances and risks

The new millennium opens up unprecedented opportunities for information professionals. Employers no longer have the conventional demands, but are looking for flexible employees who - if necessary - can fill various roles and assume responsibilities. In this context, India needs to make the following changes:
  1. Change of curricula for education in library and information science.
    1. Developing both traditional and new technical skills.
    2. Development of business and organizational skills for the new service environment.
  2. While there is a need for traditional information skills, a chance will only be given to those who:
    1. understand how information is used
    2. understand how internal information is produced and who can assess its value and benefits
    3. be able to provide effective interfaces between internal and external information.
  3. The traditional expertise must be used and applied to the new situation, the current requirements must be analyzed and these skills must be applied.
  4. Creation of content that corresponds to the new learning content using IT.
  5. Take on the role of information manager by using the new technology to provide access to the rich collections in libraries.
The information specialists of tomorrow are more likely to be the "navigators of knowledge" than the collectors of information. They mediate between the users of information and the providers of information. You must have business, product development and marketing skills. The new generation of librarians in India must face these challenges and risks in order to survive in all areas of the information economy. Interchangeability and the ability to switch between fields is becoming the greatest requirement for Indian librarians.

National policy for the new millennium

If the above is to bear fruit, a nationwide policy for libraries and information systems and services needs to be drawn up to suit the new environment. The MfK drafted the National Policy on Library and Information Systems (NAPLIS) in the late 1980s, which is a good basis for drafting a new policy that encompasses future aspects of the library system as a whole. It must clarify all relevant questions, requirements, dangers and opportunities that can be foreseen in the new millennium.

India is on the verge of a fundamental change that will only be possible if a modern information system is put in place at the right time, based on the right infrastructure and managed by appropriately qualified personnel.


  1. 50 Years of Library and Information Services in India / edited by M.K. Jain and others. - Delhi: Shipra Publications, 1998
  2. Abell, Angela: Skills for the 21st Century: editorial. In: Journal of Librarianship and Information Science, 30 (4) December 1998, 211-214
  3. Indian Library Association: National Seminar on Challenges before the University libraries in India in the 21st century, Vadodara. ILA, Delhi, 1999
  4. Indian Library Association: Library Vision 2010: Indian Libraries and Librarianship in retrospect and prospect: 45th ILA Conference, Hisar. ILA, Delhi, 1999
  5. World Information Report 1997/98. Paris: UNESCO, 1997

Brief outline

Ms. Kalpana Dasgupta studied in India and the USA. She holds a postgraduate degree in Political Science from Patna University, India and an MSc in Library Science from Syracuse University. Her career as a librarian began in 1965, she has worked in the largest libraries in India. She began her professional career as a library assistant in a specialized library and rose to the position of director of the National Library of India. She currently heads the Ministry of Culture's Central Secretariat Library. She was the director of the Delhi Public Library, the largest public library system in India. With 35 years of professional experience, she works as a technical advisor to the government. The Prime Minister's Office takes her advice on the development of their library. With a wealth of experience in library management and technical development, Ms. Dasgupta has served on various high-level committees in the Government of India. She has published or edited more than 30 essays and various books on library and information science. From 2000 to 2002 she was President of the Indian Library Association (ILA), the largest national association in Indian librarianship.