Library Science

Changing Role of Library Professionals in Digital Environment

1.0 Introduction:

The academic libraries are moving gradually towards supporting information-driven economy rather than the conveyance of ready-made answers. Information and library services should on their part to take care of the consistently developing demand for information and media educated subjects, who have the right skills required in exploring through the huge measures of both information and disinformation freely accessible to anybody with access to the Internet.

In the present digital environment, the Information Literacy skills of advanced inhabitants or the alleged Google generation has been subjected to discussion. New technologies are very familiar to the pupils as they are grown up in the digital era using different kinds of gadgets of the advanced age, which thus has driven them to think and process information on a very basic level uniquely in contrast to their ancestors. ‘Net Generation’ and ‘Gaming Generation’, to give some examples paying less respect to the terminology employed, they all offer the view that since these ages are naturally introduced to the computerized world, they not just observe these innovations and the Internet as ‘regular’ yet will likewise challenge the present types of instructing and learning on every single instructive level, including advanced education.Library Professionals Development

Information and library services must take care of the consistently evolving demand for information and media literate people, who have all the fundamental skills required in the ICT driven world. This is the reason the information literacy, or often illiteracy, of the Google generation is a remark considered important by the academic libraries moreover.

Accessibility of digital collections is specifically connected to the help of knowledge creation. Obviously offering access to resources isn’t sufficient: in order to really support knowledge creation, libraries must also offer easy access to guidance. The role of librarianship has changed over the period of time and they are supporting and encouraging users in finding out the answers by themselves instead of providing ready answers. Educating students and faculty in information skills and utilizing the digital collections has a basic impact in this development, and in addition endorsing the instructive utilization of these collections. Library services should likewise be made accessible and usable for those users who can access them on the web.

As more elective information providers and services wear down the traditional offerings of an academic library, it is vital that a library more nearly adjusts itself to the exceptional needs of its host institution. This pattern will probably require that academic libraries turn out to be more divergent than comparable, similarly as universities are progressively endeavoring to separate themselves from others. Library and Informational Science (LIS) Professionals can’t depend individually on their own college and university experiences to illuminate the outline and arrangement of services in the present academic libraries.

1.1 The Changing Roles of Libraries and Library Professionals:

At one time libraries were just regarded as storehouse of books whereas LIS professionals were merely as custodian of these books. With the advent of technology the scenario of libraries has changed. The rapid change in technology has become the major cause of revolution in the field of library & information services. It has changed the mode of delivery of services from traditional information sources to e-resources, online databases and online information storage & retrieval etc. Computers are being used in libraries to process, store, retrieve and disseminate information. Now a day’s libraries are not judge by quantitative resources. These drastically changes, if managed properly can be used effectively and efficiently to provide the right information to the right user at right time. The Information and communication technology not only affected the complex housekeeping operations of libraries, but also facilitates communication through networks for collection, storage and dissemination of information and have become a vast ocean of internet-based services.

The ICT has made a tremendous impact on every profession including librarianship. The LIS professional has to cope-up with the proliferation of information as well as the high expectation of the user. ICT has changed the societal needs and working styles of library and information professional. The technology is changing rapidly, therefore, library professionals’ need to upgrade with new technological awareness, only then they can provide the best possible services to their target users.

During the past two decades, the dissemination of information has changed thoroughly. There is a digital publication chain. Even printed books are a part of this chain. And the culture of using publications has changed. Especially the “fast food” i.e. scholarly papers and journals are used in the digital form; this is due to the fact that rapidity and ease of use are of great value to the academics. This might have a great role in the digitization of the printed culture. As more books are published in printed format, more of the older printed books are being digitized. Libraries face new challenges: how to save the printed heritage for future generations and by whom.

The rapid development of technology, Digitalisation of information, availability of e-resources and increasing demand of users has changed the scenario of libraries in the present era. Now a day’s libraries have reached beyond the four walls of building & have converted into digital or Virtual libraries. The information and communication technology has also brought the drastic change in traditional method of information storage, retrieval, and dissemination, which posed challenges for LIS professionals to move from traditional role of librarian to information or technology manager. Today’s librarian needs to update with the latest technology.

1.1.1 LIS Professionals and Capacity Building:

Libraries are treated as a chief source for the development of the people and society along with storing and retrieving of multifaceted information to its users (viz. students, research scholars, faculties and others) in the global scenario. The libraries since their inception are serving the betterment of human society and have become part of the human civilization.

The libraries have seen many radical changes over the period of time from chained documents, stored clay tablets, hand written materials, print forms during the medieval period and in the present days libraries are experiencing cloud computing environment where the information is stored in the clouds (i.e. online) and can be retrieved by any user from any place of the world. A library is a cultural, educational, and informational institution that provides for the satisfaction of spiritual/intellectual and informational needs of the citizens by accumulating, systematizing, storing, and spreading the printed literature and other materials (Zakon, 2000). Though some of the services have eliminated completely from the libraries many major services are still retaining in today’s digital environment.

In this electronic society, all the procedures and functions of libraries or information centers are being automated and the majority of information resources are available to the users in electronic formats. This has forced libraries to adopt the latest tools, techniques, and technology in all aspects of library functions and services such as collection development, organization, dissemination, and preservation procedures. Hence, to deal with this digital environment, the present library staff has to acquire additional skills. Other pressure for libraries is user’s exposure and familiarity with the digital environment. Hence, LIS professionals in order to meet the information needs of the modern users such as students, faculty and research scholars, (specifically net generation), LIS professionals are forced to use modern tools, technique, and technology. Therefore, the aim of the present study concentrated on LIS professionals and their capacity buildings programmes, specifically the university LIS professionals, in handling related tools, technique, and technology. In fact, capacity building programmes of LIS professionals means planned development of (or increase in) knowledge, output rate, management, skills and other capabilities of a library through acquisition, incentives, technology and/or training.

Capacity building programmes are basically about enhancing effectiveness, often at the administrative level. The term is sometimes be used reciprocally with other terms like organizational development, institution building, and funding plus. It is both a verb (the action of building effectiveness, often by improving specific organizational capacities such as infrastructure, operations, financial health, and programs.

Capacity building programmes play an important role in carrying out general process by returning the efficiency and improves organizational structures and processes, such as mandate, mission, responsibilities, accountabilities, communications, and deployment of human resources by building better relationships with the outside environment; and by providing better information systems, infrastructure and equipment to support the organisation’s work. This includes management, strategic planning, and implementation of programmes and projects; it improves the ability of individuals to manage and protect the environment, working as individuals, within organizations, and within the larger society by improving individual performance through better human resources development, performance management, and accountability systems.

This is often done through awareness-raising, education, training, learning-by-doing and peer learning along with it creates supporting environment with societal support, for better environmental management in all sectors of society by improving the overall political, economic, legislative, policy, regulatory, incentive and accountability frameworks within which organizations and individuals operate.

1.1.2 Changing Role of Library Professionals in Digital Environment:

Modern ubiquitous and user-friendly access to information has altered the user-approach to information, its use in learning, teaching, and research. There are many value-additions in internet landscape with regard to collaboration and sharing of information, specifically through the social network, are moving towards self-reliance. There are also some of the negative aspects due to unfiltered growth of information like non-authenticated information sources, user-created contents, self-publishing etc. All these development are questioning the survival of libraries and LIS professionals. If at all LIS professionals and libraries want to be relevant, they need to acquire new skills and new technologies prevailing time-to-time for all the function like acquisition, organization, quality assessment of the information resources and preservation in the library. Internet Environment has created a new type of relationship, collaboration, and content providers. All these development are treading towards more of collaboration and integration of library resources to the teaching and learning activities of the university itself. This distributed nature of the web has created an open, flexible and participatory learning environment, which helps many issues, very common to all related fields i.e., shared problem solving: value-addition to from various disciplines for the activities of the university like teaching, learning, and research.

It is necessary to examine the role of LIS professionals in the past, in order to understand the present role of LIS professionals in the digital environment. In ancient times, there was a little difference between an archive and a library. Earlier, collecting book was an opportunity to show once wealth or a scholarship. After nineteenth-century library collections, became universally available. Library and Information science began to systematic proper standards for defining and organize resources. LIS professionals are not confined only to keeping and preserving books.

The role of the librarian has changed from a collector and preservers of information resources to complex issues of organization, the dissemination of and access to information. During the past two decades, the role of the librarian has accelerated technological developments. US professionals are moving farther the traditional roles of collection maintenance and custodial duties to the modern roles of translating, accessing and marketing resources in the digital library environment.

1.1.3 Core Skills of LIS Professionals:

To meet the changing needs of library users in the ICT environment, US professionals are expected to continuously enhance their competencies and skills in the age of technological era in order to improve productivity and efficiency. If they don’t change with the passage of time, they always lag behind. Competencies defined as knowledge, understanding, skills and attitude essential to achieve set objectives. Skills are required for doing a job effectively and are aspect of human behaviour that are learnt and improve with practice. So, every LIS professional should have the following skills or competencies to perform their duties effectively:

a) Communication skills: Communication skills are most important and necessary at all levels of management. Through the communication, LIS professionals can bridge the gap, stay in touch, build trust, monitor performance and attain the concerted visitor. Proper communications help in controlling, misunderstanding conflicts and improving co-ordination in the groups. So the LIS professionals should have this competency to talk with their supporting staff.

b) Technical skills: Technical skill implies an understanding and proficiency in a specific kind of activity. It involves specialized knowledge, analytical ability and speciality in use of various tools and techniques. LIS professionals must have technical skills to perform his/her job effectively and efficiently.

c) Leadership skills: Leadership is a process of inspiring individuals to give their best to achieve the set goals. Leadership considered as personal qualities, behaviour styles and decisions of leaders. It is about getting people to move in right direction and motivating them to achieve desired results. It is most important skill required for a librarian to achieve the objectives.

d) Time management skills: The fourth law of Library and Information Science by Dr. S.R. Ranganathan also indicates about time management for the LIS professionals as well as for the users. The library professionals should make proper planning of all services provided by the library so that time of both, professionals or users can be saved.

e) User-orientation skills: For the smooth working of library, the user orientation is very necessary. It helps the user to make use of library and its resources and services in a user friendly manner. So, the Library and information professional should be competent for using a wide variety of method to aware the users regarding the library.

f) Collection development skills: collection development is very challenging in the modern ICT era because LIS professionals have to manage both physical documents as well as e-resources. So the LIS professionals should have through knowledge of both print and non-print resources and he/she must keep them update themselves regarding the best resources, the current needs of library users can be fulfilled.

g) Managerial skills: A LIS professionals should have a managerial skill like planning, directing, designing, supporting and implementing for the smooth working of the library. He should have knowledge of total quality management as well as human resource management for achieving the set objective.

h) Interpersonal skills: LIS professionals should have the interpersonal or interactive skill to build and maintain the relationship with one another in order to achieve the objectives of the library. He/she must encourage their supporting staff to give their best to achieve the target. Interpersonal skill is the most effective tool of professional for achieving the desired results.

i) ICT skills: Information and communication technology is developing day by day in all type of libraries. So, LIS professionals should have proper knowledge or enough skill to handle the technology which is being used in libraries to perform various operations of a library like housekeeping operations, networking and internet use.

j) Motivating skills: Motivating means to move the people in the direction in which you want to go to achieve the goal. Motivation can be described as goal-directed behavior. Motivational skills are also important managerial skills to get the desired results by motivating the employees to give their best to achieve the desired objectives.

Information Technology is swiftly changing the entire world, making new difficulties and openings. LIS professionals need to confront numerous perplexing difficulties, make utilization of the technological open doors and react to every one of these progressions decidedly. LIS professionals with modern technological skills are in great demand. They have incredible open doors and splendid vocation prospects as long as they enhance their expert and technological skills. Otherwise, it becomes even difficult to continue in the modern libraries. Those professionals that envision and grasp change valuably, imaginatively and insightfully will be the ones, who are well on the way to survive, flourish, create and succeed as opposed to decrease and endure later on. LIS professionals require vision for present day proficient skills and technological skills keeping in mind to survive in the 21st Century.

Original Reference Article:

  • Anand, R. (2018). Capacity Building of Library Professionals in the Digital Environment A Study of Universities of Karnataka State. Karnatak University.

Md. Ashikuzzaman

Work at North South University Library, Bangladesh.

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