ICT and Information

ICT Based Library Services

Some library users are adopting electronic habits, making increasing use of the new ICT including computers, the Internet, the Web, Intranet, Extranet, and other technologies. As a result, library users are placing new demands on their libraries. They require access to the latest information, updated information resources and access to ICT facilities that they could use in their work.

Use of ICT in libraries enhances user’s satisfaction. It provides numerous benefits to library users. Some the benefits are “

  • Provide speedy and easy access to information
  • Provides remote access to users
  • Provides round the clock 24×7 access to users
  • Provides access to unlimited information from different sources
  • Provides information flexibility to be used by any individual increased flexibility
  • Provides increased flexibility
  • Facilitates the reformatting and cumbering of data from different sources.

Libraries are also providing various ICT-based services to their users, including the following.

1. Web-based Online Public Access Catalogues (Web-OPAC):

The internet and web-based technologies have made it possible for the libraries to provide access to their catalogues globally. It helps the library users to access to information from anywhere in the world when OPAC is available on the internet. The library users also find it easier to learn and use the OPACs from different library systems. Web-based OPAC allows for linking to other information resources such as tables of content, full-text documents, author, title, publisher, publication year etc.

Figure- Example of Web OPAC (Gujarat University Library, Gujarat State)

The Internet and Web-based technologies have made it possible for libraries to provide access to their catalogues on the local intranets, extranets and sometimes via the Internet. This arrangement, especially when the OPAC is available on the Internet, makes it possible for library users to access the facilities from anywhere in the world and for 24X7. This is possible because most library software systems now include Web-based interfaces to OPACs, as opposed to telnet-based access systems. Library users also find it easier to learn and use the OPACs from different library systems since they only have to know how to use one universal access client, the Web browser. Web-based OPACs also allow for linking to other information resources such as tables of content, full-text documents, and works/titles by the same author

2. Digital Library Service:

Digital library provides a variety of digital information sources. It reduces the physical space, the user can access to information remotely and it also provides access to distributed information resources. Its advantage is that it has the ability to handle multilingual content. Using ICTs librarians are creating digital libraries, that is libraries where some or all of the holdings are available in electronic form, and the services of the library are also made available electronically — frequently over the Internet so that users can access them remotely (Rosenberg 2005:2). Digital libraries are made up of digital collections including document surrogates like bibliographic records and indexes in addition to full-text documents, videos, images some of which cannot be represented or distributed in printed formats. These digital works include both internal and external resources. In an academic environment, a digital library can provide students with access to educational materials, i.e. solved and unsolved problem sets, courseware modules (drills, simulations, models, virtual lab benches, and class presentation materials; while in a national library environment, digital libraries opens up the information resources for access by library users located across the country. In most countries, national libraries are located in the capital cities and therefore, access to their resources is restricted mainly to those that can afford to travel to the capital city. Digital library resources of national libraries can be accessed even from remote places.

3. Electronic Document Delivery Service:

The libraries are implementing ICT-based Inter-Library Lending (ILL) using networks to deliver copies of journal articles and other documents in digital format like PDF (Portable Document Format) to the users’ desktops. It helps the users to access information which is not available in their respective libraries. It is one of the most useful services for users, specifically research scholars of remote areas.

4. Institutional Repository Service:

Institutional Repository (IR) is a set of services that a university offers to the members of its community for the management and distribution of digital materials by the institution and its community members. It is most essentially an organization committed to the stewardship of these digital materials, including long-term preservation where appropriate, as well as organization and access or distribution (Lynch, 2003). It provides citation features, easy access to the content and the content can be stored permanently. In addition to materials that are acquired from outside, university libraries also collect a lot of materials published locally. Most university libraries have special collections of local materials such as theses and dissertations, research reports, examination papers, conference papers, newsletters and seminar papers, journal articles by academic members of staff. ICTs have made it possible to provide access to these resources in full text, accessed via the institutions’ intranet, extranet or over the Internet. This is being done through Institutional Repositories (Ws). An institutional repository is defined as a database with a set of services to capture, store, index, preserve and redistributes an institution’s research outputs in digital formats.

The objectives of an institutional repository are:

  • To provide open access to institutional materials, i.e. research reports, articles, technical reports, annual reports, seminar papers, etc
  • To offer the opportunity for long-term storage and preservation of digital assets
  • To aid the management of often easily forgotten (grey) literature such research reports, technical reports, etc.

Institutional repositories involve different stakeholders, each bringing different contributions to the repository, and librarians are among the key stakeholders in institutional repository projects. Librarians bring skills and standards required to manage digital information resources and work towards continued preservation of and access to digital resources.

5. Current Awareness Service- CAS:

Current Awareness Services has been an important means for keeping the users up to date in their areas of interest. A current awareness service may be as simple as a copy of the table of contents or a bulletin containing bibliographic records, of articles selected from the current issues of journals and other material, and usually organized by subjects. Libraries now compile current awareness bulletins using a predefined search strategy and running on the database either on CD-ROM or online periodically and getting the desired output. Subject to copyrights, the output can also be stored on a local system, and disseminated online (internet, intranet) and offline (print, CD-ROM, email). Table of contents of most journals is available free from the publishers’ sites. Some publishers even offer free email update of the table of contents. A large number of electronic publishing sites or portals now offer current information via email to registered users. For example, one can register on New York Times newspapers to receive a summary of news on daily basis.

The Internet has enabled a lot of innovations in contents, methods of production and distribution of current awareness products. Tools such as Listserv, Weblog, Webzines, and e-newsletters are common. Listsery gives the latest information, hot topics, ideas and opinions, a chance to discuss issues, a source of advice and assistance. Weblogs literally log the web. They review, select and package the latest relevant information, in a subject area. Some examples of web-based current awareness service are The NSDL Scout Report for Math, Engineering, and Technology (http://scout.wisc.edu/Reports/NSDL/MET/Current/) and Free Pint (www.freepint.com) are examples of web-based current awareness services.

6. Audio-Visual Services:

Audio-visual materials are important sources of information, education, and entertainment. Many libraries particularly media libraries and large academic and public libraries hold audiovisual material such as music, films, pictures, and photographs etc. Old media of LP records and tape slide have long been replaced with audio and video tape. The new multimedia of an audio CD, Video CD (VCD), and Digital Video Disks (DVD) have the advantage of higher storage capacity, random access and longer life than audio and video tapes and cassettes. Many libraries allow their members to borrow these. Multimedia documents can now be played on standard PCs, stand-alone or networked. Recent developments in storage media, compression, and encryption technology have made it possible to store a large number of multimedia documents on the hard disk and disseminate through the internet. Software such as Quick Time Player, Microsoft Media Player etc is now freely available to play or see these documents in a browser. You will learn more about various hardware, software and document formats that are used for creation, storage, distribution and use of digital multimedia documents later in the course.

7. Online User Education:

Libraries are using ICTs, especially the Web, to implement online based bibliographic or library use (library literacy) programmes targeting their clients. Among others, these programmes include online or CD-ROM based tutorials on searching online resources and virtual tours of library collections, and these are mainly accessed on intranets, extranets or the Internet. Use of ICTs enables libraries to avoid problems associated with the use of lecture-based approaches or library orientation programmes. Problems such as dealing with large numbers of students or having a shortage of staff to deliver the programmes or too little time to deliver so much information to students. In addition, ICTs offer students an opportunity to follow the programmes at their own pace in their own time.

8. Readers’ Advisory and E-Reference Services:

ICTs offer libraries an opportunity to provide Web-based versions of readers’ advisory services and reference services. These include services such as informing users via the Web about new releases or additions to the library collection, selective dissemination of information (SDI), announcements, and facilities for readers to interact with the reference staff (Virtual Reference Desks), etc. In academic institutions offering courses via distance learning, libraries are able to support their students through ICT based advisory services.

9. Electronic theses and dissertations (ETDs):

Related to institutional repositories, especially in university libraries, is the provision of access to full-text copies of Electronic Theses and Dissertations (ETD). Without ICTs it has been impossible to access full-text copies of theses and dissertations from a remote location. While in developed countries, theses and dissertations have been made available on microfiche and microfilm, in sub-Saharan Africa, the only way to have access to these resources has been by paying a visit to the libraries where the collections are housed. As a result, theses and dissertations in Africa have largely been closed collections accessed mainly by students and researchers residing in the host country. ICTs have changed this arrangement. Some universities libraries in the SCANUL-ECS region, especially in South Africa, are implementing projects aimed at providing access to full-text copies of ETDs and these include the libraries of the following universities: MSUB, GU, and HNGU.

10. Online Chat Services:

Online chat may refer to any kind of communication over the Internet, which offers an instantaneous transmission of text-based messages from sender to receiver. In Libraries, it can be used for online reference service and real-time consulting service. Online chat may address as well as point-to-point communications as well as multicast communications from one sender to many receivers.

11. Electronic Books Service:

The elements that are considered as importing for the use of E-books in an academic library are the Content, Software and Hardware Standards, Protocols, Digital Rights Management, Access, Archiving, privacy, market, pricing and features. Electronic books (e-Books) are one way to enhance the digital library with global 24X7 access to authoritative information, and they enable users to quickly retrieve and access specific research material easily, quickly, and effectively.

12. Electronic Journals:

Service Electronic journal may be defined broadly as any journal, magazine, newsletter or type of electronic serial publication which is available over the internet and can be accessed using different technologies such as the World Wide Web, Gopher, FTP, telnet, e-mail or listserv. Many publishers who offer subscriptions to print journals, sometimes also offer a subscription to the electronic version of the journal free of charge. Some of the publishers who are providing e-journals include Emerald, Elsevier, Sage, Springer, EBSCO, J-Gate, John Wiley, etc.

13. Electronic Mail (E-mail) Service:

This medium can also be used to send and receive emails. This is commonly and widely used with the internet facilities. E-mail is very useful for sending messages to and from remote areas with the enhanced network. Further, it is also useful in various aspects of the library environment. Thus, it may be stated that e-mail may play a significant role in information dissemination services.

E-mail can be used as a tool to communicate with the users, to serve them by giving EDDS (Electronic Document Delivery Service). It is a web-based excellent media and most probably the most popular media. And we the library professionals can use this web medium for various purposes especially for delivering some web-based services. It helps to contact the publisher, vendor etc.

14. Internet Service:

As a source of serious subjects of the universe of knowledge, has become information superhighway and opened the floodgates for scholarly communication. The Internet is a truncated version of inter-networking, which refers to interconnecting two or more computer networks. The Internet is described as a worldwide network of computer and people. It is an important tool for global online services. The emergence of Internet offers very high bandwidth, which will widen the scope for information processing and dissemination as never before. Internet connects universities, colleges, schools, and other educational institutions for information sharing and exchange. Access to information through the Internet has changed the total scenario of librarianship.

15. Reprographic & Micrographic Service:

These technologies are still widely used technology in libraries globally. Most of the research libraries have a reprographic machine and provide photocopies of any document on demand. Microform is a generic term for all information carriers which use microfilm or similar optical media (including study) for the high-density recording and storage of optically encoded information in the form of micro images of the printed document, bit patterns or holograms.

16. Document Scanning Services:

Scanner is important equipment in the modernization of library. It is useful for scanning text, image and content pages of books and providing great help for establishing a digital and virtual library.

17. Library Network Service:

The important function of the network is to interconnect computers and other communication devices so that data can be transferred from one location to another instantly. Networks allow many users to share a common pathway and communicate with each other. The networks include the local area network (LAN) in library housekeeping and resource sharing and wide area network (WAN) that covers wide geographic area such as a country or state, that covers limited geographic area such as campus, or building e.g. – DELNET, ADINET, INDONET, INFLIBNET, MALIBNET, NICNET, ADINET etc are major WAN in India.

18. Open Source Software Service:

Open Source Software or the OSS is freely available computer software, which allows altering the source code and customizing the software to anyone & for any purpose. In the last few years we have seen the development of a number of ILS products in the open source world such as Integrated Library Systems (ILSs) like Koha; Digital library software, like Greenstone; Digital Repository Software, like DSpace; Content Management Software, like Moodle, etc.

19. Library Portal Service:

A library portal is a single access point combining the library catalogues subscribed database, electronic journals etc. Library portal meets the individual needs of the users and the portal is now the standard interface to generate library resources and services through single access and management point for users. Librarians are becoming increasingly aware that the multiplication of electronic resources is a problem for end users. Users find it difficult to have the most appropriate database or resource to search for their information need. Library portal reduces the barrier of users to remember various log-on. Example: Jayakar Library Portal.

20 Ask-A-Librarian Service:

Ask-A-Librarian services are Internet-based question and answer service that connects users with individual who possess specialized subject knowledge and skill in conducting precision searches. Most “Ask-a-Librarians” services have a web-based question submission form or an e-mail address or both. Users are invited to submit their queries by using web forms or through e-mail. Once a query is read by a service, it is assigned to an individual expert for answering. An expert responds to the query with factual information and or a list of information resources. The response is either sent to the user’s e-mail account or is posted on the web so that the user can access it after a certain period of time. Example: Oxford College Library.

21. Bulletin Board Service:

A bulletin board is an electronic communications forum that hosts posted messages and articles connected to a common subject or theme or interest. It allows users to call in and either leaves or retrieves messages. The messages may be directed to all users of the bulletin board or only to particular users. But all messages can be read by all users. Several libraries are using bulletin boards for their web-based library services. The bulletin board system is also used as an interactive interface to invite suggestions on activities and services of a library. It can also be used as an interface to distribute library services. A Bulletin Board System, or BBS, is a computer system running software that allows users to connect and log in to the system using a terminal. Once logged in, a user can perform functions such as uploading and downloading software and data, reading news and bulletins, and exchanging messages with other users, either through electronic mail or in public message boards.

Reference Article:

  • K.m, P. (2018). Use of ict resources and services at state university libraries in Gujarat a study.

Md. Ashikuzzaman

Work at North South University Library, Bangladesh.

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