Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Technology Management P- 12. Management of Libraries and Information Centres & Knowledge Centres * By :PK gupta

इस ब्लॉग्स को सृजन करने में आप सभी से सादर सुझाव आमंत्रित हैं , कृपया अपने सुझाव और प्रविष्टियाँ प्रेषित करे , इसका संपूर्ण कार्य क्षेत्र विश्व ज्ञान समुदाय हैं , जो सभी प्रतियोगियों के कॅरिअर निर्माण महत्त्वपूर्ण योगदान देगा ,आप अपने सुझाव इस मेल पत्ते पर भेज सकते हैं -

Technology Management

P- 12. Management of Libraries and Information Centres & Knowledge Centres *

By :PK Gupta


Libraries and information centres, the fountain heads of knowledge and information have not been impacted as much in its history as it has been since the turn of the 21st century. The impact of technologies, especially information and communication technologies have changed the very face of libraries. With the advent of ICT, the management of the libraries has become largely technology based and the user behaviour is also technology oriented.
There are many technologies being used in libraries. These can broadly be categorized as ICT and non-ICT based technologies. ICT based technologies include computers, its peripheral devices including printers, bar code reader, RFID equipment, wired and wireless networks including the internet. Non-ICT based technologies include photocopiers, microfilm readers and any other such equipment in the library. These are relatively fewer than the ICT based equipment.
As the number of technologies in the libraries increase, the management of these technologies become important. ICT technologies are known to become outdated and obsolete rapidly. In addition to having a short shelf life, the technologies are also prone to break downs and repairs. Management of these technologies in libraries include not only maintenance and upkeep of the equipment but also planning on migration of technologies. As a technology becomes outdated it becomes necessary to discard old technologies and adopt new ones or upgrade the existing technologies with suitable additions. Although it is difficult to forecast new technologies that will emerge, the library should be quick to adopt and adapt useful new technologies. In the present generation of tech-savvy users, having new technologies has become necessary to keep up with the user behaviour.

Human resource for technology management

Technology management require the librarian to have technology oriented skills. Libraries should induct qualified IT personnel to manage the various technologies available in the libraries. The number of persons required to manage technology depends on the size of the library and more importantly on the nature and number of IT based activities carried out by a library. Typically, for a medium library, there should at least be one professional dedicated to oversee and manage technology. New generation library and information professionals have to skill themselves adequately to be able to handle an automated or digital library.
LIS Courses until the turn of the century did not have strong IT curriculum and consequently many librarians lack ICT skills or the skills necessary to manage ICT in the library. However in the recent years, most LIS schools have included ICT in their curriculum but the knowledge and skills that are being imparted to the learners is largely inadequate. This has to do with constantly changing ICT based topics and the LIS curriculum not being revised as often as it should be. The competencies required to teach emerging tools and technologies is also largely absent in most LIS schools. The short term training courses help in this regard to a great extent by helping not only in-service librarians but also new professionals to get skilled. In the absence of trained library manpower, IT personnel are finding opportunities in libraries to implement and manage technologies. Some increasingly required ICT skills in libraries are as follows:
  • Linux operations
  • Open source web server such as Apache
  • Open source DBMS such as MySQL
  • Scripting language such as PERC PHP
  • Knowledge of implementing and operating software such as Koha, Dspace, GSDL, eprints etc

Free and open source software

Libraries have been among the early institutions that have benefitted by the availability and use of free software. UNESCO’s CDS/ISIS software was one of the earliest free software available to libraries for developing computerised bibliographic database. CDS/ISIS could also suitably be modified for automating housekeeping operations in libraries. It could be said that availability of free software helped in hastening the automation process in libraries. However, over the years commercial software gained currency and numerous user friendly proprietary software have become available for automation purposes. The appearance of open source software at the turn of the century have impacted the libraries and information centres. Most libraries the world over perpetually being fund constrained, found the open source software as an opportunity to not only save on valuable financial resources but at the same time overcome the many limitations inherently present in proprietary software.
However, open source software come with some disadvantages, and one of them is the lack of skills in majority of the current library professionals in handling open sources software. This lack of necessary skills in handling open source software has limited its use despite the easy availability of many open source software for library applications.

Library and the IT department

Today, most organisations have a dedicated IT Department that takes case of the overall IT requirements. The IT department usually manages the institutional website and takes care of the overall IT requirements of the institution. Many organisations that deal with large quantities of information have data centres that not only store but disseminate the data 24/7. In the absence of IT personnel in the library, it is in the library’s interest that it should collaborate with personnel in the IT Division. The IT department can provide all necessary technical input and assistance to the library. So, library has to network with the IT Department to gainfully utilize the expertise of the IT Department personnel.
The libraries can also look to hiring IT consultant in the library. This approach will be useful in the absence of necessary IT personnel in the organisation or for short-term projects that require the involvement of a IT person for a limited duration of time. Further, computing being a rapidly evolving discipline, staff may not have the time to develop expertise in newly developed areas. Full-time or part time consultants can help the libraries in such situations.
Another group of persons that the libraries can gainfully make use of are the vendors. The vendors are after under-utilized as a source of technical expertise. Although, vendors would have bias towards their own products or services, the libraries can avail the expertise of the vendors to understand about the new technologies and products. It is up to the libraries to question and evaluate the responses critically.

Cloud computing

The recent years have seen the development of the cloud computing and platforms are available to the libraries as a service. Rather than the libraries having procure or buy the hardware, software and other infrastructure, cloud computing allows libraries and information services to license these as services. The emergence of e-resources including e-journals and databases have seen the libraries learning the nuances of licensing the information resources. Licensing of software and infrastructure are also not very different as the focus is on availing services on demand rather that setting up or acquiring resources inhouse. It has been shown that cloud computing offers huge potential in terms of cost savings and better services

Changing technology

Librarians are expected to be adept in not only building the collection of the library but also developing and managing the technology in the library. Here, the librarians are expected to not only manage their in-house technologies but also offer some level of support to the user oriented technologies which include laptops, tablets, mobile phones etc. With the growth of wireless networks, users have devices that can connect to the wireless networks and the can librarians are expected to provide not only provide basic connectivity but also help the users with instructions, installing software etc.
When to discard, change or upgrade a technology is a challenging question the librarians are faced with. Computer and software get outdated rather quickly. So does most other technologies is libraries. How long to retain older technology is usually determined by need and the availability of funds. But it has be realised that older technology requires repair and fails more often leading to down times and user frustrations. Further, older technologies cannot accommodate new, lower cost features and functions designed to enhance productivity. So, the librarians should keep watch and maintain general current awareness on new technological developments and on the availability of new technology that is better than the earlier one, the older technology should be replaced with the new one. The new technology not only brings with it the required robustness but opens up potentialities for new uses through the availably of new functions.

Technology maintenance

Maintenance and upkeep of the hardware and software is essential for the uninterrupted functioning of technologies in the library. Computer hardware today are very robust than what it used to be a couple of decades ago. Despite that, appropriate handling and care of the equipment are vital for its upkeep. Cleanliness of the hardware, avoiding mishandling, identifying and rectifying obvious problems can go a long way in maintaining the ICT infrastructure in the library. Availing comprehensive warranty, entering into annual maintenance contract, post-warranty period and timely renewals of AMC are essential. Instructing the users about the do’s and don’ts in handling and operating the equipment is required.
As regards to the software, updating of the software versions, avoiding pirated software, and implementing antivirus software are essential. Indiscriminate use of thumb and flash drives and perpetual access to internet opens up possibilities for computers to get infected with viruses, Trojans spam etc.
Good management of technology in the library should aim at preventing down times. Accidental theft or loss of devices such as laptop can happen. If the library is storing any critical information, these should be protected or encrypted.
The proliferation of wireless networks makes it easy for anyone to access internet but also makes the systems vulnerable owing to wireless access points being open and available for anyone to access. Open wireless networks should be avoided and authorisations should be provided by the library for ensuring that systems are not monitored or managed, the users and even the individual employees in the libraries can store their own personal data including personal pictures, software games etc. This often leads to poorly performing systems and security breeches.

Planning for Technology management

Planning is an activity that is largely futuristic in nature to ensure that right actions are performed at the right time towards achieving a larger goal. Technology management requires planning so that efficiency and effectiveness remain the foundations on which the library oriented technology operations are carried out by the staff and users of the library. In planning for technology management in the library, technological assessment can be the first step. The current or prevailing technology management in the library has to be assessed. An inventory of the current technologies available in the library, their dates of inception, present state, etc have to be assessed and documented. An assessment of the currently available technologies should also be made so that the current technology generally available and that the technology that the library has can be compared.
 The future requirements also need to be assessed based on the library’s future plan. Feedback of the users and interaction with other libraries including benchmarking can help. The manpower available vis-a-vis required, data backup, security, maintenance, etc also need to planned ahead so that management of technologies is the libraries become easy.
It is also important to have technology in the libraries as that will serve useful purposes. Having technology for technology sake is inappropriate. Requirement of technology in the library should be with a specific purpose.

Library space planning and technology management

The fifth law of library science states that library is a growing organism. With the adoption of technology, libraries continue to grow but in terms of the physical space libraries are shrinking. E-books, E- journals and databases have enormously reduced the need of physical space in the libraries. Even the computers, which have been the navigating and access devices are reducing in size with the shift towards laptops and tablets. However, these new devices have also compelled the need to re-design the learning and reading spaces. The traditional library learning space or the reading area had tables, chairs or carrels with adequate lighting. This has changed with the need to have these space adapted for electronic devices that include electric and internet cabling or installing wireless hubs. The provisioning of these electric powered connectivity hubs would turn out to be inadequate or rendered ineffective if these are not backed by in interrupted power supply in event of electricity supply break-downs.
Adherence to standards should be ensured so that varied devices can be supported that have compliance with the standards. Following standardization is also helpful to have safety measures in place. As libraries are turning digital, it should be borne in mind that this transitioning is an evolutionary process and it would take years or even decades for large libraries to turn completely digital owing to technological, legal and other barriers. In this transitory period, the print resources would play a dominant role and both print and e-resources will co-exist and new age discovery services will play an important role to facilitate access to these resources from a single plat form.
Space consuming technologies such as the RFID technologies are making in roads into the library. The many advantages of having RFID technology in the libraries is well known but as of today RFID continues to be an expensive technology that is limiting its widespread use across libraries. Further, having all components of the RFID system including tagging and sorting stations, book drop box, security gates etc, require space in the library. The libraries adopting these technologies have to assess their space requirements so that these can be smoothly implemented and effectively used.
Including multi-functional devices such as scanner cum-photocopier cum-printer and use of network printer instead of stand –alone printer would help in mangy valuable library space.

Managing mission-critical library infrastructure

Marshall Breading, a widely read library technology consultant writes that “mission critical infrastructure plays a key role in how the library keeps pace with its day-to-day activities and whether it achieves its strategies and goals”. He states that “a library technical infrastructure as something that requires constant attention and occasional overhaul. Under-investing in technology can weaken the performance of the organisation. While overall budgets may be shrinking a solid technical infrastructure can help the library do more with fewer personnel resources and reap the best advantage from its print and electronic collection. Just as library physical facilities require ongoing maintenance, repair and occasional renovation, projects have to rework spaces in response to changing use patterns, its technical infrastructure likewise demands constant attention and periodic evaluation”.
Libraries have to plan to be also to manage without the Internet for even short spells. Circulation and OPACs are critical application in libraries and despite networks being robust with little down time, libraries shill have to plan to disruptions. Having fall back or redundant systems is essential as switching over to manual methods may not be possible in the long run. Breeding also emphasises the need to stay up-to-date with regard to software. Most libraries do not update the versions of the software they use despite alerts being provided by most of the software for refreshing or adding patches. Regular updating the software can help in warding-off attacks by bots and malware. Missing a few consecutive version updates can make it difficult to get the latest version update. Running older versions of software will mean that “the library is not benefiting from any new functionality that may have been added or from buy fixed the have been implemented”.


As tradition libraries are evolving to automated, digital and virtual, libraries technologies have become an integral part of the libraries. The technology based operation necessitates the management of the technologies in the libraries. In this unit, we have seen why and how technologies can be managed in libraries. As technologies become varied, its management become as important as its acquisitive.

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