Digital libraries in india an analytical study by dr. amjad ali
DIGITAL LIBRARIES IN INDIA: AN ANALYTICAL STUDY By Dr. Amjad Ali Deputy Librarian Aligarh Muslim University Aligarh- 202 002 (UP)
Statement of the Problem and Its Significance There lies an urgent need to formulate policies and define standards for the development of digital collections for every social organization without any further delay. The formulation of standards and policies cannot be done without knowing the ground reality of the contemporary digital libraries and on-going digital library projects. No comprehensive survey has been made so far on the Digital Libraries in India, hence, the significance of the present study “Digital Libraries in India: An Analytical Study” .
Aims and Objectives of the Study To survey the existing Digital Libraries available in the different organizations in India; To ascertain the current status of the existing digital libraries in India; To assess the growth and development of digital libraries in India; To critically examine the existing policies/guidelines, standards available on digital libraries in various organizations of the country; To examine the impact of these guidelines on the growth and development of digital libraries; To identify the special needs of digital libraries in India; To identify the specific area(s) that predominant digitization among the existing digital libraries in the country; To frame appropriate guidelines for the development of digital libraries; To identify major Problems and Prospects of Digital Libraries; To ascertain the different ongoing projects on Digital Libraries; To uncover the key forces or impediments that prevent the real growth and development of Digital Libraries; and To suggest possible solutions to eradicate the problems of Digital Libraries.
Literature Review Survey of literature published since 1995 has been conducted on the topic of research and reviews from national and international publications have been collected and presented. Several conferences and workshops have been organized on development of digital libraries during the last two decades within the country and abroad. A comprehensive look at the reviews shows that, there is an urgent need to examine the present status of digital libraries in India and to suggest measures for their better design and development in the country. Some of the libraries have already been developed and a large number of them are still in the process of development at the national level. They include: the Digital Library of Indira Gandhi National Centre for the Art’s Library, Nalanda Digital Library, Vidyanidhi, etc. None of the studies as seen from the reviews, seem to have dealt comprehensively with the status of the existing Digital Libraries in India, thereby making the present study exigent.
Size of the Sample The digital libraries of importance have been studied which have already been developed and/or are being developed in India in the various sectors. According to an estimate, there are large number of digital libraries in India in which the digitization process is in pipeline. Questionnaires were sent to 50 selected libraries for obtaining information on various aspects of the digital libraries. Only 25 Digital Libraries which responded have been finally selected for the purpose of present study.
Scope and Limitations of the Study The study aims to investigate the overall status of the Digital Libraries only, but not concerned about any traditional or any other library system (i.e. limitation by type or category of library system being investigated); and The study includes in its’ scope those Digital Libraries which are exclusively functioning in India, but not overseas (i.e. limitation by geography or area being covered). The study includes those digital libraries which are enlisted and available in India according to various standard sources providing listing of the digital libraries for general purpose including the sectoral digital libraries in India, but do not concern about those digital libraries of which, the functioning existence, web-visibility, and status are totally hidden and conspicuous (i.e. limitation by their visibility only.
Hypotheses of the Study The current strength and status of digital libraries in India are not so encouraging as the progress of their establishment is made at a low pace; Absence of scientific and standardized policy for balanced growth and qualitative service lack of competent manpower and professional will, coupled with paucity of funds perhaps are the key forces that prevent the real growth and development of digital libraries in India; The current digital library services and the on-going projects on digital libraries are perhaps the monopolies of a few large scientific and special libraries in India; The digital libraries are more helpful and economically viable in future for the masses; The services and activities of most of the existing digital libraries in India are currently limited to a few specific service domains; The systematically created and organized digital libraries can provide cost- effective and qualitative services to the clientele so as to facilitate resource sharing and contribute to the scientific growth and development of the society.
Research Methodology The study is based on the data collected on 25 digital libraries with specific reference to India. The digital libraries developed in various types of organizations including educational and research institutions, commercial establishments, etc. are also included in the study. A sample survey of such libraries was been conducted. The survey is made employing various methods including questionnaire, personal visits, interviews, etc and the data so obtained has been analyzed according to the established practices. Apart from the conventional methods of data collection, the e-mail facility has been used to obtain and verify the relevant information from the institutions located in the far-flung areas of the country and also to cross check the data collected from the other sources and finally their visibility.
Scheme of the Work Introduction Digital Libraries: An Overview Growth and Development of Digital Libraries Design and Functions: Problems and Prospects Analysis and Interpretation of Data Conclusion
Response Rate 106 digital libraries were located from the various sources of information at the time of study; 50 digital libraries fulfilled the criteria for survey; 25 digital libraries responded with libraries of 2 IITs, 2 IIMs, 2 universities and 19 of other institutions; Some premier digital libraries did not respond despite repeated requests and reminders. Therefore, they could not be included for the study.
Interpretation of Data Background Information Digital Library Users Hard/Soft Copy collections System/Technical Considerations Storage Medium Services Provided Membership Infrastructure Budget Source of Service Restrictions on Library Services Internet Service Providers Digital Library Projects Collaboration in Digital Libraries Findings on Model Digital Library Improvement of Existing Services
Background Information Name of the library Membership Year of establishment Year of commencement of digitization Postal address E-mail Website Information about respondents
Digital Library Users Students constitute the major category of user population 16 libraries; Faculty come next to the students (15) libraries; Research scholars constitute the third major group (12); and Scientists forms the smallest number (4) libraries.
Hard /Soft Copy Collections The National Library, Kolkota is at the top with a total collection of 25,17,000 and IBA, Noida is at the least having only 3,540 number of hardcopy documents. IIT, Bombay is right at the top with 1,06,523 periodicals, followed by Birla Institute of Technology, Ranchi (60,000), and IIM Kozikode (45,200) while, the lowest number of periodicals collection is found in IBA, Noida and PESIT, Bangalore(200 each). Taken as a whole, it is estimated that, most of the digital libraries are having more than 50.000 hardcopy documents. The Times Archives, Delhi records the highest (6,00,000) soft copies while INMANTAC, Ghaziabad records the lowest number (100) soft copies at its collection.
System/Technical ConsiderationsThe system architecture and technical considerations concern the followings: Hardware: Most of the digital libraries use different types of software; Software: Almost all the digital libraries use different software; Metadata standard: Dublin Core has been found the mostly used metadata standard; Number of pages: Only 9 libraries provided information on number of pages which range from 100 to 1,041,323 and: Total number of hits: No of hits range from 100 to 1,00,000 a day.
Storage MediumOut of the four major categories of storage mediums employed, the study clearly unfolds that, optical technology-based mediums seem to have made a steady friendship with Digital Librarians: Use of CD/DVDs (15) constitute 29.4% of the total use; Hard discs and WWW constitutes 23.5% each; and Tapes which are used only in 13.7% of the Digital Libraries responded, appears to have remained far from acceptance.
Storage Mediums Employed S. No. Storage No % Medium 1 Tapes 07 13.7 2 Hard 12 23.5 discs 3 CDs/DV 15 29.4 Ds 4 WWW 12 23.5 5 Other 05 9.8 MediumTotal 51 100
Services Provided 52% (13) digital libraries provide content creation service; 76% (19) digital libraries provide online service which is found to be the most preferred and extensively used service; 68% (17) digital libraries provide OPAC services; 72% (18) digital libraries provide downloading service; 68% (17) digital provide printing services; and 32% (6) digital libraries have the provision of FAQ.
Membership Punjabi University, Chandigarh records the highest number of 14,000 student members, while IIT- Mumbai Digital Library has the highest number (1100) of research scholars on its membership roll. Students constitute the largest population in (16)64%) out of 25 libraries surveyed; Faculty remain visible in 15 libraries; Scholars are members in 12 libraries; and Scientists are found to be visible in membership roll only in 6 digital libraries which is quite disappointing;
Infrastructure Infrastructure in the Digital Libraries included in the investigation remain far from satisfaction; Almost all the Digital Libraries have PCs which is the basic requirement for any library to initiate digitization; The study reveals that, 76% of Digital Libraries have CD writers; and 16(64%) Digital Libraries each have Flat Scanners, Servers for storage, and Back-up Servers respectively which is not so encouraging.
Budgetary Provisions 80% (20) of the libraries surveyed have their own budget, meaning they meet their Digital Libraries expenses from their own sources; 24% (6) of the libraries are funded by some external agencies for their respective Digital Libraries; 20% (4) of the libraries are having their own budget and also revieve external funding; 8% (2) out of 25 libraries surveyed revealed that, they have a budget earmarked exclusively for Digital Libraries purpose, which seems to be insignificant; and IGNCA, Delhi and IIM-Indore avail the highest amount of Rs.20 crores in their library budget, while Gulbarga University reported to have the lowest annual allocated budget worth Rs.1.5 lakhs.
Model Source of Service Model Source of Service 8 0 7 0 6 0 5 0•Internet is found to be the %4 0most effective and popularsource of service of Digital 3Libraries in 80% of the 0libraries surveyed; 2 0•Intranet and CD/DVD ROMsconstituting 72% each; and 1 0•The other sources of 0service constitute only Internet Intranet CD/DVDs Others8%, hence, quiteinsignificant.
Restrictions on Library Services 60% (15) of the surveyed libraries impose restrictions on services of some kind or the other; 40% (10) of the total libraries surveyed, the restriction on service does not exist; 52% (13) libraries restrict their services to the members of their respective parent institutions; and 32% (8) libraries restrict their services to the paid members.
Internet Service Providers Categories of ISP Commercial Volunteer•52% (13) of the digital Ownlibraries have theprovision of commercialISPs;•16% (4) of the totallibraries have their ownISPs; and•The volunteer ISP isnoticed with only 1 DigitalLibrary which is quite 555insignificant.
Digital Library Projects 20% (5) of the Digital Libraries claim to have complete their Digital Library projects with them; 32% (8) libraries have hybrid projects; 24% (6) Digital Libraries claim to set up their institutional repositories; 16% (4) anticipate a possible separation of digital libraries in future; and; 84% (210 libraries have no plan for separation’
Collaboration in Digital Libraries 60 % (15) of the libraries have their collaboration with other libraries, out of which 12% (3) libraries each have entered into financial and technical collaboration they entered with other libraries; and Only 24% (6) of the libraries have entered into digital library consortia which is quite disappointing
Improvement of Existing Services• 92% of the respondents feel systematic creation and organization of digital libraries would help to provide cost effective and more qualitative services;• 84% respondents have agreed that, digital libraries are more helpful and economically viable for the masses in the days ahead;• 76% of the total respondents reveal that, contents are accessed more compared to their print equipments as collaborated with the high X2 significance.• Interestingly, paucity of fund (64%) and absence of any scientific and standardized policy (56%) are the other factors that hinder the growth and development of digital ibraries in India.
Findings on Model Digital Library The findings suggest that, there is no one single model of digital library that alone can provide better example, but alternate models of digital libraries could be evolved or adapted to, borrowing from the experiences also; It has also been felt that, it is critical to have a national vision or plan that manifests itself as a sound policy that would direct all initiatives towards interoperability. This is especially crucial as the world of metadata standards or software applications is also constantly evolving and is subject to obsolescence; and The role of consortia and collaboration in the country is perceived to be very influential in terms of converging nation-wide efforts to build interoperable as well as cost-effective systems.
Testing of the Hypotheses Hypothesis 1 that “The current strength and status of digital libraries in India are not so encouraging as the progress of their establishment is made extremely at a low pace” is proved hollow; Hypothesis 2 that, “Absence of scientific and standardized policy for balanced growth and qualitative service lack of competent manpower and professional will, coupled with paucity of funds perhaps are the key forces that prevent the real growth and development of digital libraries in India” comes true; Hypothesis 3 that, “The current digital library services and the on-going projects on digital libraries are perhaps the monopolies of a few large scientific and special libraries in India” has also come true; Hypothesis 4 that, “The digital libraries are more helpful and economically viable in future for the masses” comes true; Hypothesis 5 that, “The services and activities of most of the existing digital libraries in India are currently limited to a few specific service domains”, is partially true; and Hypothesis 6 that, “The systematically created and organized digital libraries can provide cost-effective and qualitative services to the clientele so as to facilitate resource sharing and contribute to the scientific growth and development of the society” appears true.
Key Suggestions The National Library of India at Kolkata should go for a more comprehensive full proof Digital Library Project to digitize its entire resources and services including its collection in phased manner with the target to complete the digitization work in a stipulated time frame, say five years; All State Governments should make comprehensive legislations to ensure appropriate and hurdle-free funding and manpower support sp as to make their respective public libraries to go digital in the coming five years; The domain digitization should not be restricted to one or two service areas, it should have a wide spectrum of applications, ranging from content creation to online access. The UGC should make stringent rules to compel all the Academic Libraries duly funded by it to make their libraries fully digitized; Allocation of fund for Digitization should be segregated from all other heads and be made separate exclusively for digital library initiatives; The parent institution and/or the funding agencies should ensure that the entire spectrum of digital library services are made open to their users; The BSNL, the key ISP player in the country should improve its internet service, its bandwidth quality, reduce its cost and should go for hi-end technology; and All the large scientific and R & D Libraries and Libraries of IITs, IIMs, and Universities should have their institutional repositories.
Key Suggestions Continued The parent institution and/or the Funding Agencies should insist that the Digital Libraries should go for more technical collaboration with those Libraries or Agencies having State of the Art technologies; The policy makers should take into account of the standardization requirements, inter-operability, copyright issues, classification of documents and selection and use of number of library information systems available with various organizations in the country in different standards; A consortium of digital libraries will help librarians, users, vendors, and publishers tremendously, saving not only money but also efforts and time. The audience should work in close collaboration to ensure introduction of Natural Interfaces to the Digital Libraries world over. A Knowledge Management Grid with a Central Digital Library equipped with the comprehensive Virtual Digital Library and Knowledge Management System is needed; Software in all the Indian languages is needed for language independent operating system, database servers, search engines, web servers and messaging servers; and Digitization and information flow has to go parallel to get the real advantage of e-governance workflow in the land records and its management domain.
Areas for Further Study The future researchers should cover more Digital Libraries which are technically stable with State-of-the-Art technique not only in India, but also in other developing countries; With the number of Digital Library initiatives increasing very fast, their organization and accessing information from these digital libraries has given rise to research issues like indexing and retrieval, multilingual and multimedia information processing, natural language processing and many others. A better understanding of these issues, along with an awareness of state-of-the-art tools and technologies involved in digital libraries has become a compelling need of the day and a pertinent area of future research; The first phase of research on digital libraries is mainly focused on print media and its transformation into digital form. The knowledge created in the past is mostly available on palm leaves and metal plates and they use a large number of alphabets which are no longer in use. The technological needs to decipher such documents are more complex than that needed for the print media. There is an urgent need of designing OCRs to decipher the antiquity which is not an easy job. The future research on digital libraries should address such issues; and India has been culturally a rich country where various forms of fine arts have been promoted and attained heights. Such heritage has not been preserved for the posterity due to the lack of resources and their complex nature. Now, with the availability of recording techniques for music, paintings, dance and drama etc, one of the main activities should be to digitize these forms. Therefore, further research on digital libraries should give due emphasis to this issue.
ConclusionThere is an amazing penetration of scholarly digital information through avariety of forms and formats, standards and platforms, in which documentsare published. It is necessary to have access and uninterrupted servicesoffered by the information system, no matter what kind of format and platformin which these information rests, whether sourced from internal repositoriesor from outside. The future libraries will consist of books, bytes and buildings.Whether information comes in the form of print onpaper, microfiche, streaming video, or digital text, the library will continue tocollect mankinds intellectual, scientific and artistic achievements, and therecord of humanitys triumphs and failures. The focus will be on centralizationof resources in digital form and on-line delivery of information to the users’desktop. In India for growth and survival of the digital libraries, there is acompelling need to consider the economic, legal and social aspects ofinformation, its creators and users