In digital era, libraries turn tech-savvy
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When all information is available in an inch-thick mobile phone and news can be accessed with the click of a button, it looked like the humongous libraries could soon get converted into museums. On the contrary, the library has re-invented itself to keep pace with the times.
"Today's library is not just a storehouse of information. In fact, it has no wall," D Ramesh Gaur, librarian in Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU), said.
Like in the past, people still spend hours poring over books to extract nuggets of information in libraries. The number of transactions in Jamia Library of Jamia Millia Islamia has recorded a 58 per cent increase since 2003, while the membership of Delhi Public Library has gone up from approximately 35,000 in 2007 to 75,000 in 2012.
Explaining how libraries have managed to stay on course on the fast-moving information highway, several library officials said technology has helped these age-old institutions extend their reach through online journals, digitised archives and e-books.
These range from JSTOR, a popular online service supplying journals to students and institutions worldwide, to Manopatra Online, a database for law students.
Delhi University Library spends around Rs 3 crore annually on electronic databases of journals, a sum "impossible for students to pay", one of its officials said.
Jamia Library has rapidly increased the subscription of online journals from roughly 2,000 to 6,200 over the past six years.
The process is more vigorous in digitisation of books, theses and primary material (manuscripts).
JNU Library, for instance, is on the verge of digitising around 8,000 theses and 3,000 rare books, while Delhi Public Library plans to digitise its precious gramophone records.
The past decade has seen an explosion of electronic cataloguing for the city's biggest libraries. JNU Library has done away with the time-consuming method of manually searching for books. It has electronically indexed more that 6,00,000 books and periodicals ó which can now be located in seconds. Delhi University Library, too, is almost through with the process.
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