Reengineering libraries of today for tomorrow: special reference to Essay

Reengineering libraries of today for tomorrow: special reference to

Shreemati Nathibhai Damodar Thakersay Women’s University

BharatRatna Maharshi Karve Knowledge Resource Centre, Juhu Branch

Ms. Vrushali Rane

Dy. Librarian

SNDT University, Juhu Campus

Abstract

The present article is discussing various library facilities, library services and the strategies developed to face actual challenges at SNDT Women’s University Library which is now called as Bharatna Maharshi Karve Knowledge Resource Centre of Juhu Branch. The 50 year old library has developed steadily not only in providing rich resources to its users but also in terms of providing technology based services and good infrastructure. All the transformation was done with the help of dedicated staff with no cost or in limited budget of the library. While the library moved on facing the new challenges, tacit knowledge about various aspects is shared in this paper for other libraries to use. It will help libraries right from the planning stage to organising, coordinating to budgeting. The experiences shared in this paper will help libraries successfully achieve the task discussed. There are six issues discussed viz; user survey on collection & services, technology user survey, signages, sms service, six sigma and discovery services for which references are available in bibliography to locate the article to understand the strategies & outcome in depth. Rest of the paper is completely based on practical experience so the bibliography given at the end is only a means of further reading.

Introduction

The SNDT Women’s University Branch Library of Juhu has developed over the years from a print library to an online library. Juhu library had good facility and number of services but many more user oriented were required to be looked at. Also quite a challenge was to complete a few long overdue jobs. Services which were hassle free were implemented on immediate basis while few services & facilities required approvals and provision of budget. The library was closed access. It was made open access after consultation with the University Librarian as it was found to be more feasible looking at the student category. Students were keen on browsing the books by themselves on shelves rather than someone else pick up the book for them. The main reason for this could be to get a look at the more related books of their subject. Also after looking at the content students would find more useful material than what one might get from the book they asked for in closed access. The important point that each library should inform their student is that the books should be searched systematically using the web catalogue, books should not be wrongly shelved as a book mis-shelved is as good as a book lost. Students should not restrict their search to the books that are seen right in front of them or which comes straight in the eye contact. A user survey was floated to understand user requirement in connection to the collection, facilities and services. The results were satisfactory and suggestions made were implemented.

Another very useful service was Table of Content (TOC) and Info Alert service. These services are based on the individual interest of the faculty. The table of content of the newly arrived core journals and magazines is scanned and is send to faculty by e-mail. The article they find useful and wish to read is send to them or they visit library to access the full article. Info alert is similar to Selective dissemination of Information (SDI) wherein user profile and document profile are matched by the library to provide interesting reads to the faculty. With these services users remain updated in their field of work.

Along with the rich print resources, library had fair number of online resources but the usage was low. A technology survey was carried out to understand the need of users better. It was found that there was less awareness among them about the online resources. Besides the regular orientation programmes at the beginning of year and during the year, a detailed information literacy programme were being organised. These trainings helped the user to understand the database better and use it well for their course and other research related work. A computer lab was developed to provide students in-house facility for use of online resources. Reference desk was bought right at the entrance with a board ‘may I help you’. This facility was another motivation for students to use the database as there was always a reference librarian to help them during their search. It resulted in increase of database usage. Having reference librarian at the entrance of the library helped in right navigation of the users to the information they were looking for. Several signages were implemented all over the library to help users navigate easily through the library even if there is no person physically available to guide.

Way2sms service was introduced to send short messages to students on mobile. Technology survey revealed that students prefer everything on mobile and via e-mails. Changes with respect to their demand were made. SMS related to books overdue, fine payment, library notice, new resources, facility & services are sent. Students feedback is huge as the message flash on their mobiles on which they can act immediately.

A 3 day annual festival Granthotsav was organised in order to cultivate reading habits among students. There were games, quizzes, competitions, book exhibition where students, faculty and other users participated to win exciting prizes. A talk was also arranged by a well known speaker who is a non librarian for all library users and another talk by professional librarian for library professionals.

These services immediately gain visibility to the library. There were few facilities, services or long overdue jobs that needed planning and monitoring during implementation. It has been discussed here in the form of case studies.

Case 1 – Unclassified books

There were several books unclassified. Because of which these books though newly recommended and purchased were not on shelf for users to use or borrow. Unlike journals books do not contain current information. Thus it becomes all the more necessary to place these books for circulation immediately on arrival. The aim of this project was to place close to 8000 books on shelf. After analysing the whole situation, it was decided to sort the books by subjects for quick classification. Authority list was in place, but it had to be modified a bit as per the present need. The various phases of DMAIC six sigma processes were applied. The project was defined, measured, analysed, improved as per changes and controlled to get the final result. The whole project went systematically to get accurate and speedy results.

Case 2 – Stock Verification

Stock Verification for any library whether small or big is a huge challenge. Juhu library conducted stock verification every year but of a particular subject / class. Full stock verification was never done. After 50 years of library existence, library took up the challenge of full stock verification. A thorough planning was required as approximately 83500 books were to be checked.

It was decided not to conduct stock verification in library management software SLIM as there were many minor issues to be tackled. Like error in the initial data entry of books, not all books were entered in the software, wrong entries of books, duplication of numbers as books from Churchgate campus and study centres were shifted to Juhu library when the departments shifted etc.

We had only 15 days to complete the stock with limited staff and resources. Barcode scanners were hired on rent. Groups were made of one professional staff with one peon. Stacks were equally divided among all the groups. Library was closed for borrowing. However return of books was acceptable as not all users were able to return the books in time for stock checking.

The computers with barcode scanner were kept in respective stack with the groups. Books were systematically brought by the peons from the shelf to the table where professional staff was scanning the accession number of the book present on the barcode label. The accession numbers were scanned in an excel sheet only in Row A one below the other. This helped in merging the files present on computers of groups of all the staff.

All problematic books required checking in the accession register or were kept aside for some other reason after registering the accession number.

After all the books were scanned, files of all the groups were merged one after other in the same row i.e. Row A. During this process duplicate accession numbers were found, which were removed after again checking at different records.

Besides the books on shelf, all other categories accession numbers were also recorded like weeded books, lost books, issued books to students, faculty etc, books transferred, if any etc.

The final report showed the total count of books on shelf and all the other categories. This total was subtracted from the total books accessioned in the library to get missing books number. The loss was well within the UGC norms (3 books per 1000 books circulated) and was acceptable by the Library Committee.

Case 3 - Knimbus

The students unless told by faculty to use a particular library resource will never use library, they prefer use of Google. Also with increasing online resources and change of subscribed resources due to budget constraint, library opted for Knimbus a discovery tool. It provide users one point search platform to search across all the subscribed resources, open access resources, online public access catalogue and institutional repository. Knimbus platform is accessible to students from anywhere with their registered user name and password. It is necessary for users to understand the importance of discovery services in their academics and use these resources. Knimbus or any other discovery tool give direction to users and give libraries a way to draw user attention to its rich resources.

Case 4 – Renovation & shifting

Library had to undergo major civil work of only ground floor urgently as funds obtained from RUSA need to be utilized in limited time period. For this library had to shift to a new place on campus which was on the fifth floor of engineering college. The transition period was of seven months. It was a big challenge to shift the whole library that too on fifth floor. The library team did brainstorming for few days and finally were ready with the strategy on how to go about the same. The task was shifting of books and journals. It was decided to shift limited resources only that was most required by users. Initially all the stacks and its shelves were coded. All the racks were coded horizontally from A to G and each shelf vertically from 1 to 7. Thus rack number one was 1.A.1 to 1.A.7 ; 1.B.1 to 1.B.7 and so on. The books were tied up with a tag of same code of its shelf. With this even if all the bundles were mixed up, it was easy to identify their original place because of the tag on the bundle and same code on the shelf. Unused books, fiction section, areas which were rarely used were shifted to first floor of library. Bound volumes, reference books were untouched as they were not shifted and were housed on the first floor itself. Rest of the books and current journals were shifted. Besides books and journals, circulation counter, reading table & chairs, acquisition & technical department, periodicals department, office & its cupboards with file, computers, printers, photocopying machine etc were also part of shifting.

The shifting process involved initially carrying books, journals, table, chairs and other material up till tempo in a big trolley and from tempo to the room on ground floor of the engineering college building. After all the stacks were empty, they were shifted first and placed in the big hall. There was a pulley tied to carry everything on fifth floor. However few items were carried by stairs.

The shifting process was done by the contractor’s labour. It took one and half month for the library to reopen. The other important factors required in place were internet connection, new IPs for use of online resources, purchase of mobile for library use, electrical wiring, etc. Today the civil work is going on and like in other cases after successfully completion of work and shifting back, a detail article will be written for use of others. Hope we get more funds and have compactors to store books & bound volumes.

Conclusion

Any challenge can be conveniently overcome and handled smoothly with the principles of management given by Luther Gulick and Lyndall Urwick acronym as POSDCORB - Planning, Organising, Staffing, Directing, Coordinating, Reporting and Budgeting. Though as old as 1937, it is effective even today. These elements were kept in mind and were followed at every step to ensure successful results.

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