Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Collection Librarians in India

Washechek, Evan

Giri, R. r., Sen, B. b., & Mahesh, G. g. (2015). Collection Development in Indian Academic Libraries: An Empirical Approach to Determine the Number of Copies for Acquisition. DESIDOC Journal Of Library & Information Technology35(3), 184-192.

This week I came across this fascinating article discussing the different perception that exists in academic libraries in India. According to the article, there have been lots of private academic institutions that a recent flux of cash has propped up in the past decade. Of these Universities, lots of which have well-funded libraries. However the author writes that Librarians are often overstretched and understaffed. This is in addition to the fact that Collections are merely thought of as a sum total of the items that exist within the library. This is coupled with the tradition in Indian Campuses to have a much more top down hierarchy and most of the heads of departments selecting the materials for professors in the field and them in turn telling the libraries which books they will be using for their courses. The author notes the specific struggle by stating, “Unlike the academic libraries in the western world, Indian academic libraries hardly have subject specialist librarians. Thus, there is a lack of library staff that can be spared to liaise constantly with faculties and students to understand their needs and expectations and contribute significantly to collection development.” Not only are there not very many subject specialists, but because of the increased work load on the collections librarians our author denotes a particular struggle that I believe most western libraries can identify with, “In many a case, the acquisition department/ librarian has a weak tie with circulation /lending/reference sections that are in the best position to understand the students /faculty demands.”

Although the academic library system in India is very robust and complicated as well as difficult to discuss in one article (or one summary), there certainly were parallels which I was able to draw between them and the western world in which I have library experience. Lack of funding for materials, staff or other necessities is a constant, as well as lack of communications interdepartmentally. It also seems that although the solutions put forth in this article were cohesive (attempting to increase the book to student ratio). Their problems of providing the book for students are unique, because in the U.S. for the most part we have a culture of capitalism which encourages students to purchase all of their required texts. This solution would be viewed as a waste of University money and destruction of the cash cow that is college books.

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