Archive for the ‘Libraries’ Category

If you imagine, how the library of the future should look like, watch this video, which showcases, the James B. Hunt, Jr. Library at NC State University.

“We’ve built an inspiring library where North Carolina’s thinkers, dreamers and doers can come together to seek solutions to the grand challenges facing this world. The Hunt Library offers spaces custom-built for collaboration across any distance. We’ve equipped it with cutting-edge tools to make concepts concrete. We’ve invested in immersive, large-scale visualization technology to create canvases that measure up to your ambition.” (Excerpt from Source: http://www.ncsu.edu/huntlibrary/watch/)


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Illustration by Tejas

MOOCs a popular abbreviation for ‘Massive Open Online Courses’ being heard everywhere, especially from 2012. The year 2012 was termed as “The year of the MOOC‘ by The New York Times. It shows the popularity of this new medium of online education offered by prestigious universities of the world for free to the masses. The people in hordes irrespective of their age, educational background and geographical area are joining for these courses. The enrollment for these courses across disciplines is huge beyond the imagination of anyone. This new invention has brought in a world class education to the door steps of many, who even would not have dreamt of getting educated from universities like Harvard, Princeton, MIT etc. In spite of their shortcomings as compared to the advantages of face to face education offered in physical campuses they have been widely embraced by the people all across the world. The key players offering these courses include coursera, edx, udacity, futurelearn and many more.

The impact of this new breed of education has been seen across the disciplines, universities, departments and colleges. The field of Library and Information Science (LIS) is no exception to this development. Libraries now have to brace this new medium of education and resolve challenges it has posed in providing services to unlimited number of students. The biggest challenge for libraries is how to cater to the needs of such a widespread and diversified student base with limited number of resources. Next the big question is how to convince the publishers in extending access to resources to these off campus students. To brainstorm librarians about the consequences of MOOCs on libraries, OCLC conducted a workshop in 2013 on ‘MOOCs and Libraries‘ to throw light on many of the issues libraries may face as a result of this new medium of education. This event, I think brought in some amount of clarity regarding the issues libraries are expected face.  Taking a cue from this workshop and few other studies on this topic, I wrote a chapter along with other colleagues for a felicitation volume entitled ‘Library as a Change Agent in Liberation and Deliberation of Higher Education through MOOCs‘ to highlight the issues libraries need to gear for to effectively deal with this new breed of online education.

In regard to LIS education, I feel this new phenomena more than challenges it has brought in opportunities in strengthening the course curriculum across the schools. In the developing world, schools of LIS invariably face several challenges, one among these is the acute shortage of teaching faculty to teach various subjects. I think here MOOCs can play an important role by bringing in collaboration in building the courses on subjects mutually beneficial to schools. Secondly, schools may use some of the courses already available online from different universities in the respective subjects to augment learning skills of students by encouraging them to enroll for such courses and providing discussion on the topic in a flipped classroom environment. Some of the courses presently available in LIS include, MetadataThe Emerging Future,  Copyright for Educators & Librarians, etc. Some of these courses apart from students may also help working librarians in updating their skills. To inform professional colleagues about this new form of education and highlight some of the areas of collaboration, I along with a professional colleague wrote a paper on ‘MOOCs and LIS-Education: A massive opportunity or challenge‘ for a journal ‘Annals of Library and Information Studies‘.   

It is very true that, MOOCs can not meet up to the merits of physical classroom education, but they can certainly make a good value addition by bringing in a variety and enabling learners across geographic regions to learn with no age bar and at no cost. Libraries need to put in extra efforts in meeting needs of such learners by offering facilities such as computers, Internet connection and providing links to free and open access resources. They also can make use of MOOCs to build information literacy courses for the effective use of digital sea of information. Similarly, LIS schools themselves or in collaboration may initiate steps to use this medium to offer few courses using platforms such as coursesites and canvas network

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Does information has any connection to food? J.P. Rangaswami in his TED talk muses on our relationship to information and food.

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QR Code for my BlogQR (quick response) Codes, are two dimensional barcodes which when scanned using mobile phones having camera (some phones may require installation of a QR reader application software) enables one to access some pre-written content such as a website address, email address, details of items in the catalogue, phone numbers etc. They are capable of storing much more information than that of conventional barcodes.

Libraries, I think are best placed to introduce these codes to enable patrons to get quick access to the information when they are on the move. The library information such as details of items in the catalogue, links to library URL address, e-mail address, tutorials, brochures etc. can be linked using these codes.  In the west, some of the libraries are using these codes for linking URL addresses, catalogue records, signage etc.  For example University of Bath library in UK is using these codes in the catalogue to enable library users to scan and transfer information about a book directly to their mobiles to save patrons from keying or noting the details. Other uses of QR codes made in libraries can be seen on a Library Success wiki.

ImageThe use of QR Codes in libraries even though looks simple, but requires libraries to make their website compatible to mobile phones or have different version for mobiles. Looking at the high penetration rate of mobile phones and their greater usage among the new generation of people, I think it is sensible to introduce these codes for disseminating library related information.

Apart from libraries, these codes, may also be used for other purposes such as on business cards, power point presentations etc. The generation of QR code is simple. It can be developed either by using any free QR generation application software or online tools such as Goqr.me.   For power point presentations and documents, further help is available from tagmydoc.

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Richard Watson the author of Future Minds: How the Digital Age is Changing Our Minds, Why this Matters and What We Can Do About It,  examines how digital culture is changing the way we think today, and how it will shape our future. His views on libraries are also worth going through.

So all in digital age may not end well, we need to keep faith in our old forms of learning.



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I came across an article ‘Embedded librarianship in the research context:
Navigating new waters
‘ in the recent issue of ‘College and Research Libraries‘.  As discussed in the paper ‘Embedded librarianship takes a librarian out of the context of the traditional library and places him or her in an “on-site” setting or situation that enables close coordination and collaboration with researchers or teaching faculty.’  It may further enable librarians in the research environment to collaborate with the faculty members or researchers and be integral part of research teams in undertaking projects.

The model of embedded librarianship is already being applied in information literacy programs as a means to overcome the limitations of the  one-time
library orientation class. However, this is happening more in the West than in developing countries like India.  The article also provides list of advices for the embedded librarian for successful implementation of this model.

I think it is a time for us to think in this direction and make our researchers and organizations aware of value of libraries and librarians in meeting the goals of the organization.

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