Friday, March 02, 2007

Libraries' future ``lies in media convergence''

Presentation by Rafael Ball from Central Library Research Centre, Germany

CHENNAI : Imagine sitting in a roomy, well-lit reading room, browsing both print and e-journals while sipping coffee. The future of libraries, according to Rafael Ball from Central Library Research Centre in Germany, is in providing more value-added services to customers.

Convergence of media is the key, Mr. Ball told a group of academics and students of information science at Madras University on Monday.

A library should be able to provide a mix of both print and electronic media information. The processing should be flexible and access decentralised, he said in his presentation, `Innovative Services of a Special Library.'

Need for convergence arose from the fact that while the quantity of scientific journals went up, library budgets stagnated. In order to arrest the loss of quality of library holdings, there is need to subscribe to the increasingly available e-media, he said.

Mr. Ball presented the Central Library Research Centre in Julich as a case study.

A majority of the centre's holdings consist of information in the electronic format. The transition to `E-only' was a slow process, said Mr. Ball. It involved convincing the staff of advantages, and informing heads of educational institutions about lists of titles and the transition road map.

The impact of having more electronic content means a bigger infrastructure budget, higher subscription charges, holding extensive training programmes for employees and setting in place pucca license agreements.

According to Mr. Ball, funding by universities was necessary to have a modern, innovative library, which takes into account the needs of customers.

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