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Libraries central to society: Kalpana Dasgupta

By Correspondent

SILCHAR, Feb 1 � Success, in the present-day world depends very much on the quantum of digitisation. But we must also realise that everything cannot be digitised or kept in the virtual space. Readers and library users must be convinced of the physicality of the libraries and the accessibility too has to be hybrid in nature. Traditional librarians have to take a leap forward and become knowledge workers, said Kalpana Dasgupta, the advisory board member, Rural Education and Development, Read India and also a technical advisor to the Government of India.

While delivering the key note address on �What�s Next in Libraries? Trends Space and Partnerships� in the international conference on the same topic which began at the NIT Silchar recently, Dasgupta said that present-day India is looking for answers as to where and how the change will come from. She added to say that the National Knowledge Commission was the first step towards the Knowledge society where the world is heading to in the current scenario. The Commission, she says focused on certain key areas such as to enhance access to knowledge, creation of the right environment of knowledge for achieving sustained growth as well as holistic development much needed for a knowledge society. �In the process of creation of knowledge society, libraries occupy the central position as no knowledge society can exist without libraries,� Dasgupta said.

Citing references of Tagore and Ranganathan who opposed and challenged the collection- oriented approach of the library system, Dasgupta said that it is the libraries which re-circulate knowledge. She stressed that libraries in India must look into what is beyond access and focus on knowledge creation beyond the accessibility of knowledge, which she firmly believes will be the trend for the next generation. She also stressed upon the need for partnership and coming together of libraries from cross section of organisations for bringing the distant learners to reading spaces.

In his address, Prof NV Deshpande, director NIT Silchar gave an account of how the concept of building a world class library system began a year ago. He said that the four areas which NIT Silchar was eager to bring in for its students included students� counselling, training and research facilities, man-machine ratio usage and blue waters i.e., high performance computing. He said that keeping pace with technology and to create a vibrant and sustainable library ecosystem in the upcoming new central library, the NIT Silchar has signed an MoU with the Mortension Centre, University of Illinois. �It is time we must think and act upon ways to satisfy the customers. Also thrust has to be on research activities as actual research begins after attaining the PhD�, the director said. �The outcome of the conference will create a roadmap for the setting up of new libraries and strategies required to create a flexible and attractive library space and development of partnerships that will augment the vision of libraries,� Prof Deshpande said.

Both Paula Kaufman, professor and interim director at Mortension Centre, University of Illinois, USA and Susan Schnuer, associate director Mortension Centre, expressed happiness on being associated with NIT Silchar saying that the University of Illinois is looking forward to carry this association as an opportunity for mutual exchange of ideas and become a joint force to combat the challenges faced by the libraries today. Prof FA Talukdar, who delivered the welcome address, said that the conference will provide a common platform for the librarians, information specialists and all those engaged in the process of knowledge creation and dissemination to discuss the major issues concerning library development. Dr KC Sathpathy, in his vote of thanks said main objective behind organising the conference is to provide a stage for the exchange of knowledge and showcasing the best practices of future libraries.

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