Need for Resource Sharing and Networking of Libraries
by Ashraf Tanvir, Director Scientific Information, NARC Islamabad
Published in "The News" Rawalpindi / Islamabad, Lahore and Karachi on April 11, 2005
Pakistan Agricultural Research Council (PARC) has organised a five-day
National Workshop on Resource Sharing and Networking of Libraries and
Documentation Centres at National Agricultural Research Centre (NARC), Islamabad
from 11-15 April 2005. The objectives of the workshop are:
Creation of awareness among librarians and documentalists for realization of the need for resource sharing and networking.
Improve the access and exchange of information available in different libraries.
Explore various options for application of Information Technology in
networking of libraries.
Explosion in published output, increase in bibliographic access of literature through internet and off-line databases on CDs, static and in many cases decreasing library budgets along with high cost of published output have made it virtually impossible for libraries and documentation/ information centres to fulfill information needs of their primary clientele. Under such squeezing situation the best option left with the libraries is to optimize the output and utilize their resources through extensive sharing.
However, it has been observed with regret that the concept of resource sharing is generally missing among libraries in Pakistan. Most of the libraries are working on the policy of “self-sufficiency”. In some instances it has been found that two academic and research libraries located at a distance of 5-15 minuets walking distance are spending substantial amounts from their budget on the subscription of same journals and procurement of same books, whereas they can easily share their resources with each other. Therefore, there is a need to motivate librarians and information professionals for resource sharing and networking of libraries to ensure optimum utilization of available financial, physical and manpower resources.
The national workshop on resource sharing and networking of libraries and documentation centres will be attended by more than 60 participants from all the four provinces, AJK and federal capital, Islamabad. Librarians, documentalists and information professionals will be presenting some 30 papers during the workshop on various aspects of resource sharing and networking through various applications of Information Technology including Internet based decentralized databases using web-based software.
ARC-the predecessor of PARC had realized the need to cater to the research information needs of Pakistani agricultural research scientists back in 1973 when a Documentation Centre was established under the USAID funded project. It was elevated/ upgraded in 1977 to the level of a Directorate of Scientific Information, which focuses on two major clientele (a) research scientists, managers, policy makers, planners and progressive farmers (b) provide needful support to provincial libraries, documentation and information centres on acquisition, adoption and training for practical application of latest information tools and techniques to keep pace with other information centres of the world. PARC since its inception in 1978 has followed a sustained policy of sharing of information, ideas, technologies and a strong program in human resource development to meet the current and future needs of the country in agricultural research sector.
Scientific and research based information has a significant contribution for rapid promotion of research, education and development of various other sectors of the economy. It saves a lot of human effort, financial input as well as application of physical and logistic resources otherwise needed to re-invent the wheel every time. It provides vital technical support to keep going on all the scientific endeavours. Sharing of research information through decentralized Internet data input has a significance of its own. It is both economical and time saving not only for users but also for the information professionals and documentalists. For the cause of economy information data is prepared, entered, processed, stored and retrieved at a very high speed. Therefore its utility is many times higher than the conventional means of information sharing.
Success in exploration of new means of resource sharing can help overcome
the financial constraints faced by most of our libraries and information centres.
In this age of Information Technology we can go for new concepts and ideas which
will ultimately open new vistas of knowledge to our scientists, researchers,
policy makers, planners, faculty members and students. The ongoing process of
digitization of libraries would ultimately reduce our dependence on libraries in
the form of physical presence during particular timings or working hours and the
users will be able to search and visit the library with the help of log-in and
password at a nominal cost.
Most of the libraries in Pakistan have yet to computerize their
catalogues to provide online access to the users. For resource sharing and
networking some new concepts have emerged over the past few years. The
participants will look into them during the deliberations of the national
workshop. They have the potential to evolve a mechanism for successful resource
sharing and networking for the common good of all the people in this country who
have a passion for knowledge.
The government has launched under its Public Sector Development
Programme-PSDP a very useful plan to strengthen and upgrade six libraries into
national libraries in the respective disciplines under the aegis of HEC. The
NARC Library is also being upgraded into National Library of Agricultural
Sciences at a cost of more than Rs. 28 million during 2003-2006. By this gesture
of the government, scientific and research libraries, particularly those
established for specialized disciplines are being strengthened. However, there
is a long way to go in this area to provide a variety of services to the
PARC established an independent Scientific Information set-up at NARC right with the establishment of this Centre of excellence in 1984, as one of its vital components along with basic and applied research infrastructure and research programmes. The Directorate of Scientific Information started use of computers in location, collection, processing, package making and dissemination of agricultural research information in the beginning of 1980s. The Documentation Centre established at PARC in 1973 was declared National Liaison Office for AGRIS Database of FAO in 1976, and it was the first centre which dispatched the computerized research information to FAO from the South Asia region.
PARC information professionals and scientists have developed
which are available on website. It is engaged in two-way sharing of research
information with 154 countries of the world through various databases available
on Internet and CDs. PARC Website is the largest one on agricultural research in
Pakistan with more than 400 pages having an ever expanding Urdu section.
The Directorate of Scientific Information has also established online
searching of international research journals facility on a network of 15
computers which will be opened for the scientists, researchers and university
students from 11th April 2005, on the eve of inauguration of the
national workshop on resource sharing and networking of documentation centres.
This is the most modern facility established in collaboration with Higher
Education Commission to provide online access to the scientists and researchers.
Thousands of full text and “abstract only” research journals can be accessed
through this facility.
A comprehensive strategy will be evolved based on the recommendations of the national workshop to create a conducive environment for resource sharing and networking of libraries and documentation/ information centres to get maximum out of the investment being made into these set-ups throughout Pakistan.