By Hutchinson, Barbara
Information Outlook , Vol. 3, No. 6
In February 1999, I worked as a consultant for the Tamil Nadu Veterinary and Animal Sciences University (TANUVAS) in Madras, India (or Chennai, as it is now called). This opportunity was made possible through the Agricultural Human Resources Development Project (AHRDP), a five-year World Bank-funded project involving agricultural universities in three states. The project was designed to supplement the efforts of the central and state governments of India to improve the competence and efficiency of the state agricultural education system and its field-level services for the ultimate purpose of achieving better production. A key component in this plan was the development of a modern library and information system to support educational and research efforts. Through contacts made while serving as a consultant to the initial planning effort five years ago (which took me on a whirlwind tour of both northern and southern India), I was asked to return to the state of Tamil Nadu to conduct a more in-depth evaluation of their state university library system. Specific objectives for my consultancy were to conduct a detailed study of the university library in terms of collection development, adequacy of trained staffpower, and appropriateness of library operations; prescribe appropriate strategies for improving the efficiency of the library system; and address future plans and directions for the next two decades, in view of the global trend in information technology.
My work was centered at the Madras Veterinary college (MVC) Library, the major library facility in the TANUVAS University system. During the three weeks of my consultancy, I conducted extensive interviews with the library staff and faculty members, as well as with computer programmers and an architectural design team. The resulting report included two major sections. The first provided an analysis of library operations in terms of strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats in the categories: facilities, staffing, professional development, technical services, automation, equipment and telecommunications, services, management, budgeting, and networking. The second section outlined recommendations for library improvements that would increase access to and use of information technologies both for providing better service and for more efficient technical operations. Also addressed were administrative policies and plans for developing the library as a national resource for the biological sciences. …