Role of Librarian in Internet and World Wide Web Environment

Article excerpt

Introduction

Traditionally librarian is known as a person located in the library building carrying out the tasks like acquiring, organizing, preserving the printed documents besides helping the readers in locating the information needed by them. In the last decades of the twentieth century this picture has rapidly changed under the influence of advances in computer and communication fields. The paper collections have given place to networked, computer resident, user searchable collections like bibliographic databases, Online Public Access Catalogues (OPAC) obliterating the need for the user to visit the library building. With the digitization of ever increasing number of collections and advances made in computer/communication hardware and software seamless access to digitized information located in geographically diverse locations has become a reality. The walls of library are thus pulled down and a "Virtual Library" in Cyber Space came into being. The Virtual Library brought in its wake new flavors in the form of digitizing not only printed material but also pictures, maps, scenarios, paintings and sounds and presenting them all in a lively show in a theatre like environment. Where do librarians stand in this scenario and where their profession is headed is the nagging question faced by one and all in the profession. This article tries to focus on the impact of Internet and World Wide Web on the traditional library profession and on the opportunities and options open to the librarians.

Traditionally librarians have been information providers for centuries. They now have the opportunity to use modern tools to provide quicker, more complete, and more sophisticated service to the users. Databases and reference sources can be queried via the Internet and World Wide Web; remote library catalogs are available on desktops; newsgroups and mailing lists provide a wonderful opportunity to discuss mutual concerns quickly and electronic mail allows librarians to find out and contact those who might be able to help in solving the problems. Perhaps no innovation has impacted the library profession to such a great extent as the Internet, World Wide Web and networked resources. The interconnection of world through the use of Internet and Web has changed the fundamental roles, paradigms and culture of libraries and librarians once for all.

The base of recorded information is growing at an accelerating rate in increasing variety of formats such as texts, numeric, graphic, video, audio, images, etc. In addition, increasing arrays of computing and telecommunication technologies are emerging to create new options and opportunities for the development of information capture, storage, retrieval and delivery. The seamless access of information available anywhere on the globe has brought people so close that the phrase "Global Village" is coined to describe the scenario.

In the prevailing situation the librarian is called upon to assume new roles and perform tasks like guiding, facilitating, sifting information resources and preserving the access to the information. The collaboration with computer and information technology scientists in the design and maintenance of information access systems for the effective use of Internet and Web in the interest of information seekers has become imperative.

Limitless Scope of Internet and World Wide Web

Internet, network of networks, connects several computers and resources around the world using the language called TCP/IP (Transmission Control Protocol/Internet Protocol). During the early years of Internet use, the access was mainly for basic database searching in large systems such as Online Computer Library Centre (OCLC), Research Libraries Information Network (RLIN), Bibliographic Retrieval System (BRS), and DIALOG. With the growth of the Internet and the addition of more diverse electronic resources, the capacity for searching the Internet also increased. …