India has significant advantages in the 21st century knowledge race. It has a large higher education sector--the third largest in the world in student numbers, after China and the United States. Next to China, India is the most populated country in the world. The purpose of education is well-rounded development. Students need a combination of arts, computer science, science, and humanities or literature courses to achieve this kind of development. A well-equipped and well-managed library is the foundation of modern educational structure. It is said that education without library services is like a body without soul, a vehicle without an engine, and building with bricks but no cement. The library is the chief instrument for accumulating and using our intellectual heritage. Formal education can be conducted effectively and efficiently only with well-equipped libraries. Today, libraries are connected to a vast ocean of Internet-based services. Electronic resources are developing rapidly. Academic libraries are the nerve centres of their institutions, and must support teaching, research, and other academic programmes. The situation in academic libraries in India is the same as that of academic libraries the world over; however, Indian libraries must provide maximum information with limited resources.
The Higher Education System of India
India has one of the largest higher education systems in the world. The growth rate of educational institutions in India was slow before independence in 1947, but now there are 543 universities, including 18 central universities, 275 state universities, 96 deemed universities, 13 national importance institutions, 136 research institutes, 5 institutions established under states Legislature Act, along with 16,885 colleges that provide education in all disciplines. The number of teachers is nearly half a million, with about one hundred thousand students enrolled in higher education.
UGC and Library Networking Systems
The University Grants Commission (UGC) was established by an act of Parliament in 1956. It is an autonomous advisory organization for the promotion and co-ordination of university education and for the maintenance of standards. The UGC directs higher education in India.
The UGC has played an important role in the improvement of university and college libraries. Realizing the value of the library and its role in higher education, the UGC accepted most of the recommendations of the several committees and commissions. UGC providing financial assistance for collection development, acquisition of books and periodicals, purchase of furniture and equipment, and construction of new library buildings. Working groups on information and library networks, modernisation of library service and information centres, and the developmental programmes of NISSAT, NIC, DESIMET, ERNET, CALNET, DELNET and CIRNET have covered things like standardization of information handling, networks, and training.
A consortium is a group of organizations who come together with a combined objective that requires co-operation and resource sharing. A library consortium can be local, regional, state, national, or international.
Libraries need consortia because of
* Information explosion
* Diversity of user needs
* Financial crunch
* Impossibility of self-sufficiency
Important advantages of library consortia are:
* Consortia-based subscription to electronic resources provides access to wider number of electronic resources at substantially lower cost.
* Optimum use of funds
* Facilities to create digital libraries
* Services like CAS and SDI
* Cost sharing for technical and training support
* Electronic journals demand neither library space nor shelving nor can they be stolen
Consortia have been offered better license terms, archival access, and preservation of electronic resources, which would not be possible for any single institution, and they are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, with economy in maintenance. …