Academic journal article Journal of Education for Library and Information Science

Challenges and Concerns for Library and Information Science (LIS) Education in India and South Asia

Academic journal article Journal of Education for Library and Information Science

Challenges and Concerns for Library and Information Science (LIS) Education in India and South Asia

Article excerpt

The role that education plays in building and developing nations is undebatable. This is no less the case in India and South Asia. Higher education in India has its roots in the ancient times. The world famous Taxila University (414 A.D.) and Nalanda University (427 A.D.) were the pride of the country. From these early beginnings India witnessed a steady growth in higher education. It now has one of the largest education systems in the world with 700 universities, deemed universities and institutes. But India's Gross Enrollment Ratio (GER) for higher education is less that it should be. The GER is around 10% as compared to the 25% of many other developing countries and 81% of USA (National Knowledge Commission, 2009). The Planning Commission of India is committed to increasing the GER to 21% by the end of 12th five year plan that is currently operational in 2015.

The success of an education system depends to a great extent on the financial support of government. Educational success also depends on the availability of libraries that are well resourced and funded. In the current era, libraries in India, as elsewhere, are functioning in a highly competitive, dynamic, and technology based environment. This requires regular updating of Library and Information Science (LIS) curriculum in order to meet the emerging needs of LIS practitioners. The LIS profession in India is facing many challenges as a result of this changing environment. Not least the introduction of rapidly evolving Information Technology and changing management practices.

LIS Education in India: A Humble Beginning

The history of LIS education in India is nearly a century old. In 1911, W. A. Borden, an American student of Melvil Dewey started a library school at Baroda (Maharashtra) under the royal benefaction of Shivaji Rao Gaikwad II. Asa Don Dickenson, another disciple of Dewey, was the founding father of LIS education at the university level. He started a library school at Punjab University, Lahore (now in Pakistan) in 1915 to provide a certifi- cate course in LIS. After the library school of Columbia University, "The training school at Punjab University was considered to be the second known library school in the world" (Ali & Bakshi, 2010).

Dr. S. R. Ranganathan is undoubtedly the father of Library Science in India (see http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/ topic/491106/Shiyali-Ramamrita-Ranganathan ). Ranganathan laid down a sound foundation of LIS education by starting a certificate course at Madras Library Association in 1929. This was later taken over by Madras University in 1931. From certificate and diploma courses LIS education gradually evolved to master's and doctorate level. Before independence in 1947, five universities were conducting Library Science (LS) education programs in India. The University of Delhi was the first to start awarding master's degrees in 1951, and awarded the first PhD in LS in 1957. Dasgupta (2009) writes that the University of Delhi "was first university in the country as well as in (the British) Commonwealth to introduce doctoral studies in library science." The University of Delhi also holds the credit for establishing an independent Department of LIS to bring it into line with other disciplines. During this post-independence period, LIS departments were established at various universities in all parts of the country to meet the growing demand for LIS professionals.

The Present Position

Over time LIS has become recognized as an independent discipline like many others. "It is estimated that today in India approximately one hundred eighty two (182) LIS departments affiliated to universities and colleges are offering LIS education in regular and distance mode" (LIS Edu Gatewayhttp://liseducation.in/ lisdep.php). Among these departments are the Documentation Research and Training Centre (DRTC), Bangalore, and the National Institute of Science Communication and Information Resources (NISCAIR), New Delhi, previously known as Indian National Scientific Documentation Centre (INSDOC). …

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