Magazine article Computers in Libraries

The National Insurance Academy: Serving India's Insurance Professionals and Researchers

Magazine article Computers in Libraries

The National Insurance Academy: Serving India's Insurance Professionals and Researchers

Article excerpt

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This article will discuss how a special library can meet the needs of a specific industry. I will focus on India's National Insurance Academy (NIA) Library, which serves the insurance industry of India and some neighboring countries. It is where I serve as the chief librarian.

The NIA Library Is Established

The insurance industry in India has been influenced by the British insurance industry and follows most British insurance practices. The NIA was established in 1980 by the General Insurance Corp. of India (GIC) and the Life Insurance Corp. of India (LIC) for the purpose of training and research in insurance and allied subjects.

The NIA Library started functioning in June 1981 in Mumbai, India, and shifted to the city of Pune, India, in the year 1990. The library's core collection is in the area of insurance and management. Additional academic collections at the library are in the areas of finance, laws and regulations, economics, marketing, and computers and information technology. The library serves users from the parent organization--i.e., faculty members, research associates, and participants of the academy's training programs. Students of the postgraduate course in insurance management have also become active users. The NIA Library helps these users in all the aspects of insurance--life insurance, health insurance, general insurance, actuarial science, insurance laws and regulations, insurance practices, and insurance claims handling.

Library Automation

Computers entered the NIA Library during the year 1992. The library started using computers for data entry purposes using FoxPro. Within a year, the library purchased library software by a local vendor and started using all of the modules such as accessioning, cataloging, circulation, and serial control. Computers were used on the library premises only, and an OPAC was not yet made available outside the library.

The library has been fully automated since 1999. The library is referenced on NIA's homepage, www.niapune.com, and displays the various services offered, including Library Newsletter, KeyWord/s In Context (KWIC) Service, and a virtual tour. The library also has an intranet page, which periodically updates internal users.

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During the year 2000, the library switched software for better results. By that time, the library's collections boasted more than 10,000 books, 100 journal titles, 1,500 journal holdings, and other research material.

The library now has Plan 2021 in place for the future. Plan 2021 includes improvement of indexing and abstracting services, development and dissemination of the academic audio collection, acquisition of digital documents, and development of e-collections for the benefit of the insurance community.

Services NIA Library Provides to India's Insurance Industry

News headlines dissemination service. In the NIA Library's first decade, news clippings were preserved manually. That is, the librarian would cut out relevant news articles from newspapers on a set schedule. These cuttings were then pasted in chronological order into one of the registers. Users interested in the collection would browse through the physical registers for reference. Manually typed indexes helped users search the news headlines.

Computers entered the library in the early 1990s, followed closely by the introduction of the internet. Now, library information could reach the user directly. Online indexes of news headlines were being sent by email. And users could now see a full-text newspaper online, when that task used to involve a physical trip to the library.

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Since 2007, really simple syndication (RSS) technology has been used to collect news. This is freely available on the internet. Now the librarian need not search for relevant news anymore. Specific keywords are all it takes for RSS feeds to bring the news to the librarians. …

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