Web-Based Services in University Libraries: A Pakistani Perspective

By Mirza, Muhammad Sajid; Mahmood, Khalid | Library Philosophy and Practice, June 2009 | Go to article overview

Web-Based Services in University Libraries: A Pakistani Perspective


Mirza, Muhammad Sajid, Mahmood, Khalid, Library Philosophy and Practice


Introduction

Libraries use their websites to provide services to users without their physical presence. Some libraries provide only minimal information about their collections and services, while many offer more WebOPACs, access to online databases, e-books, virtual reference service, electronic reserves, Web-based user education tools, virtual tours, etc. National Digital Library Program, Pakistan Education and Research Network (PERN), and Research Repository of Pakistan are significant initiatives of Higher Education Commission of Pakistan (HEC), which promote technology and research in the country. Those initiatives have helped university libraries to be in a better position to provide state-of-the-art resources through traditional and modern systems. Many university libraries have developed their websites or are in the process of development.

There were many studies available on the design of library websites, role of library websites, web-based library services, and case studies of individual library websites in the international library literature. Rhodes and Chelin (1999) surveyed 68 university libraries in the UK and found that almost three quarters of the libraries make use of the web for user education. He suggested that web-based instruction is unlikely to completely replace traditional methods, but it can be used to supplement and extend existing provision. Halub (1999) stated that the librarians of Cedars-Sinai Health System have considered while maintaining and creating web-based library services: the design of website; offer what services you can; but weigh the advantages of providing the services against the time required to maintain them; make the content as accessible as possible; promote your website and make friends in other departments, especially information services. Ahmed (2002) found in a survey of seven Arabian Gulf university libraries that almost all the libraries are offering web-based services in one way or the other. Feldman and Strobel (2002) recommend that for advancing web-based services it is essential to initiate self-service circulation or librarian-mediated online reference. Saeed (1999) studied use of the Internet in 29 university libraries of Pakistan and found that there were only two university libraries with a web OPAC. Mirza (2007) surveyed six federally chartered general university libraries and found that reference service was being provided electronically by four (66.67 percent) university libraries, while three (50 percent) were providing electronic document delivery service.

University libraries are a hub of knowledge and information services in their institutions and are usually established along with their mother institutions as an integral part. According to HEC (2008), there are 124 general and specialized universities and degree--awarding institutes throughout the country including Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK) and Federally Administrated Northern Areas (FANA) in public and private sector. The first university library established in the country is Punjab University Library (1882), Lahore, which is also the largest library with a collection of 500,000.

There is no study of web-based services offered by the university libraries of Pakistan. This first study measures the extent of web-based services offered by the general university libraries in Pakistan.

Objectives of the Study

1. To find out the number of university libraries having a website.

2. To find out whether the libraries have a direct hyperlink on their university homepage.

3. To investigate whether the university libraries have a static or dynamic website.

4. To measure the extent of the web-based services offered by the general university libraries in Pakistan.

Study Design

In this study, all the general university libraries (GUL), excluding one distance learning program, one virtual, and three universities whose major function is as a regulatory body (N=56) have been included. …

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