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Re: 2020 - Shape of Academic and Research Libraries

Re: 2020 - Shape of Academic and Research Libraries

Dear Friends,

Thank you all very much in responding to email on the above subject. I had made certain assumptions that could be true in the year 2020. Under such circumstances, what could be the Shape of Academic and Research Libraries? I did not touch upon the Public and National Libraries, as their functions are more of serving the citizens and of archival of national heritage.

Some of you [1][2] have valid reasons to question such assumptions especially when it comes to India. Infrastructure like Electricity and Reliable Internet connectivity could be major hurdles. You won’t believe that even in Delhi, the capital of India, there are regular power cuts. Even in day of Govt. Control of power distribution the situation was much better. Only problem was billing and their payment. With private companies, billing and payments is no problem, can be handled conveniently over Internet. But the power cuts are a routine and unscheduled. So lesson learned is that Privatization without competition is worse.

But friends, hold a bit, lack of infrastructure won’t affect the coming shape of libraries in India. The Reason? Our Research and Teaching depends largely depends on what is published outside India. Even good Indian content is published outside India. So we have no choice if much of it is available in electronic format in future. I agree with some of you [2][5] that paper is more convenient mode of reading. But then efforts to develop display gadgets that will give the comfort of paper are on way and by 2020 could be a reality. So, I think, whether we are ready or not – content may only available in electronic form [3][6] from developed countries. Economics of publishing may not favor print formats. The publishers will be distributing the content, as done now, in various business models – Free, Fee Based, Pay-per-view etc. Only thing would be that confusions around copyrights etc would be cleared and taken care of by the year 2020.

Friends, training of the end-users will also be not a major problem then. The future users are the now primary school children. You will appreciate how both their teachers and parents keen to teach them computers. Infact, if a middle class Indian family is buying a home computer today, it is for their children. I hope this generation of users may be well ahead of present day users.
I am not painting a gloomy picture for future of Librarianship. I am only assuming a “worst – case scenario”. I know, I was told in my matriculation math class, how to solve problem and find unknown quantity – ‘Let the quantity be “X” !!!’ and so on.

So friends, under the given assumptions, what would be the libraries of year 2020 look like?

  1. - Satish S Munnolli

  2. - Varalakshmi

  3. - Surinder Kumar

  4. - Vasumathi Sriganesh

  5. - Rama Reddy

  6. - Prasanna

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