of a Virtual Library
Director, Centre on Rural Documentation
National Institute of Rural Development
Rajendranagar, Hyderabad-500030. INDIA
Describes the objectives of and various databases available with Computerised Library and Clearinghouse of Information for rural development. Also discusses how these databases serve as a virtual library on rural development at National Institute for Rural Development.
KEYWORDS: Virtual library, Rural development, CLIC, National Institute of Rural Development.
National Institute of Rural Development (NIRD) is an apex research and training institute for rural development in India. The major functions of NIRD are to collect, organise and disseminate rural development information pertaining to not only India but also other developing countries for the benefit of the development community comprising policy makers, planners, researchers, trainers, functionaries and grass root workers. However, building a development information system is not an easy task, given the fact that there are scores of organisations, governmental and non-governmental, and thousands of development personnel involved in policy making, planning, and implementation of development programmes spread throughout India, as rural development is a state subject. The Development Information System (Devsis) Report of 1975 of IDRC, Canada, recognises information as a resource for development and that it is very difficult access this resource. The role of Internet as an enabling technology for any organisation need not be over-emphasised. Many organisations are using the Internet-based or Web-enabled technologies to improve upon their strategic position or to create new opportunities for their services and information products. Therefore, attempts are being made to facilitate access to information using Internet by NIRD under a project called Computerised Library and Information Clearinghouse (CLIC) for rural development as a scheme of 9th plan. CLIC is an in-house facility for selection, acquisition, processing and retrieval of information on rural development using Web technologies in keeping with the mission of NIRD. The uniqueness of CLIC is that it collects information on different aspects of rural development in India and other developing countries at one single point and makes it accessible through Web. Another interesting aspect is that using the facility that information technology provides, links have been established to various Web sites in India and abroad that give information on rural development research and training aspects. Thus, a virtual library is created using Web resources.
The objectives of CLIC are to collect, collate and repackage information relating to rural development from internal and external sources; to prepare inventory of Internet resources/Web sites having rural development as their focus and maintain linkages with them for exchange of information; and to make information available online on Internet/LAN for the use of development community.
ACCESS TO DATABASES
CLIC provides access to several databases viz. Who is Who in Ministry of Rural Development; Rural Development Programmes; Rural Development Programmes: State-wise; Rural Development Statistics 1999; Success Stories in Rural Development; National and International Institutions; Rural Development Web sites; List of State Institutes of Rural Development (SIRDs); State Secretaries; Newspaper Clippings; Data Bank from Internet on Drinking Water, Watershed Development, Panchayati Raj, Rural Roads, Rural Housing, Rural Industries, Environment and Rural Development; Rural Technologies; NIRD Library Database consisting of 1.70 lakh references. Information is given about rural development institutions in India; 300 rural development experts in India working in academic institutions, government and non-governmental organizations [A separate database exists for NIRD expertise]; non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and their activities; funding agencies in India; universities of India; etc. It also provides ready reference service to the faculty of NIRD by downloading documents from Internet. A classified list of journals being subscribed by the Centre on Rural Documentation is also available. Provides information about the institution offering training in rural development and allied areas, on-going research in various Indian institutions & universities.
Current Awareness Publications
CORD Alerts, CORD Index, and CORD Abstracts are the three publications providing current awareness service. CORD Alerts includes selected articles of journals received each week, titles of books and other materials received in the library in a fortnight. CORD Index lists journal articles, books, reports and other documents added to the database every month. CORD Abstracts provides abstracts of important articles and book notes.
There are a few issues that managers of any virtual library should keep in mind. One of them is technology adoption. The changing technologies over the years gave rise to incompatible system architecture. This is more acutely felt when the traditional systems are changed to digital library streams. The second issue is the user interface. Emerging library systems that use new technologies should keep in mind the system user. The user-friendly system responds well to users search needs. Here the training of the user becomes very important. NIRD continuously provides training to users to adopt the new technologies to their benefit. The librarians also should have regular interactions with the user and find ways and means to serve the user better.
A traditional library offers information, keeping documents as the central object. In the changing age of information, there is a need to keep information as the central object. Though the search patterns are similar in traditional and virtual libraries, the virtual libraries use the Internet as the delivery mechanism for services, thus increasing the variety, efficiency and availability of improved library services. Also virtual libraries have no location restrictions. The user as well as the virtual library can be anywhere in the world and the library is accessible to everybody 24 hours a day. However, there is a need for the management to publicize and promote the use of virtual libraries to a greater extent. CLIC is one such attempt made by NIRD in the field of rural development encouraging users to avail the information facility provided in furtherance of the activities pursued by them.
Information Today & Tomorrow, Vol. 21, No. 1, March 2002, p.15-p.16