Role of UGC in Reengineering the LIS Education

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India has witnessed a slow and steady growth of Library and Information Science (LIS) education. The foundation of LIS education in India dates back in 1911 when W.A.Borden (1853-1931), an American disciple of Melvil Dewey, for the first time started a short term training programme in library science at

Baroda under the patronage of Maharaja Sayajirao III, Gaekwad of Baroda

(1862-1939). Four years later in 1915, another American student of Dewey, Asa

Don Dickinson (1876-1960), the then librarian of Punjab University, Lahore

(now in Pakistan) started a three-months apprentice training programme for

working librarians (Satija, 1993 p.37). Before independence, only five

universities (Andhra, Banaras, Bombay, Calcutta and Madras) were offering the

diploma course in library science.

After independence, new colleges, universities, educational institutions and

learned societies were emerging and the need for professionally qualified

personnel to manage their libraries was realized. As a result, the number of

library science schools started to increase. Library associations which exist at

various places started providing training courses. Dr S.R. Ranganathan started a

certificate course at Madras Library Association in 1929 which was taken over

by the University of Madras, and in 1937 the course was converted into

Postgraduate (PG) Diploma in Library Science. This was the first diploma

programme in Library Science in India. University of Delhi was the first

university to establish a full-fledged Department of Library Science just before

independence in 1946, and started admitting students to the PG Diploma in

1947. In 1951, the diploma was changed to Master in Library Science

(M.Lib.Sc). Later, between 1956 to1959, six new LIS departments were

established (Mangla, 1998, p.287) at Aligarh Muslim University, M.S.University

of Baroda, Nagpur University, Osmania University, Pune University and Vikram

University. Since 1960s, the number of LIS departments established has

continued to increase.

During this period, several institutions played important role for the development

of LIS education. University of Madras started her first PG Diploma in library

science. University of Delhi contributed many firsts such as the starting of

Master in Library Science in 1951; which in 1972, on account of a major course

revision was renamed Master in Library and Information Science (MLIS). The

department name was also changed to Department of Library & Information

Science. The course on 'Computer Applications in Libraries' was introduced for

the first time in the MLIS programme in 1972. The M.Phil programme started

in1978. The first Ph.D. was awarded to D B Krishna Rao in 1957, under the

guidance of Dr. Ranganathan. At that time it was the only university in the

whole of the British Commonwealth conducting Ph.D programme in LIS.

The Present

Over a period of time, LIS has grown and developed into a full-fledged

discipline; courses are being imparted by university departments, institutions,

library associations and specialized institutionsThe number of universities (including distance education) offering LIS programmes is as follows: 120 universities are offering bachelor's degree, 78 are offering master's

degree, 21 are offering two-year integrated course, 16 universities are offering

M.Phil degree, and 63 are offering Ph.D. degree. In addition, NISCAIR

(formerly INSDOC), New Delhi and DRTC, Bangalore are offering a two-year

Associateship in Information Science, which is recognized by some universities

as equivalent to Master's degree.

Need for redefining LIS Education

The LIS education aims at providing trained manpower to manage different

types of libraries, information and documentation centres which, over a period of

time have undergone changes in terms of needs, functions, types and range of

services offered, as well as tools and techniques being used when offering the

services. Application of information and communication technologies has

revolutionized the whole concept of libraries, the system of information storage

and retrieval and ways to access the information. Therefore, the objectives of

LIS education also need to be redefined.

Levels of LIS Education

The LIS education in India is offered at various levels such as certificate,

diploma, degree, Associateship in Information Science (AIS), M.Phil and Ph.D.

These programmes are offered on regular basis as well as through

correspondence courses or distance education. Details about the types of courses

are as follows.

(a) Certificate Course

Certificate courses are mainly conducted by library associations; however, some

departments in universities and affiliated colleges are also conducting this

The courses aim to train the students for semi-professional or junior level jobs

after high school or senior secondary education.

(b) Undergraduate Diploma Course

The Diploma courses are conducted at two levels, that is undergraduate and postgraduate levels. Undergraduate courses are conducted by women polytechnics as a two-year course after higher secondary or intermediate. It prepares students to

be junior librarian and hold library assistant positions.

(c) Postgraduate (PG) Diploma Course

PG courses in some selected LIS areas of specialization are offered at the

university level as a one-year course after the Bachelor of Library and

Information Science programme. At present, only three universities and one

deemed university are offering these programmes (Association of Indian

Universities, 2003). They are a) University of Kerala, PG Diploma in

Information Technology ; b) University of Mysore, Post MLIS Diploma in

Library Automation; c) Gandhigram Rural Institute, PG Diploma in Archives &

Documentation Management (UGC Model Curriculum, 2001, p.102); and d)

University of Hyderabad, PG Diploma in Library Automation and Networking

(Association of Indian Universities, 2003, p.2)

(d) Bachelor of Library and Information Science (BLIS)

This is a one-year degree course conducted by universities after students

graduate with a basic degree. However, in some colleges, Library Science is

offered as an optional subject at the Bachelor of Arts level. For this, the students

opt for Library Science as one of the optional paper, along with other optional

papers in social sciences or the humanities. At present, 120 Indian universities are offering BLIS.

(e) Master of Library and Information Science (MLIS)

It is a post-graduate course offered after BLIS. Presently, a total of 99

universities are offering MLIS, 21of them are offering two-year integrated

course directly after BLIS. Many of the universities, which were

initially offering BLIS and MLIS courses have now switched over to a two-year

integrated course. The North East Hill University (NEHU) was the first

University to start the course in 1986, followed by the University of Madras in

1988.

(f) Associateship in Information Science

Since 1964, the Indian National Scientific Documentation Centre (INSDOC)

New Delhi has been offering a two-year programme in documentation, which in

1977 the programme was renamed as Associateship in Information Science

(AIS). On the 30th September 2002, INSDOC merged with the National Institute

of Science Communication (NISCOM) and was renamed the National Institute

of Science Communication and Information Resources (NISCAIR). The

qualification for admission to the NISCAIR's programme is a master's degree in

any subject or a BLibSc /BLIS with three years library experience. The

Documentation Research and Training Centre (DRTC), established in 1962 in

Bangalore, is also awarding AIS. Admission requirement to DRTC is a

bachelor's degree in library science or a master's degree in any subject with a

minimum of two years library experience.

(g) Advanced Training Course in Information Systems Management and

Technology

This one-year advanced training course in Information Systems Management

and Technology is provided by the National Centre for Science Information

(NCSI), an autonomous organisation under University Grants Commission

(UGC) located at Indian Institute of Science (IISc), Bangalore.

(h) Other Specialised Programmes

The Indian Association of Special Libraries and Information Centers (IASLIC)

and the National Archives of India also offers specialised courses. IASLIC offers

a one-year diploma programme in special librarianship and the National

Archives of India offers a one-year diploma programme in archives and related

Subjects.

(i) M.Phil in Library & Information Science

This is a research programme offered by university departments after one's

completion of MLIS. The University of Delhi started this programme in 1978,

followed by many other universities such as Andhra, Tirupati, Annamalai,

Vikram (Ujjain), and Gulbarga. At present there are 16 universities offering this course.

(j) Ph.D. Programme

This is an advanced level research programme being offered after the completion

of MLIS or M.Phil degree in library science. Today, 64 universities in India are

providing facilities for the Ph.D programme. The general qualification for

admission is MLIS. However, LIS teachers and librarians in lecturer's scale are

exempted from this requirement.

(k) D.Litt. Programme

Two universities, Banaras Hindu University, Varanasi and Utkal University,

Bhubaneswar offers D.Litt. programme in library science. So far only one D.Litt.

degree had been awarded in India since 1992.

Problems of LIS Education in India

A close examination of the past studies (Mangla, 1998; Singh, 2003) reveals that there are lots of problems that confront the LIS education in India. These problems may be summarized as follows:

• Unplanned proliferations of library schools.

• Lots of variations in syllabi and no norms or standards are maintained in regard

to course contents.

• Lack of consensus regarding duration of the LIS courses at various levels.

• Student-teacher ratio.

• Lack of uniformity in

- Selection criteria for admission;

- Intake;

- Class periods;

- Teaching methodology;

- Distribution of marks;

- Methods of evaluation; and

- Research programs.

• Inadequate infrastructure in respect of

- Space;

- Faculty members;

- IT Laboratory;

- Library; and

- Teaching aids.

• Inadequate training facilities to update the professional competence of in-service teachers. Existing UGC refresher courses failed to provide needed expertise and skills to meet the growing complexities of information environment.

• Lack of internal quality assurance and accreditation mechanism.

Thus, it transpires that no library school in India conforms to the norms or standards and they are facing multifarious challenges

UGC Efforts Towards Quality of LIS Education

Concerted efforts for the improvement of the quality of LIS education in Indian universities are evident in the recommendations of various Committees constituted by the University Grants Commission (UGC) since its inception in 1956. Some notable examples are:

• Ranganathan Committee on Development of University and College Libraries, 1959.

• Ranganathan Committee on Library Science in Indian Universities, 1965.

• Kaula Committee on Curriculum Development in Library and Information Science, 1993.

• Karisiddappa Committee on Curriculum Development in Library and Information Science, 2001.

The recommendations made by these committees at different points of time provide valuable guidelines in respect of standardization of curriculum, enrolment, infrastructure, quality of teachers, teaching and evaluation methodology, research programs, etc. But very little has been done to implement the recommendations. Apart from the above mentioned committees, efforts for developing standard

pattern of LIS education are also evident in the recommendations of the UGC Panel of LIS appointed in 1979 and 1982 respectively. It needs to be mentioned here that the model curriculum for different levels of LIS education suggested for the first time by the Curriculum Development Committee (CDC) (University Grants Commission, 1993) raised awkward question 'Is the LIS curriculum intended to match the specific requirement of any particular LIS department of the given university?'Each LIS department has its own objectives and own organizational framework, which is particular to it. Hence, rather than functioning as some kind of master plan for a curriculum, the modular structure of curriculum was suggested in an evaluative study of the first CDC report (Basu & Sarkhel, 1995).Subsequently, the model curriculum of LIS suggested by the second CDC was based on modular approach and the modules incorporated in the model curriculum could be used as a basis for designing an actual curriculum, keeping in view the local conditions and needs (University Grants Commission,2001). But unfortunately this model curriculum was not adopted by most of the universities, as the role of the UGC is more of recommendatory in nature than accrediting.

LIS Education Libraries- the Controlling Mechanism

University Grants Commission (http://www.ugc.ac.in): Established in 1956 by the Government

of India, UGC is the statutory body for planning and monitoring. Its objective is to promote and

coordinate university education and to determine and maintain standards of teaching, examination and

research in universities. It regulates standards as well as provides funds. UGC provides development

(plan) grant and maintenance (non-plan) grant for academic purposes whereas state government grants

are received occasionally. The universities are often to work under tight budgets and resultant cuts

often affect the computer laboratory and other infrastructural facilities required for the less privileged

subjects like LIS. An effort is urgently needed to seek the help of non-governmental sources for

financing higher education.

UGC has undertaken different programs towards fulfilling its objectives, like Special Assistance

Program (SAP), Examination Reform, INSAT-1B Satellite program on Higher Education

(available on television network throughout the country) and holding of annual competitive

examination for Junior Research Fellowship (UGC NET) at the national level.

It also has established 57 Academic Staff Colleges (ASC) till May 2007

(http://www.ugc.ac.in/orgn/staffcollege.html). Through Orientation Program, an ASC tries to refresh

the already employed with a cutting edge of recent trends in his subject.

Information and Library Network (INFLIBNET) Centre (http://www.inflibnet.ac.in): It is an

Autonomous Inter-University Centre (IUC) of University Grants Commission involved in creating

infrastructure for sharing of library and information resources and services among Academic and

Research Institutions. INFLIBNET works collaboratively with Indian university libraries to shape the

future of the academic libraries in the evolving information environment.

Two important activities of it are creation of SOUL (Software for University Libraries) and UGCINFONET Digital Library Consortium. The electronic resources subscribed under the Consortium

are available on subscription to the universities and other academic institutions.

SOUL has been used in building up a great project IndCat. IndCat is the Online Union Catalogue of

Indian Universities of books, theses and journals available in major university libraries in India. The

union database contains bibliographic description, location and holdings information for books,

journals and theses in all subject areas available in more than 112 university libraries across the

country.SOUL is still to beincorporated in the LIS syllabus of the Universities and yet to take top seat in the library function of many universities. Likewise much other library software- is it proprietary like LibSys, VTLS or open source and/or free like Koha are yet to be a part of the LIS curricula though questions regarding that software often form a crucial part of most job interviews.

NAAC

The National Assessment and Accreditation Council (NAAC) is an autonomous body set up by the UGC to establish quality in higher education in India. Sarkhel (2004) traced the genesis of NAAC and evaluated the processes adopted in the assessment and accreditation of the collegiate education in India. The NAAC has already completed the process of assessment and accreditation in a number of universities and colleges. In the present system of NAAC, there are two types of accreditation: Institutional accreditation and Departmental accreditation.

Towards Accreditation of LIS Education

Internal quality assurance and accreditation of higher education through an external agency have become the part of campus lexicon. To achieve academic excellence, it has been envisaged that standards and norms for LIS education should be set by an external agency and thereafter adherence to them may be made mandatory (Baradol, 1999). Accreditation is a set of processes whereby an outside agency evaluates and examines the LIS courses according to a set of predetermined norms and standards. The professional accreditation of LIS education in universities has long been practiced in the UK, USA and Australia (Enser & Wood, 1999).

It has now become imperative to establish an external agency at the national level which can undertake the work of accreditation of LIS courses in India, as is being done in certain other professions like Medicine, Management, Engineering and Technology, Law and Education. A more difficult question to answer refers to the authority, which should be responsible for accreditation. The UGC or Association

of Indian Universities (AIU) can take the lead in developing a mechanism for introducing a method of accreditation of LIS schools and courses. The Government of India should pass an Act that should make provision for establishing a statutory Library and Information Science Council of India (LISCI) and it should function as a central agency to provide guidelines and standards in LIS education and practices. LISCI would be responsible to lay down parameters for starting new LIS schools, continuation of existing LIS schools, recognition and equivalence of different levels of LIS degrees for the purpose of employment or higher studies, and promotion of LIS education in India.

Criteria for Assessment

Any assessment and subsequent accreditation is made with reference to a set of parameters so that the standing of a given LIS department can be compared with that of LIS departments of other universities. These parameters may be considered as reliable benchmarks to assess the level of performance of LIS departments. Differential weightages may be allotted to these parameters for calculation of the score of the LIS department and this score can be used to assign the overall grade. The grade will be supplemented by a qualitative report to be prepared by the peer team appointed by the accreditation agency and this report would highlight the strength and weakness of the given LIS department under various parameters.

Mission Statement

It is necessary to formulate the mission statement of each LIS department in the universities in order to plan the development of value-based and need based quality education and training in LIS with a view to generate qualified and competent manpower, responsive to societal needs

Curriculum Design, Content and organization

The quality indicators under this parameter include range of curricular options for different levels of LIS courses, innovative and interdisciplinary input, extent of incorporation of projects, laboratory and field work, periodicity of the review / revision of the LIS curricula, and mechanism of monitoring the curricula in the class room.

Teaching, Learning and Assessment

The characteristics to be examined under this parameter include modes of students' selection for admission, teacher-student ratio, provision of departmental library and IT laboratory,modes of teaching, innovative teaching methods, tutorial system, regularity of classes, mechanisms for evaluation of teaching and research, academic and research eminence of the faculty, faculty development program, extent of cooperation with national and international library schools, mode of evaluation of students' performance including objectivity, impartiality and transparency in evaluation.

Student Support and Progression

This parameter looks at the efforts of the LIS department to provide the necessary assistance for good student experiences and to facilitate their progression. The quality indicators under this parameter include availability of comprehensive prospectus, career guidance, academic counseling and placement services, scholarship and financial aid for students, welfare services, student and alumni profiles, support services for NRI and overseas students.

Infrastructure and Learning Resources

The quality indicators under this parameter include adequacy and optimal use of different facilities available to the students, teachers and external agencies and how they benefit from these facilities. The facilities may include space for study, teaching and research, central as well as departmental computer facilities including Internet, access to learning resources in and outside the university, hostel facilities,etc.

Research, Consultancy and Extension

The quality indicators under this parameter include provision of research facilities, involvement of the LIS department in research, consultancy service, extension programs and research publications.

Organization and Management

The characteristics to be examined under this parameter include the policies and practices governing the LIS department in the matter of planning, manpower requirement and training, and performance appraisal. Some important quality indicators are: governance of the LIS department on the principle of participation and transparency, academic calendar, effective resource mobilization and management strategy.

Conclusions

In recent years, the Indian Higher Education System has become fully aware of the need for quality. As India becomes integrated into the international economic system and participates in a competitive environment, it has become imperative to provide quality LIS education and thereby produce quality LIS professionals who can work in multi-racial and multi-cultural environments. Quality and excellencecould not be attained overnight. Organized and focused efforts by various agencies, viz. Central Government, State Government, UGC, AIU, university administration, LIS professionals, teachers and students are needed to achieve this goal.

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