[LIS-Forum] Neglected Role of Librarians
Dr. M. Koteswara Rao
mkrlib at uohyd.ernet.in
Tue Apr 8 13:58:00 IST 2008
I think this issue was already debated in many forums in India and abroad with
very little outcome. Dr. Saheb can search and see the literature on this topic.
We have to make a clear distinction between the duties of a librarian vis-a-vis
his his role in the book selection process. I do not agree that all librarians
have the necessary subject expertise to select books that are being bought by
the library. Yes, to some extent the librarian can make a choice with regard to
some general and reference books. There are many cases of librarians who do not
know the difference between an electronic chip (IC) and and Internal cumbustion
engine (IC)?. With many of our professional colleagues coming from arts,
humanities and social science background, it would be certainly difficult to
select science books. If our critics say that the librarian is all-in-all of
knowledge, they are wrong. Since LIS admission is open to people with any
subject; but the recruitment of LIS professional is definitely based on subject
background, such as engineers, doctors, scientists-biology, materials science,
optics, etc. So, let us be a generalist and not a specialist (of many things?)
With regard to bying duplicate copies of books recommended by the faculty, I
think we have to have a procedure (like we do) to avoid buying duplicate copy of
a book even if the faculty recommends. In all fair means the faculty should be
given the right to select and recommend books of their choice. The librarian may
help the book selection process in giving the necessary feedback in terms of
collection defficiencies, cost considerations, discounts and budgetary
allocation to the concerned departments and faculty. I sincerely feel that we
should not encroach on the 'domain' of the faculty for various reasons cited by
our colleague. There are many things a knowledgeble librarian can do to improve
the book collection and provide the required services to the users.
Dr. M. Koteswara Rao
University of Hyderabad
> Dear All,
> Dr Shahab has raised a very pertinent issue.
> Librarians were appointed, given all the responsibilities and not provided
with necessary enabling environments. So libraries are tend to fail in
delivering the services normally.
> Why does this happen?
> Many librarians are happy with confining themselves to some routine duties and
not interested to think, plan and implement library development and services.
Some others are incapable of functioning as a professional librarians due to
their poor exposure and lack of interest. Other capable and innovative
librarians do not get the luxury of a supportive and enabling environment for
their professional work. Very few institutions provide reasonable environment
for library development.
> This is a very bad situation.
> The book selection is considered to be a domain of some experts and librarian
is considered not capable of proper book selection. The selection of books
should be in tune with the information needs of the users. Book selection can
be done without the deeper knowledge of the subject or reading seriously, if you
know the criteria to evaluate a book based on the quality consideration of the
publisher, book reviews and even the citation statistics, if one is a capable
librarian. On the other hand teachers, having doctorate degrees etc and
incapable of making a good selection for the library, are provided with the
right to selection based on the knowledge that they are experts and librarians
are ignorant. We need to change this situation for which the library
professional associations should raise this issue, promote the concept
and should show good results at least in some institutions where librarians
can build a better collection, if provided with a free hand. Unless the
librarian is supported with facilities like men money, materials , methods etc,
they cannot go ahead reasonably in proper library development.
> In this age of interdisciplinary studies, proper book selection require very
good understanding of the main subjects in general and their inter- relationships.
> Librarian should develop that knowledge by becoming a generalist, rather than
a specialist. Library schools should work as a breeding ground of such new breed
of library professionals.
> K Rajasekharan
> Librarian, Kerala Institute of Local Administration(KILA)
> Mulagunnathukavu, Thrissur - 680581 , India
> Original Message
> Subject: [LIS-Forum] Seeking discussion on problems with a balance BOOK
SELECTION POLICY & PROCEDURE
> From: T. Shahab <tshahab at jamiahamdard.ac.in>
> Dear Memberss,
> Through the popular LIS-Forum for exchanging professional ideas, I wish to
engage the valuable attention of the practicing librarians to the ever
increasing problem of breach in librarians' domain by faculty members in light
of the shrinking role of librarians in determining the policy and procedures
involving many of the library activities, particularly the collection
development through BOOK SELECTION. In some libraries that I know, the
Acquisition Dept. has been turned into just like a clearance house; the
librarian is not consulted on matters of Book selection; even the budgeted
amount under the Central library has to be used on the authorization of the
Vice-chancellor or one of his/ her nominees. Book suppliers will directly
contact the faculty members get the books recommended and pass-on the
recommended lists to the Acquisition Dept. for necessary followups. Some times,
two or more departments may recommend the same title, and the librarian being
unaware of the reason, has only to meekly put his/her signature. Even in matters
of acquiring multiple copies of the already purchased books (on students'
demand), the hands of a librarian is bound. A Librarian being in close touch
with the students is always approached by them with their requests on different
library related matters, but the librarian is most of the cases is unable to
make any firm committment for a facility or extension of services to the
students. This change in power dynamics in Universities is making the job of a
librarian a very unsavoury one; most librarians are feeling dejected and
> professionally emasculated. Please, take the above write-up as a point of
discussion. Feel free to express your considered opinion on this matter of great
> Regards. Dr. T. SHAHAB
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