R R Hirwani addressing the gathering at the confernce | Albin Mathew
Libraries are losing out to the Internet as the new generation of researchers is switching over to social network technologies to gather, create and share information, according to an expert.
Addressing the National Conference on Reaching Out to Users Through Technology (ROUTE 2013) – Enhancing Innovative Library Services in Open Environment recently, R R Hirwani, director of Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) Unit for Research and Development of Information Products, said the need of the hour is that libraries should plan for and build services that fit the work habits of new researchers, with an emphasis on the flexibility and remixing of content and services.
He said that the CSIR’s experience of interviewing M Sc students who had passed, showed that only two per cent of them start their search from the library, with their first choice being search engines on the Internet. Hirwani said as a result, there is a change taking place. “Previously, users built their workflow around the library. Now the library must build its service around the user workflow,” he added. He said that resources were scarce earlier and attention was abundant, but now attention is scarce and resources are abundant.
Hirwani also said that there was a need to discontinue investment and give continued importance to physical space within research libraries. “The library is no longer the entry gate to research. We need to connect multiple discovery environments to library fulfillment options, besides putting library resources in the user’s work flow,” he added. “Today’s generation wants a Café Coffee day-like experience. Let us give them a library experience which matches the experience of the web,” Hirwani added.
Earlier, delivering the presidential address, director of CSIR-Structural Engineering Research Centre, Chennai Nagesh R Iyer said that libraries can no longer remain as mere institutions in the technological era, but should have a more active role as an efficient information provider. “If science has to flourish and development has to be inclusive and equitable, it is absolutely essential that everyone has equal access to knowledge,” he added.