Modern Library Services: Introduction and the Modern Library

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Internet came into existence in the 1950s and gained popularity only in the mid-1990s. It has completely revolutionized each and every sphere of life, be it banking, entertainment, or education. Likewise, its impact on libraries has been stupendous. Libraries which are also known as knowledge centers, have taken advantage of Internet in offering new collections and services to their users.

Modern Library

A modern library is a social organization which uses technology to offer information services. The services are offered to its heterogeneous population on a 24X7 basis as and when required. It does not limit itself to offering “place-based services.”

Some of the characteristics of modern libraries are:

Modern libraries have a social function in making knowledge publicly available. They play two pivotal roles, firstly, to serve as a local center of information and knowledge and secondly, to be a local gateway to national and global knowledge.

The Modern Library

  • selects, procures, organizes and delivers the widest possible range of current and quality information resources to its heterogeneous user population as and when it needs it.
  • is a member of some regional or national network in order to cater to the information needs of its users, as, at times, information resources available with it may be inadequate to meet users’ needs?
  • maintains an accessible website and relies upon technologies for enhancing its services.
  • makes concerted efforts to provide services as and when users need, besides providing place-based services.
  • provides reference and user education programmes on a regular basis. It also conducts information literacy programmes for its users.
  • communicates and connects with the users on a regular basis, telling about its resources in order to attract them and ensure maximum usage of the resources.
  • offers free Internet access, high speed broadband, Wi-Fi facilities which are required by students, and research scholars for writing term paper, research activities, searching jobs, etc.
  • provides space to students and users for organizing exhibitions and community meetings. It offers “quiet zones” and spaces for group discussions.
  • is accessible and friendly to users with physical disabilities. It has an Assistive Technology Centre to enable visually- challenged users to access computer and Internet resources. It also provides information resources in alternate formats in order to help the users with print disabilities.
  • constantly evaluates its collections and services by gathering feedback from its user population, evolves and improves them in the light of the feedback received from the users.

Need for Modern Library Services

  • Libraries are continuously transforming themselves and evolving to survive. They do not have the luxury to choose, to change and evolve, but they have to survive and maintain their prominent position as centers of knowledge and learning. There are various reasons behind this social phenomenon. Technology has brought a revolutionary change in every sphere.
  • There is change in the information- seeking behavior of the users. Libraries have to change and adapt themselves in order to meet the information needs of the users. Libraries are supposed to provide information to the users as and when and in whatever format they need it. The new generation, which is popularly known as millennials or netizens, is more comfortable working in online environments.
  • The expectations and demands of the users have increased manifold. They are no longer content with place- based library services as they want information services beyond the four walls of the physical library.
  • If the libraries do not transform to provide new modern services as per the demands and expectations of the users, they risk slipping into extinction.

In short, we can say that modern library services are imperative because of the following reasons:

  • Change in information seeking behavior of users
  • Increased demands and expectations of the users
  • Availability of technology which facilitates availability and accessibility.

Manual and Computerized Services

There are different methods of providing services in libraries which can be broadly grouped into two classes-manual and computerized services. These are discussed below.

Manual Services

Manual Services

There are many libraries which perform housekeeping and routine operations, which are repetitive in nature, manually. The services, which are provided or delivered to the users without using computers as an intermediary, are known as manual services. Whereas computerized services are offered by using computers as tools or intermediaries.