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KNOWLEDGE POWER

For all you passionate readers who rate the smell of books over every other scent in the world, making a library your world is definitely worth considering. If you hate it when a book isnít where it should be or are fond of cataloguing information so you know exactly where to find what, your skills are highly in demand. With a career in library and information management, you could influence research methods and scholarsí approach to information.

Libraries are centres for knowledge of any sort, from history to fiction. They are used for research, reference and leisure with books, slides, videos and CDs on a variety of things. It is therefore absolutely necessary that all the information they hold is easily accessible and thatís why library management is so essential.

All the resource material is systematically catalogued and arranged by librarians who are basically information managers. The role of a librarian has changed from being a custodian of books to that of an expert on information. Just like everything else, libraries have also developed a lot over the years and now that the entire system is computerised, all information can be compiled electronically.

What do I have to do?

Librarians not only classify, catalogue and document information but also guide readers, researchers and teachers identify the material they are looking for. They have to keep abreast of current events and all news and decide how much of the library’s budget can be spent on all such subscriptions. When new material comes in, it must be catalogued and made available to library users. Librarians are also expected to deal with inquiries, some of which can take weeks of research. They usually depend on computers to do a regular search on literature and any online news services.

The latest in information management is digital content where journals and books are available on the Internet and can be read by several people simultaneously. Library catalogues can now be searched all over the world.

When the requested material is not in their own library, librarians try to arrange inter-library loans while maintaining bibliographical databases.

Some typical tasks include identifying, selecting, ordering and managing both hard and electronic copies of all the organisationís information needs; classifying and storing information for easy access and retrieval; and answering enquiries from a client or institution. You would also be developing internal information resources and networks (knowledge management), and writing reports, publications and website content. The supervision and training of all information staff will also be part of your job.

What should I study?

Professional training is necessary for a librarian or information manager because of the technical nature of the work and also because special qualifications are a pre-requisite for promotion. The selection of candidates is based on merit and some institutions hold admission tests. For the bachelor in library and information science (BLISc) course, you should be a graduate in any discipline with at least 50 per cent marks. For the masters in library and information science (MLISc), you should have a bachelors in library and information science.

The syllabus for BLISc includes library and society, library management, library classification theory, library classification practice, library cataloguing theory and practice, reference and information sources as well as the basics of information technology. The syllabus for MLISc includes information, communication and society, information sources, systems and services, information processing and retrieval, management of library and information centres, and fundamentals of information communication technology.

What next?

Library and information managers are always in demand in a wide range of organisations including the central and local government, public libraries, the health service, education, media, financial and legal sectors and NGOs.

Trained library professionals can find work in information centres and cultural organisations. Those with entrepreneurial abilities can start libraries for children or even operate mobile libraries. Library professionals can also diversify into teaching library and information sciences, information services, information technology in research institutions, printing and publishing, editorial work and documentation.

Remuneration depends on your qualifications and the organisation you join. A masters degree will get you a better job with a higher pay scale in research organisations like the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) or the Indian Council for Agricultural Research (ICAR). However, in order to join a college or university as a librarian, you need to pass the UGC NET.

 

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