Efforts Of Dr. S. R. Ranganathan For Public Library Legislation And Service- A Review

Dr. Shiyali Ramamrita Ranganathan was a visionary who realized the importance of library legislation for the promotion and development of library movement in India. He was a far-sighted person fully devoted to the cause of library and information science. He was fully aware regarding the role of libraries in the enhancement of education in any society. He understood the impact of educational advancement for the development of country and the effectiveness and utility of libraries to promote education.

In 1924, Dr. S. R. Ranganathan visited a number of public libraries during his stay in United Kingdom. These visits enabled him to study the system, functioning, funding and services of various libraries. As a consequence he was convinced that library legislation alone would provide a systematic, well-knit and efficient public library service. Since public libraries are informal agencies of education, therefore it is obligatory for a welfare state to provide, maintain and develop a network of public libraries to meet the needs of the masses. A public library being essential a peoples’ institution is to be maintained out of public funds, which have to be collected most equitably. Only the government has got the power and authority to impose and collect taxes through legal sanction, hence library legislation is essential to collect the library cess. Thus it is apparent that it is imperative for the government to enact library legislation for the establishment and smooth functioning of a network of public libraries to cater to the educational needs of the general public.

Dr. S. R. Ranganathan was the first person in India who ever thought about the need for library legislation in 1925 after returning to India from England. He drafted a ‘Model Library Act’ and presented it for discussion at the First All Asia Educational Conference, which was held in Banaras on 27-30 December 1930. The participants of the conference were fully convinced with the advantages of draft legislation and the views of Dr. S. R. Ranganathan. This ‘Model Library Act’ was published by the Madras Library Association during the year 1936. He later on amended the draft Act twice- once in 1957 and again in 1972. This Model Library Act was introduced in the shape of Bill in the Madras Assembly in 1933, through Mr. Basher Ahmed Sayeed, the member of the Assembly an enthusiast of public library system.

Salient features of Dr. S. R. Ranganathan’s Model Library Act are: –

Except the Kerala Public Libraries Act, 1989, all the Acts, which have passed in India during the years 1948 to 1990, have the influenced of Model Public Libraries Act drafted by Dr. S. R. Ranganathan.

Dr. S. R. Ranganathan made persistent efforts for getting the library Acts passed by various States in India and dreamt of having it a land of libraries. He prepared a number of Model Bills for various States. Following is a list of them: –

He also prepared a Model Union Library Bill in 1948 and redrafted it in 1957.

India got the first Public Library Act through the ceaseless efforts of Dr. S. R. Ranganathan. For the first time the Public Library Act was passed by the Madras Legislature in 1948. There is an interesting story behind the success of getting the Library Bill enacted in the third attempt in 1946 although the two attempts made earlier had failed. The first attempt was made by Janab Basher Ahmed Sayeed when he introduced the Bill in Madras Legislature in 1933 but it could not get through as the Madras Legislature was dissolved in 1935. A second attempt was made in 1938 but later on the World War-II began and the Bill could not be adopted. In 1946, Mr. Avinashalingam Chettiar, who was an old student of Dr. S. R. Ranganathan, became the Education Minister in Madras State. One day, Dr. S. R. Ranganathan took a copy of the Model Library Act and went to meet the Minister at his house after his usual morning walk. The Minister was surprised to see his “Guru” early in the morning and enquired about the purpose of his visit. Dr. S. R. Ranganathan replied that he came to demand his “Gurudakshina”. When the Minister promised to offer the same, Dr. S. R. Ranganathan gave a copy of Model Act and expressed his wish to have it enacted into a law during his tenure as Minister. Mr. Avinashalingam Chettiar piloted the Bill and got it enacted in 1948.

School Library Provision and Services in Sierra Leone

Introduction

Harrod’s (2000), defined school library as an organized collection of books placed in a school for the use of teachers and pupils, but usually for pupils. It may comprise books of reference and or books for home reading and in the care of a professional librarian, or teacher-librarian. It is variously call “Instructional Materials Centre”, “Learning Centre or Media centre.”

The School library serves as a service agency which supports the schools’ objectives and provides materials for all subjects and all interest of pupils and teachers. The school library is a supportive resource of the school curriculum, its provisions, services, and development is directed at aiding school programmes (Kinnel, 1994).

Libraries generally have as their main purpose acquiring, processing, storing and disseminating information to which school library is not an exception. The school library has a vital role to play in the information service. They provide materials relevant to the curricular needs of everybody with the school community. The importance of providing such resources cannot be overemphasized if the school library is to be an instigator of and support for resource based learning in the school.

Also, in relation to information skills, the library and its librarian, make available materials and services in different varieties to allow both pupils and the school community to use these skills in finding the information they need.

The purpose and philosophy of school library service are rapidly being understood and accepted by school administrators and teachers. The fact necessitates that the school librarian be thoroughly familiar with those purposes such as guidance, the reading programme and the enrichment programme for pupils and teachers. However, Albert Academy library has no trained and qualified librarian, who understands and performs those purposes in order to ensure that the service provision is fully attained.

Albert Academy School Library

The Albert Academy was inaugurated on the 4th October 1904. It was until 1975 when the Albert Academy Alumni Association in their meeting thought it wise that such a reputable institution must not go without a library as the development of school libraries was at its highest peak at that time. An idea to erect a library building was born with the collaboration of the alumni association and the owners of the school that is the United Methodist Church. The library was established with the aim of having a place where pupils could go and explore new ideas to further strengthen their school curriculum activities and leisure as well.

The library was officially opened to the entire school community by His Excellency the late Dr. Siaka P. Stevens on 4th October 1976, then President of the Republic of Sierra Leone and also a member of the Albert Academy Alumni Association class of 1922. The library was named after him following the immense contribution he made towards establishing the library for the school community. The Albert Academy Library has a mission to “Support school curriculum activities by providing materials of relevance in the school process and to introduce new and improved information sources to help make the school to be in line with modern standards of education.”

The objectives of the Albert Academy school library are as follows:

I. To provide pupils with library materials and services most appropriate and most meaningful in their growth and development;

ii. To participate fully in school programmes as it strikes to meet the needs of pupils, teachers, parents and others community members;

iii. to stimulate and guide pupils in all phases of their reading that they may find increasing enjoyment and satisfaction and may grow in critical judgment and appreciation;

iv. To make available new development and keep pupils abreast of modern trends in education recognize reader’s needs and keeping them well informed in order to create a well dynamic educational environment;

v. To work with the teacher in the selection and production of educational materials that meet the aims of the curriculum, offer guidance in the use of collection, evaluation of education programmes and materials, facilitates the location, organisation and maintenance of materials efficiently; and

vi. To help pupils to become skilled users of libraries and of printed and audio-visual materials.

Library Provision at Albert Academy School Library

A major role in the information service provided by modern school library is in the provision of materials relevant to the curricular needs of pupils and teachers. In recent years, the curriculum activities have moved to another level, where the school being supportive resource of this movement, must endeavor to house a variety of print and non-print materials and have access where possible to electronic sources of information which are also part of the information resources in the library.

Given the demands of the modern school curriculum, the school library must now house a wide variety of print and non-print materials and have access, where possible, to electronic sources of information. The Albert Academy School provides printed materials, book, fiction and non-fiction as well as pamphlets, newspapers, chart, pictures, monographs, manuals, handbooks, textbooks and other reference books the library also provides non-books materials which include audio and audio-visual materials, slides, tape-slides, video cassettes, and CD ROM’s. Although these are not materials in the traditional sense, they still constitute resources for use by pupils and teachers. Use of electronic sources help school libraries to present pupils and teachers with a concept of a School Information Centre which is not continued to the school but is a link to an unending supply of information (Herring, 1988).

Albert Academy School Library Services

The purpose of establishing Albert Academy School Library is to provide services for both pupils and teachers in a bid to fulfill one of its major purposes, which is to aid curriculum goals by providing services that are indispensably linked to the fulfillment of this purpose.

One of the principal services of the Albert Academy School library is to act as back-up to the under resourced school programme. Even advanced countries cannot easily stock materials ranging from five thousand (5,000) to twenty thousand (20,000) in a small room to provide help to school programmes. Therefore, they see the need for central stock of materials which can be borrowed for differing lengths of time (lending service) and also for reading and consultation services. This is done in order to augment the school curriculum at the Albert Academy which is inclusive of the Basic Sciences and Technology, Social Sciences, Humanities and the Fine Arts.

Albert Academy School library also provides inter-library loan services requests. This is particularly valuable to senior pupils studying topics across subjects offered in depth. Pupils who cannot afford to purchase or access such expensive materials benefit from this type of library service. Through inter-library loan services, materials are sourced from other schools libraries for the benefit of both pupils and teachers.

A reference service is also provided at Albert Academy School library. The School Librarians spend a sizeable proportion of their time providing what in other libraries term would be termed as reference service. In providing a reference service, school Librarians perform a similar role to that of other librarians. In a reference interview in school, each pupil is treated as important as the other and given the Librarian’s full attention. This is achieved by personal assistance given to the pupils and teachers in finding specific information whether direct or indirect. Some of the reference materials at the Albert Academy School Library are dictionaries, encyclopedias, directories, yearbooks, biographies newspapers, maps and charts, and the academic and administrative calendar of events or the operation of the school.

One of the most valuable services provided by Albert Academy School library is that of information provision. The Albert Academy School library keeps the teachers and pupils informed about new educational resources and development in the fields of interest to them by displaying the jackets of books that just arrived. The Albert Academy School library uses Current Awareness Services (CAS) to achieve this goal. This is done by identifying the information needs of both teachers and pupils and meeting these needs. Linked to the CAS is the Selective Dissemination of Information (SDI) and this is more particular with teachers. This ranges from keeping individual teachers informed about new resources in the library or about newly published materials, to alerting teachers to meetings and course demands or event linked to their curricular interest.

Challenges of Library Provision and Services at the Albert Academy School Library

No matter what an organisation has to count as success, is bound to face certain difficulties that stand before it as challenges to its success. School Libraries in Sierra Leone, especially Albert Academy School Library are not without challenges.

To start with the library and its resources have been ignored by the pupils and teachers. Despite their all-important nature of service provision in support to them they do not see it as a valuable part of their activities. This is because most teachers and pupils do not get adequate supply of textbooks and other materials directly linked to the curriculum programme and most teachers prepare pamphlets for sale to pupils from which there teaching is based. This has caused most of the pupils to heavily depend on those sources instead of the library resources.

The School Library has a staffing challenge. For example the Albert Academy School Library has no professional library staff to handle an information service for over two thousand pupils and teachers.

Furthermore, the library has a challenge with space. The space provided for the library from inception is now not enough for the school. The school population in terms of teachers and pupils has grown relatively high to over two thousand (2000) pupils and staff as compared to the space provided for a little over Five hundred (500) pupils and staff about 40 years ago. It has become difficult to access the library and its resources.

In addition, there is a funding problem. The Albert Academy School Library is faced with the difficultly of securing funds from the schools authorities for an effective collection development. The library depends heavily on donations and gifts to stock its collection and most of these materials given in this guise are not reflective of the courses offered in the school curriculum. Often, the school administration has to spread meager financial resources across a wide spectrum of school needs.

The establishment of the computer laboratory with slight internet facilities independent of the school library has also created a problem for the Albert Academy School Library. The teachers and pupils would prefer to visit the Computer centre for Internet services much more that visiting the library. The separation of the Internet facilities from the library services has posed a serious threat to the library provision and services.

Also, it is quite proven that the Albert Academy School Library lacks the capacity to provide for the visually impaired or handicapped. The absence of school library materials in the Braille format prevents blind and the partially sighted pupils to utilize the available library resources in their schools libraries.

Final, the issue of preservation of library materials is not a common practice for the Albert Academy School. This preservation is supposed to ensure that the materials last long because of their frequent use. It has become difficult to access funds to preserve materials that are under threat of wearing out through continuous use.

Despite some gloomy predictions on the future funding of education and possible restrictions on the availability of resources at the Albert Academy School Library, the future of the school library seems assured. It can be argued that because of current educational and technological trends, there has never been a greater need for well-resourced and professionally staffed school library than it is now. The emphasis on the individual’s-the child’s and the adult’s-ability to find and use information effectively is likely to continue in schools, at work and for leisure pursuits. A future society dependent on electronic information for its prosperity will need an information curriculum in its schools. Hence the availability of good school library provision and services in the school curriculum cannot be overemphasised (Kargbo, 2000).

Online Library Science Degrees – What It Takes

The knowledge to maintain information resources is a skill that requires a degree. Students seeking careers as librarians will find that online education is available. Accredited online colleges and universities provide information on what it takes to obtain online library science degrees that teach students the skills for their desired career.

The education to become a librarian is very specific and students have to meet the training requirements in order to successfully enter a career. Library science is concerned with correctly managing information by specifically organizing and disseminating resources. Training in online library science degree programs is focused and prepares students for professional work.

In order to step into a career as a librarian a master degree has to be obtained. Education approaches the skill set needed from a technological and information management standpoint. With the new ways of acquiring information available students are taught to understand databases and information structure. The field is broken down into numerous concentrations. For example, students that want to work in a government library would find an online school that offers a specialization in that area. The broad scope of possibilities teaches students how information is collected and disbursed in each field. A medical library catalogs and stores their information differently than a public library. Students can expect to take the same basic courses online, which may include:

  • Archival Practices
  • Information Access
  • Information Technology
  • Library Services

Education is centered on preparing students to enter the workplace and understand how to manage their chosen information facility. Through coursework students learn the Dewey Decimal system and know how to electronically locate resources. Masters degree programs on average take two to three years depending on the college offering the program.

Students that haven’t completed undergraduate training have a couple options available. They can train for a lower-level position or prepare themselves for graduate training at the master’s degree level. A two-year associate’s degree teaches how to step into support positions such as a library assistant or library technician. Education focuses on giving students the skills to prepare and organize materials. The day-to-day work of an assistant is learned, which includes inputting data, overseeing the circulation desk, and cataloguing material. Further study at the bachelor’s degree level is also available.

Students that complete a library bachelor’s degree program study administration while taking courses that focus on their particular area of interest such as military or medical. Literature studies, media selections, management tools, and database functions are all general subjects that students study in an online program.

The field of library science takes a master’s degree for students that have the career goal of being a librarian. Numerous educational avenues can be pursued that allow students to start the process of becoming a librarian. Students should enter the level of education right for them and learn the skills needed in library science. Accredited training is approved by agencies like the American Library Association ( http://www.ala.org/ ) to offer quality educational experiences.

DISCLAIMER: Above is a GENERIC OUTLINE and may or may not depict precise methods, courses and/or focuses related to ANY ONE specific school(s) that may or may not be advertised at PETAP.org.

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