3.2.1     National Efforts

          3.2.2     Networks in India

          3.2.3     Present Scenario of Library Networking in India   






Libraries are storehouses of information and knowledge. In this modern world, access to information holds the key to development.

The rapid and exponential growth of information has made it necessary for librarians and information scientists to employ new techniques to cope with the massive proliferation of literature in all subjects fields Research in the science and social sciences has led to high productivity in document publications. To bring this vast amount of information under bibliographic control and to render it useful and accessible to potential users is a task of great magnitude which the information people face. So through the application of communication techniques and electronic data processing, library and information centers have now begun to realize the need of computers and associated facilities as indispensable for steady and accurate storage, processing, retrieval and dissemination of information and above all sharing resources among libraries.

For libraries to use their resources more efficiently and effectively for the users is a great task. This task can be solved to a great extent by resource sharing and cooperative functioning among libraries. And for this, networking of libraries, applying latest modern techniques is a must.

In India, networking of libraries is even more necessary than in the developed nations. The important factors that may be considered for networking of resources (Libraries holding resources) in India are:

  1. It is not possible for all the organizations and agencies to design a system to cater to its resource needs because their main aim is to provide resources rather than designing the system for providing resources. So they have to purchase an appropriate latest system to cater to their needs. Generally, it is very difficult or rather impossible to find a system which could entirely satisfy its needs. In India, manually such technologies are purchased from abroad and afterwards people face a number of maintenance problems. So while opting for networking, annual hardware maintenance, some initial training is required.

  3. The cumulative collection of scientific serials held by many important libraries in India is quite poor when compared to USA, UK and other developed countries while in India, some libraries have a very good collection, the majority of libraries suffer from very inadequate collection. There is a great need to consider the entire resources of the country as a single entity that can be available to the entire user community of the country. Networking the libraries is the best way to make resource sharing very effective in order to ensure equitable availability of required information.

  5. Literature being generated as a result of research activities being carried out is doubling every five years. Over 10 million journal articles are published every year besides news items, editorials and articles appearing in popular print media. It is not possible for all the libraries and information centers to acquire all the bibliographic material at one place due to storage problem as well as paucity of funds. Even to maintain a reasonable level of acquisition of journals, books and reports, calls for heavy budgets in libraries. Therefore, networking with other institutions, libraries, information centers, etc. is easy and economical way to get what a particular center does not have in its capacity.

  7. Budget to the libraries/information centers/institutions and restriction on staffing has also forced institutes to opt for networking in the country and this is on the increasing trend. As for example, it is not possible to give a laser printer to each individual in many of the organizations, so best way to provide printing facilities to each of them is put the printer in the network and let all the computers users share it by way of networking operating system.
  8. Similar methods can be adopted to share other hardware resources like Modem, CD-ROM drive, etc.


  9. India is a vast country with caste, cultural and linguistic diversities. Planning for their development is done at the center only. Planning for such a big country by sitting in the capital requires an extremely fast flow of information from all parts of the country to the center. This can be done effectively by networking all the information centers in the states with the center. Poor infrastructure is a hindrance in this flow of information. With the introduction of better telecom facilities like optical fibers, satellite communication, powerful computer, this is likely to increase but still many parts of the country do not have these facilities.


Because of the above mentioned reasons, resource sharing and cooperative functioning through networking have become inescapable for libraries and information centers in this country.



3.2.1   National Efforts


There have been many attempts in the country in the last two decades in computer application to library and information activities. During last so many years, libraries and information centres have become more earnest to computerize their operations and services. While NISSAT (National Information System for Science & Technology) has been promoting an integrated approach in library automation in the country, the efforts have been by and large, at the institutional level. Some of the major organizations engaged in computerized information handling are:


Besides the above, University Grants Commission (UGC), Department of Electronics, Department of Telecommunication, Planning Commission and other various Departments of Government of India have also been engaged in establishing various networks. There are possibilities of mounting bibliographical databases on these networks for providing online access-to-access.

The growth of Indian Library Networks may be traced to the efforts made during the last forty years. The chronology is given below:




1958 Scientific Policy Resolution. It was adopted at the instance of Pt. Jawaharlal Nehru. It emphasized the fostering of scientific temper in people. In pursuance of this agenda, several committees and commissions were appointed to look into specific issues and come up with necessary recommendations.



Sinha Committee Report



Ranganathan Report to University Grants Commission (UGC)



V A Kamath Report



Establishment of NICNET by NIC (1975)



Technology Policy Statement. It emphasized the need for a technology information base.



Working group of the Planning Commission headed by Dr N Seshagiri recommended to the govt. the need for modernization of library services and information during Seventh Five Year Plan (1985-90)



NISSAT initiated the establishment of CALIBNET, Calcutta



The National Policy in Library and Information System submitted in 1988. It recommended using of information technology on a national level.



The UGC established INFLIBNET



NISSAT supported the establishment of DELNET, DELHI



NISSAT supported the establishment of ADINET, Ahmedabad.



INSDOC supported the formation of MALIBNET, Chennai.



NISSAT supported the establishment of MYLIBNET, Mysore



NISSAT supported the establishment of BALNET, Bangalore


Planning Commission Efforts

The Planning Commission, Government of India, has been taking considerable interest in library resource sharing and library networks. Its efforts in these areas have increased since the Seventh Five Year Plan covering 1985-90. The Commission appointed a working group on modernization of Library Services and Informatics in November, 1983. In July 1984, the working group submitted its report. It recommended among others, interlinking of library systems through library networks. This report was to be considered for the Seventh Plan.

The Commission appointed another Working Group which submitted its report in May, 1989. It again recommended among others interlinking of library systems in the country.

The Planning Commission appointed in Feb, 1995, a Core Task Group to prepare an approach paper for enhancing inputs of Science and Technology for library resource sharing.

The Commission again constituted a working group on Libraries and Informatics under the Department of Culture, Ministry of Human Resource Development, Govt. of India, which report was to be considered for the Ninth Plan for the period 1997-2002. The report of the Working Group of the Commission includes many important recommendations for the networking and modernization of libraries in the country.

All these initiatives by NISSAT, UGC, Planning Commission and other departments of Govt. of India have led to increased efforts to the establishment of library networks and library automation in the country.


3.2.2     Networks in India


Current computer Networks in India can be decided into three categories:


I. Networks connecting Educational and Research Institutions all over the country

    1. ERNET – Education and Research Network
    2. It was launched by the Department of Education (DOE), Govt. of India in late 1986 with financial assistance from UNDP (United Nationals Development Programme) to provide academic and research institutions with electronic mail facilities. It is currently used by DSIR Labs, research centres and academic institutions.

    3. SIRNET – Scientific and Industrial Research Network
    4. It was established by INSDOC in late 1989 to interconnect all the CSIR aboratories and other R&D institutions in India. Its main objective is to harness the vast S&T information resources available with national laboratories and inculcate the habit of resource sharing among themselves. Its ultimate aim is to link the entire scientific community of the nation with the national library system and the international links to achieve efficient scientific communication.

    5. OPNET – Open Education Network

Open University Network – Many institutions are venturing into the field of  education and are offering professional and technological courses by using communication technologies. They are using television, computer communication, email and network to reach the students. Indira Gandhi National Open University (IGNOU), which is an apex body for open and distance education, is engaged in the task of developing a network of open universities in India called OPNET. This is a network of physical, intellectual and academic resource organized under the aegis of the Distance Education Council (DEC), an independent arm of  IGNOU and distance education in India. All the open universities are partners of OPNET. The resources that are pooled together include academic programmes, norms and sharing programmes, delivery mechanisms and interactive software for student services. The OPNET will be an umbrella network with the subnet of every partner university for delivery of their own courses.


II. Networks connecting the libraries in the country

(a) INFLIBNET – established by UGC in 1988, operations began in 1991. It is a network of university and college libraries. It has also provided financial assistance to a large number of university libraries in India.

(b) CALIBNET – established by NISSAT in 1986. NISSAT decided to establish a network of scientific libraries in Calcutta. At a meeting in 1986 in Calcutta, DSIR initiated action for preparation of a feasibility study for networking about 40 libraries in Calcutta. CALIBNET was the first library network visualized. At present, it has now become the center for CD-ROM databases which are acquired from outside sources. Libraries can access these CDs. The basic purpose of the library network is to share the resources available in participating libraries. However, no resource sharing is done as there are no union catalogues prepared. This activity, is however, in progress.

(c) DELNET : established in 1988 by India International Center with the initial financial support of NISSAT and later officially registered as a society in June 1992. Its main objective is to promote sharing of resources among the libraries located in Delhi and outside Delhi. It is the first operational library network in India.

(d) MALIBNET – The need for interconnecting libraries and information centres in Chennai was visualized by INSDOC in 1991. INSDOC undertook a feasibility study which was completed in March 1992. MALIBNET was registered as a society in Chennai in Feb. 1993.

(e) PUNENET in Pune in 1992

                        ADINET in Ahmedabad in 1993

                        BONET in Mumbai in 1994

                        MYLIBNET in Mysore in 1994

                        BALNET in Bangalore in 1995


All these networks are supported by NISSAT. They have not, as yet, created their value added databases such as union catalogues, though work is in progress. They are, at present, mostly offering Email and CD-ROM facilities

III. Others


It was established by National Informatics Centre (NIC) in 1977 and started in the late 87’s. It was launched basically for getting and providing information from/to district levels to facilitate planning process. It links for regional nodes at Delhi, Pune, Bhubneswar and Hyderabad and has established 32 nodes at state and union territory levels and 439 nodes at district headquarters. By 1991, NICNET has achieved success in the creation of databases and networking. It also provides E-mail and other facilities to users using its already existing infrastructure.


India’s first data communication and computer network was started in March 1986 by CMC Ltd. It was launched as a solution to the growing need for providing timely well processed data to various institutions. In the First phase, they have mainly networked Mumbai, Calcutta and Chennai. Later, Delhi and Hyderabad were also linked as additional stations. INDONET presently has an international gateway which provides access to world wide pocket switched networks like USA’s Global Networks Systems (GNS) and Internet.


3.2.3     Present Scenario of Library Networking in India


The present status of library networking in India is that most of the libraries covered by some network are creating databases of their holdings and in automating the library activities. Generally, the periodical holdings are attempted first in building up the databases as it takes less time than for the other types of library documents. This is followed by the databases of holdings of books, reports, dissertations, standards, etc. The Library Network Centres, i.e., the coordinating agencies of the networks also are concentrating on acquiring them to provide the user with access to the total records. They provide such access either by email or online through the telephone network. In addition, these centres also try to provide a common software for database development and automation of library activities and services.

Table below gives the details of status of some important library networks in the country.


Yea of


Promoting Agency

Whether registered as a society

Database development & other activities






  • Library holding database in progress
  • Library automation in progress
  • Training programme
  • Database of current periodicals in member libraries






  • Activity will start after getting financial support from NISSAT






  • Online union catalogue of periodicals
  • Online request system for ILL
  • E-mail and Internet access
  • Online searching of foreign database
  • Database on computer and as are software
  • CD-ROM database searching
  • Database of contents of Indian periodicals
  • Software for OPAC







  • Library automation in progress
  • Access to Internet and Dialog
  • CD-ROM database searching





Society, NIC & NISSAT


  • Books database
  • Multi-lingual book database
  • E-mail service
  • Union list of current periodicals
  • Database of Indian specialists
  • Online searching of foreign databases






  • Union catalogue of 50,000 records
  • Database of periodicals (30,000 records)
  • Contents with Abstract Services (COPSAT)
  • Training programme for university library staff




Society & INSDOC


  • Current serials database
  • Journal contents database (1,00,000) records
  • All INSDOC databases on MALIBNET
  • Automative engineering database (4,500 records)
  • Access to Internet and Knight Ridder (Dialog) database
  • CD-ROM database searching




Society, Mysore Library Consotium & NISSAT


  • Library automation in progress








However, this scenario networks doesn’t provide a growth of ideal library networks in India.

From the above table, it can be seen that except DELNET and INFLIBNET, most of the other library networks have yet to develop databases of library holdings in a significant way. Even these two networks have to go a long way, to cover in their databases, the entire holdings of all the participating libraries. Unless this is achieved, the networks would not be able to achieve significant resource sharing as well as rationalization in library acquisitions. Most of the networks are, however, making efforts towards this end by conducting training programmes for the staff of the participating libraries in data capturing, database development and automation of library activities and services.


Networking of Public libraries

The public libraries in the west have developed into a true community information and reference systems with such computerized data access and facilities for providing a variety of information to the general public from housing and social security to legal and medical aid and temperature and travel schedule.

In India, development of public libraries has not been a priority and their growth as a result has been uneven. Public libraries which could serve as the backbones of literacy mission, suffer for want of adequate funds, trained staff, modern equipment, good and adequate collections, proper reading rooms and stacking and user facilities. In order to provide to the public, access to the latest information and educate them, public libraries have to be technologically advanced so that they have access to INTERNET and international databases and networks.

According to UNESCO public library Manifesto 1994 (Revised)

"The public library acts as a living force for education, culture and information and as an essential agent for the fostering of peace and spiritual welfare through the minds of men and women"

The Manifesto recommends that

"The public library network must be designed in relation to national, regional, research and special libraries as well as libraries in schools, colleges and universities".

So there is a need to establish a public library network which is in conformity with the other networks in the country. Due to lack of up-d-date, actual number of public libraries could not be ascertained, however, nearly about 60,000 exist in the country. They can’t be called libraries in the real sense as most of them are simply reading rooms. Most of them are without computers and the librarians working in the distances in general, are not conversant with the application of computers in libraries. Training of library staff in the computer applications for library operations and services becomes one of the basic requirements of automation and networking.

In the rural areas, as rural settlement are generally scattered and their libraries are neither up-to-date nor well staffed. Since the level of users is not of a high standing and also various problems in information infrastructure, it is not possible in the first phase to connect rural libraries with the public libraries network for networking purposes. However, with the wide use of telecommunication technology, it is possible for institution located in remote area to join the network.

Therefore, we notice that if the public libraries are to really reach the public and achieve the status of national network system, the adaptation of new sophisticated techniques and technologies is a highly important pre-requisite. We must change with the times and learn from the latest trends in the west. For this, we have to develop the infrastructure of public libraries and give attention to the manpower development, training given in the use of computers, AACR-II, use of MARC format Library Congress subject headings, handling of software, etc. and use of electronic mail and INTERNET.























Copyright © 2001 Pawan Kumar Jha. All rights reserved.
October, 2001
Hauz Khas,New Delhi-110016

Note: The Dissertation is based on the sources mentioned in the "References"