Computerisation of Management Systems - DOC

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					        Malaysian Journal of Library & Information Science, Vol.2, no.2, December 1997:37-43


                                   S.M. Zabed Ahmed
                               Md. Nasir Uddin Munshi
                                  Minhaj Uddin Ahmed
                       Department of Library and Information Science
                                   University of Dhaka


Examines the state of library computerisation in Bangladesh. Presents efforts made by
different bodies and institutions in the country to automate their library operations and
discloses problems faced by the libraries, which succeeded in automating some of their
functions. Provides suggestions as to how libraries can adopt new computer technologies
in order to improve their functions and services to users.

Keywords: Computerisation; Automation; Libraries; Information Centres; Bangladesh

            INTRODUCTION                                    METHODOLOGY

Computers are reshaping the modern               Personal interview and visits to libraries
world and even in Bangladesh the compu-          were undertaken to collect data on the ex-
ter is recognised as an effective tool in dif-   tent of computer applications and use in
ferent development sectors. Although Bang-       libraries in Bangladesh. In addition, data is
ladesh began using computers for com-            also collected from the Department of Pu-
putation and data processing in 1964, very       blic Libraries, Bangladesh Bureau of Edu-
little progress has been observed in the         cational Information and Statistics (BAN-
application of computers in libraries and        BEIS) and the University Grants Commis-
information centers between 1964 and 1997.       sion (UGC) to look at the computer uses
                                                 in public, college and university libraries.
This article reviews the extent of computer
applications in the libraries in Bangladesh.         THE USE OF COMPUTERS IN
The main objectives are: to look at the                     LIBRARIES
extent of computer use in libraries func-
tions and services; problems hindering li-       Libraries in Bangladesh have realised the
brary computerisation; and future plans. In      value and importance of computerisation
addition, the article recommends ways to         in order to improve their services to users.
improve libraries’ chances to adopt new          Even though computer systems have been
computer technologies in order to improve        introduced since 1964 to government de-
their functions and services to users.           partments and the private sectors, libra-
ries have only begun to use computers by        capital city of the country. Table 1 indi-
the beginning of the 1980s. The Interna-        cates that 7 government university libra-
tional Center for Diarrhoeal Disease            ries, 3 private university libraries, 1 public
Research, Bangladesh (ICDDR, B) library         library and 20 special libraries are using
and the Agricultural Information Center         computers. The application of computers
(AIC) are pioneers in creating bibliogra-       in these libraries is still limited, less than
phic databases on specialised fields using      optimal and at an experimental level. It
microcomputers (Khan, 1989). Recently,          was also noted that none of the college
other libraries have installed microcompu-      libraries were automated.
ters to automate and manage library
activities and functions as well as to create   In Bangladesh, computers are used in li-
bibliographic databases. Table 1 shows the      braries mainly for creating bibliographic
number of libraries by type and percen-         databases and word processing. Table 2
tages of computer installation in the libra-    indicates the list of operations automated
ries of Bangladesh.                             amongst 31 libraries in Bangladesh.
     ASSESSMENT OF FINDINGS                     It should be noted here that most libraries
Analysis of the data collected from the         in Bangladesh, which use computers in
field visits to libraries along with data ga-   their operations and services, have been
thered from the Department of Public            using the IBM PCs or their compatibles
Libraries, UGC and BANBEIS shows that           and CDS/ISIS (Computerised Documen-
only 31 libraries in Bangladesh use com-        tation System/Integrated Set of Informa-
puters in their operations and these libra-     tion Systems) software in creating biblio-
ries are concentrated mostly in Dhaka, the      graphic databases.

                Table 1: Libraries and The Use of Computers in Bangladesh

Type of Library                   Total          Installation of           Percentage

University (Public)                 11                   7                     63.63
University (Private)                17                   3                     17.64
College (Government)               173                   0                      0.00
Public (Government)                 66                   1                      0.22
Special                            125                 20                      16.00

                                                 Computerisation of Libraries in Bangladesh

Table 2: Types of Library Operations            are seen as a mirror of the country’s
          Computerised                          general economy. Bangladesh have an
                                                annual per capita income of $230 com-
   Operations          Libraries with           pared to $3,520 for Malaysia in 1994
                       Computerised             (Asian Development Bank, 1995). Conse-
                         Processes              quently the most chronic problem which
                                                libraries face is the constant shortage of
Serials Control               1                 funds as well as libraries are often exclu-
                                                ded in the process of financing for auto-
Book Ordering                 1                 mation. Sometimes the parent organisation
Cataloguing                  26                 allocates funds for the purchase of a com-
Current Aware-                2                 puter, but not for its maintenance.
ness & Selective
Dissemination                                   (b) Lack of Technically Trained Staff
of Information
CD-ROM                        6                 Library personnel in Bangladesh in gene-
Search                                          ral have inadequate knowledge about the
E-mail                        3                 potential of computers and its exploitation
                                                in library and information work. The lack
                                                of suitably trained library staff in compu-
                                                ters and their use in libraries hindered the
                                                way of computerisation of the libraries.
                                                Some library staff are not professionally
                                                trained in library and information science
                                                and therefore lacked the knowledge of
Computerisation of libraries in Bangladesh
                                                using computers in libraries due to the
is still in infancy. A number of problems
                                                unavailability or inaccessibility of com-
contribute to the low level of computer
                                                puters in library and information science
utilisation in the libraries in Bangladesh.
From the field visits and personal inter-
views of librarians and information specia-
                                                (c) Psychological Factors
lists, who had automation related expe-
rience, a number of problems were iden-         It is acknowledged that there is resistance
tified. Not all the problems discussed be-      from the library personnel because they
low were mentioned by all individuals in-       are not aware of library computerisation.
terviewed but everything that was men-          There is fear of the unknown and feelings
tioned has been included.                       that computer use would result in the re-
                                                trenchment of a large number of employed
(a) Lack of Funds                               staff.

Lack of funds was the most common cited         (d) Standardisation Problems
problem and reflects the difficult financial
problems of the country in general and the      Another major problem hinted at is that
libraries in particular. The library finances   computerisation efforts of different libra-

ries appear individualized. Every library      will be equipped with a “network server”
approaches the task in its own way and         and a number of microcomputers distri-
there is lack of co-operation. Bangladesh      buted in a local area network (LAN) with-
have no national models or standards for       in the library and faculty buildings of the
the libraries to follow. Some systems have     university. The system will be used for
been created without the essential infra-      creating bibliographic databases, control-
structure and without due regard to inter-     ling acquisition, cataloguing and serials,
library compatibility.                         effecting bar-coded circulation, reserva-
                                               tion and recall systems, current awareness
 (h) Under-utilisation                         services (CAS), selective dissemination of
                                               information (SDI) services and online lite-
Another problem hinted with computer           rature searches of the national and inter-
installations in most libraries is under-      national databases through CD-ROM and
utilisation. In some libraries the computer    also via the internet. It will also have full
is essentially used in low-level jobs,         management module towards budget con-
replacing mainly clerical work. The main       trol and management information (Alam,
causes of under-utilisation are purchasing     1996).
without proper planning and little consi-
deration to meet both present and future       (2) The Department of Public Libraries
needs.                                         which is already computerised revealed its
                                               future plans to purchase 17 more PCs for
Some of the problems discussed above           10 divisional and district level public
revealed a lack of awareness or familiarity    libraries and to create and maintain a com-
with developments in the computer field.       plete list of books available in government
The cost of computer system has fallen         public libraries. The libraries at divisional
drastically, its power, speed and capabi-      and district levels will be networked with
lities have risen sharply, thus enhancing      the Central Public Library at Dhaka (Bang-
their cost justification and applications.     ladesh, Dept. of Public Libraries, 1997).
There are small computer systems current-
ly available for a cost less than the annual   (3). The Ministry of Science and Tech-
cost of one clerical worker (Shell and         nology, Bangladesh has initiated a project
Damachi, 1984).                                entitled “Automation and networking of
                                               Science and Technology Libraries in
            FUTURE PLANS                       Bangladesh”. The Bangladesh National
                                               Scientific and Technical Documentation
The future plans for library compu-
                                               Center (BANSDOC), an organisation of
terisation in Bangladesh are as follows:
                                               the Ministry of Science and Technology is
(1) Dhaka University Library, which is the     the executing agency of the project. The
largest library in Bangladesh with a col-      proposed “Bangladesh National Scientific
lection of more than 500,000 books, is         and Library Information Network (BANS-
now planning to acquire the Q series TIN-      LINK) will be implemented in the follow-
LIB Library Software. The system               ing three phases (Rahman, 1994):

                                                Computerisation of Libraries in Bangladesh

Phase 1 (1st year): In this phase, the         To create technically trained manpower
housekeeping functions of the following        the Department of Library and Information
libraries and documentation centers in         Science of the University of Dhaka has
Dhaka will be automated first and these        already introduced practical courses in
include:                                       computer applications in libraries from the
                                               academic session 1996-97 (University of
(a) BANSDOC (as the central host)              Dhaka, Dept. of LIS, 1996). At present the
(b) Dhaka University Library                   Department is equipped with microcom-
(c) Bangladesh University of Engineering       puters and planning to provide a wide
    and Tehnology Library                      range of computer facilities for the stu-
(d) Bangladesh Council of Scientific and       dents including full-fledged personal com-
    Industrial Research (BCSIR) Library        puter laboratory with multi-media and
(e) AEC Library                                Internet facilities. The Department of Li-
(f) AIC Library                                brary and Information Science of Rajshahi
(g) Institute of Post-graduate Medicine        University has also introduced computer
    and Research (IPGMR) Library               training courses to students.
(h) National Health Library and Docu-
    mentation Center (NHLDC)
Phase II (2nd Year): In this phase, the
above mentioned libraries and documen-         The following suggestions are put forward
tation centers will be networked.              for the proper and acceptable use of com-
Phase III (3rd Year): In this phase, the       puters by libraries in Bangladesh.
following libraries outside Dhaka will be
automated:                                     (1). The government of Bangladesh should
(a) Rajshahi University Library, Rajshahi      allocate sufficient funds to support the
(b) Chittagong University Library, Chitta-     purchasing and maintenance of computer
    gong                                       systems by libraries. Tax and VAT on
(c) Bangladesh Agricultural University Li-     computer systems and computer accesso-
    brary, Mymensing                           ries should be withdrawn initially for 5
(d) Jahangirnagar University Library, Sa-      years if the country wants to encourage
    var, Dhaka                                 greater automation of processes in the next
(e) Shahjalal Science and Technology Uni-      century.
    versity Library, Sylhet and
                                               (2). Any computerisation project of the
(f) Khulna University Library, Khulna.
                                               university libraries in Bangladesh should
The participating libraries are already pro-   be a joint exercise between the libraries
vided with computer systems required to        and the computer centres of the respective
participate in the network. BANSDOC has        universities. This is necessary owning to
prepared a BANSLINK/CCF data entry             the cost involved and the readily available
form for the participating libraries.          expertise at the centers.

(3). Library and information science            (7). Libraries should also develop a centra-
schools should develop special training         lised database to include all documents
programmes for library staff on the use of      and sources of information available in the
computers in libraries and organise special     country in order to support scientific re-
advanced training courses for professional      search and studies, and to provide deci-
librarians on the use of computers in           sion-makers easy access to needed infor-
libraries.                                      mation. Such a database is needed to be
                                                linked with other international networks.
(4). Librarians should convince adminis-
trators at the higher level, in the impor-      (8). The library associations of Bangladesh
tance of the use of computers, to develop a     should organise seminars and workshops,
level of awareness at the administrators’       to create awareness among librarians about
level sufficient to encourage them to use       the potential advantage of automation and
the computer in libraries and to convince       thus encourage more libraries to automate
officials that automation will improve the      their processes.
effectiveness of information services and
access to information which they need for                    CONCLUSION
decision making.
                                                It is a recognised fact that the coming
(5). Computerised systems are dynamic ra-       century is going to rely heavily upon in-
ther than static. So it is important in plan-   formation. The libraries will, therefore,
ning for computerisation, that hardware         have to play an increasingly important role
and software be selected which are suffi-       in functioning as information servers. To
ciently flexible to meet both the present       play this role more effectively and effi-
and future needs. The hardware chosen           ciently in order to meet challenges of the
must have the capacity to handle growth of      21st century, modern information techno-
the system for at least three to five years.    logies must be introduced in their services
The software chosen must also be flexible       without any delay. Individual efforts
enough to accommodate additions and/ or         should be replaced by a coordinated and
changes to the system as need arises            collective national effort. Otherwise uni-
(Johnson, 1989).                                formity in matters like the use of appli-
                                                cation software, networking systems, bi-
(6). Libraries with the help of software de-    bliographic descriptions, etc. will become
velopment firms should try to develop           impossible.
software packages for the use of compu-
ters in Bangladeshi libraries in general and                 REFERENCES
to make the best use of the available ready
                                                Alam, Fazlul. 1996. Dhaka University
-made software for libraries, provided they
                                                   automation of the library (DUAL): an
are capable of solving the local needs.
                                                   appraisal report and proposals for
They should also develop a standardised
                                                   action. Dhaka: University of Dhaka.
thesaurus in Bengali language for the use
of computer system employed in the libra-       Asian Development Bank. 1995. Annual
ries in Bangladesh.                                report. Manila: ADB.

                                              Computerisation of Libraries in Bangladesh

Bangladesh. Department of Public Li-         Rahman, Lutfur. 1994. Automation and
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