Virtual Reality (VR) is an illusive environment for
the eyes, ears and other sense organs where user can experience the real world
in an artificially created environment by the computer system. It is a state of
real sensational feeling in an imaginary environment. The environment is so
perfectly created and highly stimulated that one can experience just like a
real situation but with a full control over the environment.
a) Definition: Virtual Library refers to the scientifically managed
collection of information resources and services on site as well as off site
that are available in a virtual reality environment and accessible
electronically through the internet at any time from any geographical
location.Such type of library only exists in the networked environment, without
the physical existence of books or journals on the shelves.
Kay Gapen’s (1994) defines the
Virtual Library as “The concept of remote access to the content and services of
libraries and other information resources combining an onsite collection of
current and heavily used material in both print and electronic form, with an
electronic network that provide access to and delivery from external World Wide
library and commercial information and knowledge sources.”
Powell (1994) defines Virtual
Library as “It is a library with little or no physical presence of books,
periodicals, reading space or support staff, but are that disseminate selective
information directly to distribute library customers, usually electronically.”
An electronic library may or may
not be virtual. Eg. If the holding of a library is available in CD ROM, DVD
ROM, etc. and these resources only can be accessed through a stand alone
computer but not through the internet or WAN, then it is termed as electronic
library and not as virtual library. Further the VL set up should give an
illusive environment of the real library world.
of Virtual Library: The main characteristics of Virtual Library are as
sources should be stored in 3 D format, electronically.
staff should be able to work in the library from any geographical location.
Services such as union catalogue, OPAC, CAS, SDI, etc should be available at
the user desktop, itself.
resources should be accessible over Internet with effective Searching, Browsing
and Navigation options.
v) The library
should be integrated with Bulletin Board, Blog, Email, Voice Mail, E-List,
Audio Conferencing, Video Conferencing, etc services.
training and retraining must be imparted both to the library staff as well as
library user to talk with the newly emerging technologies.
vii) It may or
may not have a physical existence.
(1997) describes the characteristic of Virtual Library as-
i) There is no
corresponding physical collection.
will be available in electronic format.
are not stored in any one location.
can be accessed from any workstation.
v) Documents are
retrieved and delivered as and when required and
search and Browse facility are available.
behind Virtual Library: Creation of Virtual Library involves use of
highly sophisticated technology that includes:
i) Use of
multimedia material for information storage.
ii) Use of 3D
sound, 3D Graphics, 3D Photo, etc.
iii) Use of
Voice Message, Audio Conferencing, Video Conferencing, etc by the library staff
as well as library user.
iv) Origin and
Development of PC with VR technologies attached.
in a Virtual Library Setup: The
virtual library to be functional, following facilities need to be extended to the Library Staff
Computer Resources: In case any library staff is not in a position to
procure the computer resources to work from their home, it will be the
responsibility of the library to provide the same to him/her.
Office Stationary: The library should provide the office stationary i.e
Calculators, staplers, Directory of Phone numbers of Library staff, Job Manual,
etc. to the library staff at their homes.
Arrangement of Online Meeting: Arrangement of online meeting at fixed
hour of the day by using Voice Mail, Audio Conferencing, Video Conferencing,
etc that helps in live, two way communications.
In the virtual library setup, the
need to be extended to the Library Users-
Access to Information: Access to all information resources from any
PC equipped with VR Technologies: If the VL is a part of any physical
library then attempt should be made to provide in the library itself the user
with PC that are equipped with VR technologies such as Head-tracked HMDs (Head
Mounted Display), Data Gloves, Gesture, Trackers, etc. The monitor, keyboard,
speaker, joystick, etc should also be compatible to VR set up.
of Virtual Library: VL set up will help the administrative staff of the
library to appoint handicapped person, elderly and parents with young children,
A virtual library
setup will provide following advantages to the administrator-
Low Office Space: In VL setup the library staff hopes to work from
their homes itself that will eliminate the necessity of large office capacity,
thereby reducing the cost involved in office rent or library building or cost
related to its future expansion.
Reduce Work Stoppage: Holiday,
different kind of bandh, storm, flood, hurricanes and like other
makes it impossible for the employees to travel to the workplace of the library
resulting in halt of every kind of library activities. The VL will eliminate
such type of work stoppage. Even in holiday, employees can spend their leisure
time by working certain hours for the library.
library will have the following advantages for library staff-
Physical Constraints of Workplace: The Library staff should be able to
work from their home or any other place convenient to them.
Own Boss: Every one wants to be his/her own boss. VL will give the
employees the freedom to do their job according to their own method.
Everything is Formal: VL will demand the instruction to be given by the
boss or the librarian in a formal way to his/her subordinate that hopes to
achieve better management.
Direct Communications: The direct communication through voice mail,
video conferencing helps to foster a sense of group belongingness among the
The library user
will have the following advantages-
Distance Education: Individual member of the library can enter into the
virtual mode and can feel the real library environment i.e can see the
reference librarian, can browse the card catalogue, etc.
of Virtual Library: Some of the
disadvantages of a virtual library are-
Sense of not Belongingness: In VL set up the employees will not come in
direct contact with their colleague, so they hope to lose the feeling of being
an important part of the library.
Fear of Job Loss: In VL set up; employees can easily sink in the idea
that they are expandable by thinking in mind that any body with a computer and
modem can do their work. So, they will hope to be the victim of fear of job
Low Moral: VL will not support the positive feed back that comes with
face to face interaction with superiors and peers.
Demand more dedication from Library Staff: The employees of VL should
be more sincere, disciplined and dedicated than the employees of physical
library set up as he/she must work without any external supervision and
motivation in most cases.
Family Tension: If family tension will find its entry into the life of
telecommuters they will not be able to escape from it at least for a few hours
when they will be in the same environment, resulting interruption will occur in
the work. If the tension will be from spouse, then he/she may also view the job
as a working arrangement to avoid family responsibility.
Hazardous Set Up: VL will give the environment where employees hope to
be the sufferer of eyesight loss, Arthritis, Nerve problem, etc.
disadvantage of VL is that any user with negative mind will be able to mislead
the library staff.
g) Conclusion: The
word “Virtual Library” is displayed in different kinds of library websites, but
in reality a true VL is yet to be set up. But when it will be implemented it
will help to extend the sense so distantly that any one can do, learn or
manipulate the things in reality. It will help us to build a library environment
that will be similar to our physical library but will be accessible from distant
location; one can just see the library just like using a microscope or