Planning a Library and Information Science Centre / Library

Planning a Library and Information Science Centre / Library: Plan is regarded as a projected course of action or the course of action to be done in near future. According to Koont’z and O’Donnell, “planning is deciding in advance what to do? How to do? When to do? And who is to do it?”. After that planning is a continuous process requiring constant reappraisal. It is not an end in itself, but a means to an agreed aim and objective. It involves selecting from alternative future course of actions for the organization as a whole and for each of its department or section. It might be evaluated and revised in the light of developing situation, that is to say, a plan is always being brought up-to-date throughout the long or medium term in which it is based. The planning of library and information centre involves the following steps-

a) Formation of a Committee: A planning committee should be formed in the first step. The head of the parent institution, architect, librarian, library consultant, and interior designer and, if possible, representative from the user community should also be included.

Inclusion of the a librarian should be treated as one of the most important components in planning a library and information science centre because he / she is the best person for planning and equipping the library. He himself should also be very conscious about his responsibility in planning the library and information science centre. He should work closely with the building committee. He must identify each and every factor with reference to which planning has to be made. The librarian should also consult other experienced librarians if there is any confusion as mistakes made at this stage could prove to be extremely serious.

b) To be Accustomed to the Concept of Library: The planning committee should be accustomed to the library. To do so they should read the existing literature on planning a library and information centre, visit some other library and information centre, and so on to assess the existing situation. They should also try to understand the present strength and weakness of the library in the light of where it stands.

c) Functionality of the Parent Organization: The committee should study the functionality of the parent organization, its resources and visualize its future direction and be aware about the changes and the consequent effect thereof.

d) User’s Identification and his / her Information Need: Libraries and information centers are highly user oriented and so it should take care of the exact needs of the consumer. The experienced planner immediately asks for the evidence of the extent and the nature of demand for the libraries and information centre, going to be planned. Needs of the user may be ascertained by questioning or by carrying out potential user studies. The nature and extent of local demand will have to be checked by consultation, surveys and controlled test so that information activities are well directed on demand criteria.

e) Establishment of Plan Premises or Forecasting: Forecasting is estimating or predicting the future internal and external environment of the information centre. Premises refer to planning assumptions concerning the expected internal or external environment under which the plan will operate. Since planning is concerned with the objective to be attained in the future and the provision of the means for their attainment, it is imperative that various dimensions of the future are explored and estimated.

f) Establishment of Objectives: Objectives are the main factors on which the planning of a modern library depends. Depending upon the objectives it may be a public, special or academic library. The objective should be established for the entire organization and then for each subordinate unit i.e. department or section of a library or information centres then the subordinate parts of the department or section and so on. Major department objectives in turn control the objectives of the subordinate departments and so on down the line. The objectives are divided and sub divided into successively smaller components until each department or section of the library has a definite set of goals for the short as well as long period.

g) Course of Action: The planners should search for and examine and evaluate the alternative course of action by weighing them in the light of various factors involved i.e cost, time, materials, manpower, equipment, etc. The use of operation research and mathematical and computing techniques may be helpful in this regard. Out of the alternatives, a suitable course of action should be selected.

h) Choice of the Site: Choice of the site should be the one conveniently accessible to the community to be served taking into consideration the future expansion.

i) Public Library: For public library, the site should be centrally located where everybody finds it convenient. This should be the place where normally public visit more often than any other place. Therefore a place where they go for shopping might be found suitable.

ii) University Library: The site should be centrally located within the campus.

iii) College and School Library: The location of the library does not matter very much if the distances are small, but if possible the library should be at the entrance path.

iv) Special Library: Library site in case of special library should be near the factory building or the factory canteen or staff canteen. The ground floor might be preferred for the library.

i) Organizational Structure: Organizing means the establishing of a formal structure of authority that is well defined and that can co-ordinate towards the attainment of the objectives. Proper job analysis and assignment of job should be planned in such a manner that no overlapping in duties occur. This can be achieved by establishing various departments. The power, function and duties of various departmental heads must be clearly defined; similar jobs should be put under one department while the jobs which are dissimilar should be isolated from each other.

j) Financial and Cost Consideration: Without a proper source of finance an information centre will fail to provide the expected services to its user. It should not depend solely on the grants received from the parent organization. It should also make provisions for generation of funds by itself.

k) Determination of Requirement of Resources: In this stage the various kinds of resources that would be required for the implementation of objectives or planning are determined. The resources mainly consist of the following.

i) Library Building, Equipment and Other Similar Facilities: A library and information centre cannot exist without a proper building, without the furniture and equipment. So the construction of a library building is of first and foremost step for planning a library or information centre. The building should be well equipped and must be free from dust, dirt, cobwebs and also should be water proof, theft proof and equipped with noise prevention measures, the provision of drinking water, heating and cooling machine (air conditioned), proper lighting.

The basic aim of the design of a library building should be to achieve flexibility by using the modular system. The library building has to demonstrate a remarkable ability to grow, to adapt to changing conditions to meet new demands and to implement new technologies. If these aspects are taken care of then one need not give much weightage to the predictions made about their future expansion and existence. The space estimates for the library staff, documents, services, users and for other purposes i.e corridors, entrances, lobbies, toilet, etc should also be prepared.

ii) Library Staff: Library staff constitutes an important component of the library trinity. The entire staff structure of a library usually consists of certain ranks of employees of different grades. The ranking of employees is determined according to the types of work they perform; in other words, it relates to the number of posts at each level. All the employees in a library are divided into three categories i.e professional, semi-professional, and non professional.

The professional staff are engaged in performing professional duties whose minimum qualification should be graduation with at least one year training in library and information science leading to post graduate degree or diploma. The semi professional staff of the library employees are engaged in performing library routines and techniques under the guidance of the professional staff and have to receive alternatively training in library science. Also some non-professional (clerical) and unskilled workers are appointed to perform certain library works.

Planning for education and training in library and information science and technology is to be given utmost attention so that a high quality of man power at all levels in adequate quantity and with a variety of skills is constantly made available to take care of the ever increasing complex of the information institution and the system. There should also be scope for continuing education, training, and scholarship.

In order to promote exchange of experience, conference, seminar, workshop etc. should be organized. Adequate facility for research and development, innovation should be built-up. 

iii) Information Technology (Hardware & Software Resources): A modern library and information centre should give thrust to the application of modern information technology, which involves computer hardware and software, telecommunication, reprographic, digitization, and micrographic equipment etc and should also create and develop facilities thereof; otherwise it will find itself handicapped to have access to the world of information.

iv) Document (information) Resources: A compressive collection of documentary information resources, whether primary or secondary or tertiary, should be built within the organization. The collection should be focused on the user’s need. If it is a plan for a university library then importance should be given for post-graduate students as well as research scholars. Similarly a special library develops its collection and service according to the requirements of the parent organization.

v) Institutional Resources: A modern library or information centre, however resourceful, cannot be self-sufficient in respect of information due to the information explosion, so there must be some provision to link up similar type of institutional resources i.e. libraries or information centre, joining with other library network, and consortia.

l) Information Product and Services: A library or information centre should also have an option to bibliographic control, indexing and abstracting services relating to indigenous information, besides the traditional services. The scope should also be there to provide the service by on line and off line mode. The scope for document delivery service, translation service, reprographic service, accesses and repackage of information should also be there. Establishing database of indigenous information, establishing feed back mechanism and evaluation of the services and products should be made constantly.

m) Standardization: Standardization in terms of methods, procedures, hardware, software, services must be followed so that exchangeability of information is facilitated in the national network. Standardization will contribute to overall economy of cost time and effort.

n) Cooperation: Cooperation with other similar institutions and national information system should also be maintained in the information field to exchange information between institutions.

o) Preparation of Preliminary Plan: A preliminary plan should be prepared at this stage by considering all of the above considerations.

Besides the above steps the following steps are also required to be taken.

p) Publicity:  Every plan has a movable horizon i.e. it is never definitive but can and should be improved in the light of experience and will inevitably have to be adopted. It is important, therefore, that the initial plan includes arrangement for education and amendments as necessary. The planning officer should encourage energetically such studies as help in improving the plan further before its submission to the competent authority. Considering this view, planning must be free to discussion and public should be asked for constructive criticism and suggestion regarding the aim, objectives and arrangements.

q) Preparation of Final Plan: In the light of open discussion / advice received the preliminary plan should be revised or modified and a final plan should be prepared. The final plan should state clearly the list of equipment needed, stating the sources of funds, budget estimates, time needed for completion of the project etc.

r) Numberizing Plan by Budgeting: The final step consists of numberizing the plans by converting them to budget. Each section of a library can have its own budget which may form part of the total budget.

s) Obtaining Approval from the Top Management: After the preparation of the final plan, if the library and information centre going to be established is a part of the parent institution then it is important to obtain general approval from the top management.

t) Execution and Evaluation: In course of execution the short term section of the plan will indicate the urgent and basic problem, legislative, staff training, setting up of executive bodies that must be disposed of in order to attain the medium and long term objectives. The information centre should have a continuous user-orientation programme to attract the new users to the system. After the full implementation of the project it should be periodically evaluated and maintained to keep it up-to-date with time.