"I certainly never write a review about a book I don't think worth reviewing, a flat-out bad book, unless it's an enormously fashionable bad book." --
says, John Gardner in Conversations with John Gardner
Quoted from 'Dictionary of Library and Information Science Quotations'     Edited by Mohamed Taher & L S Ramaiah. ISBN: 8185689423 (New Delhi , Aditya, 1994) p.150. Available @ Amazon.com

Sunday, August 19, 2012

State-of-the-art of Library and Information Science (LIS) Programs in India

Here is a brief review of the following article:
Mehra B, Potnis D & Morden J. An exploratory study of the nature and composition of current library and information science programs in Indian state universities, Perspectives in International Librarianship 2012:1
This article is a study of the performance of LIS programs in state run universities.
What I notice form the above article is, it's data: a) is a mixup of formal and informal LIS programs, b) pertains to those universitites that have a web-based 'presence' ONLY, and c) depends on any link as a website for the concerned LIS program, etc.
I would not go to a third party's website/portal (e.g., LIS department website included is: http://india.studybot.org/) and presume such a site is official, authentic and dependable source for a national level study!!!
My humble opinion (without any disrespect to the otherwise serious, major contribution, by the authors): I think the above study, to be a true review of the current situation, should have included the major players: core/oldest/leading universities with LIS programs in India (in the study missing universities are, such as, Delhi, Bombay, Madras, Karnataka, Mysore, Aligarh, Calicut, etc.).
Missing I say so, not because these are my friendly universities, rather because the area of comparative librarianship requires NEAR/fitting criteria to match and then explore. For e.g., by the date of establishment listed in the article: it includes, BHU, 1941; Calcutta, 1945; Assam University, 2009; and Karnataka State Open University, no date). Similarly, comparing those that offer only or any program: Bachelor M.Sc. M. Phil. Ph.D. & Other, makes any senses?
Furthermore, I quote: "The data in Table 3 indicates a total of 27 universities that offered master level degree programs however seven of these were branch campuses of the same university in multiple locations." [end of quote]. 
What will be the results of such a comparative analysis of a sub-continent/civilization (that has not just states, rather nation-states, according to a sociologist)???
In my experience, comparative study, is not just 'feeling about the similarities' in oranges and apples, nor looking at Nagpur oranges with Kashmir Apples or Ooty Apples (moreover, randomly picking by impulse, i.e., pick it if-you-find it in your way).
Anyways, the above study should inspire those at the helm of affairs to start, a real and systematic comparison of state-owned, private and other LIS programs that are offering formal way (classroom), and another study for informal programs (online/distance/remote/off-site/blended, etc.). 

Given below is a comment From Dr. R Shalini (based on my review):
 I have only one comment —appalling!

This is just the tip of the iceberg. Today every one thinks that by reading some papers/studying some websites/portals they can do research and then publish the same. Journal publishers/conference organizers need papers to fill their pages (registrations) and so naturally inclined to publish them (and turn a blind eye to the objectives/methods of research)!

So a researcher whimsically chooses a source -- (in this particular case (http://india.studybot.org/) and the source of data does not include a certain department of LIS, which has been offering an LIS program for the last 47 years (for example University of Mysore) (you are damned!) and you do not exist and not counted!

First and foremost, I had not heard of this portal  (studybot) and after getting your mail, visited the same and once again appalled to find that the top 10 universities include universities such as Symbiosis, Sikkim Manipal  (and excludes top universities such as University of Hyderabad for example)!

With a view to introduce some academic rigor, we at the University of Mysore introduced a clause in the Ph.D. regulations (two published papers-- a must). The result? Every Ph.D. student/guide sends a mail to some journal publisher (editor) and routinely gets an acceptance letter to all and sundry papers from the said journal and so the compliance is met!

Conference Organizers are also similarly placed—since you need papers to include in your conference proceedings and people to attend your conference, routinely accept all papers—no peer review, nothing of that sort.

This is the state of affairs of research/research publications in India.
In the name of research (done for the sake of NOT research but the degree of Ph.D. and conference/journal paper publications), today there is a nexus between the researchers/research supervisors/academic publishers/Conference organizers.
Quality is expensive; don't expect it to be available dime-a-dozen.
Long live academic rigor and integrity!
Dr. Shalini R.Urs
Executive Director and Professor
International School of Information Management
University of Mysore
Mysore - 570006
Phone :  + 91 821 2514699 
Fax      :  +  91 821 2519209 
ISiM - Management School of IT. Technology School for IM
Comment by Dr. Abdul Majid Baba:
Presently we are having having near about 120 institutions in India imparting Library Science Education including Universities, Polytechnics, Associations, DRTC etc. 100 Universities approx impart library science education. 
Dr.Abdul Majid Baba
Allama Iqbal Library
Deputy Librarian
Comment by Dr. M P Satija:
There is a Ph.D topic like this:
"A socio psychological study of the breast feeding habits of black skinned economically weaker infants from urban slums of South central Punjab".

In the sample the researcher studied four children three of them were orphans.

Similarly I received a Ph.D thesis for evaluation which studied only four libraries and three of them had no librarian for long. Jai Ho
Dr M P Satija, UGC Emeritus fellow
Dept of Library & Inf Science,
Guru Nanak Dev University
Comment by Dr R.S.R.Varalakshmi:
The article is a good attempt to explore the LIS education programmes in India. I heart fully appreciate the attempt as an LIS teacher. However the findings do not show a true picture of LIS Education in India. My observations are as follows:
1. “Unfortunately, there have been no comprehensive and detailed studies of government-managed state universities and colleges in India, or analysis of government support or lack thereof, of LIS educational programs in these institutions. This article begins to address these questions by exploring the nature and composition of LIS programs in state universities and colleges in India.” (P 3)

The statement indicates the authors are not aware of the higher education system in India. The Departments of LIS under State Universities are functioning under clearly defined regulatory structure.

“Education is listed in the Concurrent List of the Constitution. Therefore, both the centre and the states can make laws with regard to education. In addition, the centre can determine standards for higher educational institutions while the states can incorporate, regulate and wind up universities.

“Higher education is regulated by multiple authorities. The University Grants Commission (UGC) regulates universities and colleges teaching general subjects. It has the power to determine and maintain standards and disburse grants.” http://www.prsindia.org/billtrack/cover-note-on-higher-education-1360/)


a) LIS education programmes in Universities, traditional Central and State Universities or Open University systems are being supported by the Government; legally with State Universities Act and University Grants Commission (Central funding body) and politically with Ministry of Human Resources Development (MHRD, Govt of India). b) The UGC Modular Curriculum (Chairman Dr C.R.Karisiddappa), 2001 has made an analysis of all LIS courses in India that helps to understand the structure of LIS education in the country. c) A good number of studies have already been conducted on LIS education in India and the special issue of DESIDOC Journal of Library and Information Technology 30(5) 19-31 is a recent source besides many other research articles.

2. There are no criteria for selection of sample (30 Departments of LIS) for study as some are Central Universities (BHU), majority State Universities and few Distance Education (Magadh, Karnataka State Open University etc.). For example, in Tamilnadu University of Madras (established 1857) is the pioneer in initiating LIS courses with the efforts of Dr S.R.Ranganathan and its website provides complete details. Instead Alagappa University has been chosen for study. Similar is the case in other States too.

I think it is not proper to compare the student intake and faculty strength and faculty student ratio as it varies between regular and distance education programmes.

3. The data provided is also not correct in certain institutions (though I have not made complete verification). For e.g. Andhra University intake of students is 40 per year (as per website info) i.e. 80 students of MLISc (2 year integrated course) per annum but Table 4 displays it as 190.

Dr R.S.R.Varalakshmi, Professor (Rtd), Visakhapatnam - 530 022

More comments to follow...

No comments: