Sri. Chidananda M & Smt. Ashwini N ((Librarian, JSS Law College, Kuvempunagar, Mysore & Librarian, NIE First Grade College, Vishweshwara Nagar, Mysore))
Internet and web is an effective source of information of the present day. There is no alternative or substitute to its abundance, utility and value. The creation of a homepage is necessary for library to be recognized and its services to be made available globally. Internet is bringing comprehensive changes in most of our daily activities like it is offering access to news, banking and insurance services, business opportunities, mails, educational facilities, entertainment and technology. In these days, internet is at our desktops, laptops, and mobile phones. This has changed the overall ways, means, mode, and methods of information dissemination. The thing which should be recognized is how fast the information can be sent to the end users. The fast growth and easy accessibility to Internet made libraries either now or in the near future have to develop their own homepages to meet the wide information requirements of their library users. The library professionals with the little knowledge of web can develop homepages by utilizing the services of web space providers.
Libraries are shifting their role from being custodians of collection based traditional information resources to being providers of access based digital information resources. Hence, the library websites have gaining importance. Libraries have to disseminate and facilitate access to variety of information to their users through their websites. Libraries also use their websites for disseminating information among users and to popularize library services. The richness of contents of library websites depends upon its collection, services, facilities, administrative support, updating policy, etc. These features collectively referred as content awareness of library websites. This indicates qualitative and quantitative aspects of information provided on the library websites. Evaluating library websites through content awareness is one of the methods for measuring usefulness of websites. The library professionals and the organizations are busy in acquiring, evaluating, selecting and disseminating information. For the effective dissemination of information the library may use newsletters, press releases, notice boards, websites, etc. to let patrons know what is new and available in the library.
Role and Importance of Library Websites
It should be clear to all of us that the contents of a library website are connected to the type of library represented. In this study, all are law libraries, so the mission of law library homepage is providing the services to its readers for their information needs. The law library homepage can support research in higher education through providing access to Internet, research tools, full text databases, e-resources, virtual observatory, etc. It can support user’s information requirement through Online Public Access Catalog (OPAC), online journals, e-archives, databases, repositories, etc. Selection of information resources can be reflected on the homepage through creating links to other relevant sites as well as creating links to full text electronic resources. Many librarians are assumed that the task of collecting e-resources is equally important to traditional/ print based collection development. It is in some ways more challenging in the changing nature of web resources. Providing access to information can be reflected on the web through internal search engines, online reference service, stable links to other Internet sites, access to the online catalog and other databases, basic information about the library hours, staff, collections, and timely updates. A home page of a library is an integrated interface designed to deliver detailed information about a library as well as to provide access to all computer based services offered by a library.
Objectives of the Study
The objectives of this study are:
- To analyze the library information in college websites.
- To verify which colleges are having their website and library information.
- To examine the Web 2.0 technologies implemented.
- To check the reveal of library services and facilities offered.
Limitations and Methodology of the Study
A checklist was developed for the data collection of present study. The checklist contains information in tabular form like, name of the college, URL, nature of links, collection, services, application of Web 2.0 technologies and so on. The websites of selected ninety two colleges were carefully analyzed and data has collected based on the checklist. The consolidated data were presented in tabular form for further analysis. The study is limited to the websites of colleges which are affiliated to Karnataka State Law University, Hubli and it covers only the websites which can be retrieved through Google search engine and by accessing the links/ URLs of the colleges as mentioned in the KSLU website.
Data Tabulation and Analysis
A plenty of information can be mentioned and made available in the library websites such as timings, presentation, video tour, videos, services offered, collection statistics, serials & periodicals information, article indexing service, rules, library staff details, special collections, new arrivals, OPAC, books list, library committee details, activities information, announcements, useful links, question papers, syllabus, newspaper clippings, gallery, visitors count, search option, gadgets, etc. The following charts contain data tabulated in a systematic way and various things of the websites are discussed below.
The information contained in the above mentioned Charts 1, 2, 3 & 4 are the data obtained by the checklist of the study. The checklist shows that only forty one colleges are having their website available to access out of the total ninety two colleges which are meant for the study. The rest of them are still not having their website at all. Some colleges have found their place for website in a group of campus like websites of other different colleges of the same institution. Some of the websites which are listed in KSLU page are expired and not accessible to the public. Only one college has a separate library website among forty one colleges. The twelve colleges contain library details in menu bar and five colleges have library details in sub menu bar and rests of them are having just a brief note of their library inside somewhere. Only five colleges have mentioned their library timings. Only three colleges have mentioned their services offered in the library. Only ten colleges have mentioned about their collection statistics. Only four college websites contain the information regarding journals/ reports they subscribed. Only three colleges have mentioned their library rules. Only thirteen colleges have given the details of their library staff. Only two colleges have OPAC/ library books list and only two college websites have useful links.
Findings and Suggestions
- The majority of the colleges are not still having their websites. It is better to have their website immediately as it is an effective way of disseminating the information.
- There is a lack of adequate information on the college website regarding academic activities and particularly the library details.
- Some colleges are using parent institution website to upload their information which leads to confusion in certain issues. It is healthier if they have separate website for Law College. A link to its content in parent institution website shall be made available.
- URLs of a few colleges under the study are expired and could not be retrieved. Immediate response should be taken by those institutions in reconstruction of their website.
- Majority of the colleges are not having separate websites for libraries or at least a separate menu bar for library contents and they just have a brief note on library in somewhere inside. It is important for every institution to disclose their library identity and effective services offered by having a separate library website.
- Most of the college websites are not revealed and implemented web2.0 / library 2.0 technologies in their practice. Application and implementation of library 2.0 technologies is very useful to the readers of the library.
- Many colleges are not given importance in mentioning their details regarding library services, timings, collection statistics, serials/ periodicals list, library rules, staff details, library OPAC / catalogue / books list, various useful links, etc. to its readers. It is necessary for the readers of their library to know all these services and facilities offered at their library.
- The list of open access journals is not available in majority of the college websites. There are plenty of e-journals and e-books available in the web and which can made utilized by the library users just by mentioning the links of the available information resources on the web in their websites.
- The study revealed that the majority of the library websites are not provided useful and informative links. The libraries should mention the different types of information and update them regularly.
- A few websites provided opportunity for user interaction in the form of feedback. It is the essential quality of the every library to get the feedback from its readers.
- Majority of the websites are not well structured and some of the websites have dead links. The websites should be well structured, attractive and should offer a variety and wide range of information. The correct use of title can produces a good result in its usage.
- Only a few websites have search facility. The websites should also provide simple and advanced searching facilities. The websites should not limit the links included in a text and should provide links to as many documents as possible online. The websites should also include the links to every webpage of the site so that visitors can navigate through the site with ease.
- The websites should handle multimedia documents through multimedia interfaces. The libraries should provide multilingual interfaces in their websites for the different category of users. The websites should be compatible on all the major browsers like Internet Explorer, Firefox, Chrome, Opera, etc. This is because the websites should be functional and accessible to users across the world using a variety of browsers and platforms.
The emerging information technologies and electronic communication facilities provide opportunities for libraries to play a prominent role in the support of teaching, learning and research than before. The object of the library homepage will depend on its parent organization and its clientele. The academic, public, and special libraries have different objects and sometimes local considerations shall impact the nature of a library’s object. In any case, library website designers must have a clear understanding of the library’s mission before embarking on construction of the site. Though there is a growing number of ways and means of contacting users and disclosing the library’s services, the library website should be the initial point for searches and a virtual entrance to the library. Another issue is the homepage/website should tell the readers the most used information in a shortest possible way. It is revealed by the study that majority of the libraries are not using and implemented library 2.0 technologies like start pages, RSS feeds, social bookmarking sites, social networking sites, wikis, blogs, mobile technologies, etc. to promote their website to its optimum usage. The library websites should provide a collaborative forum for discussion and sharing of information for the library users.
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- http://www.kslu.ac.in/AffilColleges.aspx (last visited Dec. 29, 2011)