Bandyopadhyay, Ratna (2008) INFORMATION LITERACY AND PUBLIC LIBRARY SERVICES IN WEST BENGAL, INDIA. In: International Conference on Libraries, Information and Society, ICoLIS 2008, 18-19 November 2008, Petaling Jaya, Malaysia.

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Information literacy is a critical component of this information age. An informed citizen is the basis of an active democracy and information literacy is important for sustaining democratic institutions. The objective of the UN Literacy Decade (2003-2012) is to provide information literate environments. The National Literacy Mission in India has given stress on ‘skill improvement to improve economic status and well being.’ The National Knowledge Commission in India has also mentioned in its objectives the integration of library and information services with people’s daily lives. So far the information literacy programmes, standards, skills that have been taken up, developed or that are being practiced are mainly restricted to academic institutions, higher education. But information literacy objectives aim at all types of users of the community. Librarians of the public libraries are in a crucial position as its target users comprise of all age groups with different educational background from all communities including visually and otherwise physically challenged users, indigenous community, economically backward communities, etc. The state of West Bengal, India has 2821 government and government sponsored public libraries and Community Libraries cum Information Centres (CLIC). Besides these there are 2200 non government and non sponsored libraries. Out of these 1722 public libraries and 341 CLICs are in rural areas. In some of the rural areas public libraries are the only libraries serving different user groups in the community. These public libraries are providing, to different extents, health related, job related, career related, cultural, and professional as well as general information services to make the target communities information literate in every respect and to bring a difference in people’s lives. This paper evaluates the services of the public libraries in West Bengal. It was found that users prefer the following information literacy services offered by public libraries: information related to their occupations, health and family welfare, jobs and careers. These services are generally provided through TV programs, audio-visual materials, information kiosks and internet access to websites. It has been found that many sections of society have been benefited. For example participation in government schemes for women has increased and literacy rate and work participation rate of tribal people has also gone up. Emphasis is given to recommendations relevant to information literacy provided in the IFLA/UNESCO Guidelines for the Development of Public Library Services. We also give some directions to introduce innovative services to make the information literacy programmes more effective. These recommendations for public libraries include providing computer labs with internet access for training to users in internet and computer usage. Information literacy programmes should be taken out of the library for prisoners, hospital and home-bound patients. Also for communities with low literacy rates information literacy programmes should be conducted with audio-visual materials for greater effectiveness. Audio-visual materials for information literacy programmes are being prepared by about 55 government departments and 30 NGOs. Public libraries should step in to coordinate their activities to avoid duplication and share these resources to benefit more people.

Item Type: Conference or Workshop Item (Paper)
Subjects: Z Bibliography. Library Science. Information Resources > Z665 Library Science. Information Science
Divisions: Faculty of Engineering, Science and Mathematics > School of Electronics and Computer Science
Date Deposited: 23 Jul 2013 06:27
Last Modified: 23 Jul 2013 06:27

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