‘Indian Libraries slow to provide mobile access to content’, reveals first of its kind survey with Librarians

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Gurgaon: On the occasion of National Librarian Day*, Knimbus, a leading Cloud-based eLibrary platform, released findings of a survey conducted with librarians across India on their current adoption of digital, perceived challenges and benefits, future plans and the influence of the Government’s ‘Digital India’ initiative on making libraries digital.

As per government data 1, there are 799 universities, 39,071colleges and 11,923 stand-alone institutions in India and there are about 34.6 million Higher Education students. The number of public libraries in India is over 70,000. But less than 10% students use the physical library.

With mobile Internet users expected to cross 500 million users by 2017, consumption of information has moved to the mobile. IAMAI (Internet & Mobile Association of India) estimates that smartphone users spend 72 percent of their time to consume information on their mobile devices. This shift has increasingly impacted physical libraries which haven been witnessing a significant drop in the usage of their facilities.

The Knimbus survey reveals interesting findings as to where India’s libraries are in their digital journey. None of the library respondents were fully digital, while 71 percent of libraries were partially digital. A fully digital library provides users with access to the complete library content via online devices such as laptops, tablets or smartphones, on an integrated search platform to be accessed any time and anywhere.

However, the majority of respondents confirmed their plans to go fully digital by 2020. 56 percent said that a mobile device – either mobile or laptop is a preferred medium for accessing library services. There is a high degree of understanding of the advantages of going digital. More than 60 percent respondents agreed that ‘anytime and anywhere access of e-resources’ and ‘a diverse range of content all at one place’ are the biggest benefits of a digital library. Perceived high cost was cited as a barrier to digital adoption by 72 percent currently. A majority credited the Government’s ‘Digital India’ initiative with having a positive impact on accelerating the digitization of libraries

KEY FINDINGS @ A GLANCE-

81% of libraries plan to go fully digital by 2020
56% confirm that a mobile device – mobile or laptop is the preferred medium for users to access library services
60% cite ‘anytime and anywhere access of e-resources’ and ‘diverse range of content all at one place’ to be the biggest benefits of a digital library
72% perceive costs to be the barrier to digitisation
92% credited the government’s ‘Digital India’ initiative with accelerating digitization of libraries.
Knimbus introduced its cloud based eLibrary platform 3.0 that integrates high quality knowledge-content for learners such as e-books, e-journals, online courses from top professors across international universities and curates multi-media content from sources such as TED Talks, Edx, Coursera, Slide Share and more. The platform offers premium academic content from over 500 national and international academic publishers and more than 100,000 free e-books and 10,000 open access e-journals for users. Knimbus 3.0 would be accessible to users through the Knimbus mobile app that is available for academic institutes on demand. With this offering Knimbus is looking to bring academic libraries closer to learners making it no less than a Netflix of education.

“Learners want a focused learning path in today’s age of information overload and fake news. They want knowledge-based services to be available to them on the go and without the distractions of search and social media,” says Rahul Agarwalla, Founder & CEO, Knimbus. “Knimbus provides a focused service for college students that maps all relevant content to their degree or course. Users can be selective of the content they require, thus providing them with a personalized knowledge application,” Rahul adds.

Knimbus has till date digitized 450+ libraries across India including Niti Aayog-New Delhi, Visvesvaraya Technology University (VTU)-Bangalore, Indian National Academy of Engineering (INAE)-Gurgaon, National Defense College (NDC)-New Delhi, National Institute of Technology (NIT)-New Delhi, Sharda University-Delhi, and many more.

*National Librarian Day is celebrated on August 12th every year by the community of librarians across India in remembrance of renowned professor of library science, Dr. S R Ranganathan (12th August, 1892- 27th September, 1972), who was behind the advance of libraries in India.