Ranganathan, India and LIS education

In July, we had a visiting academic and Assistant Professor from the University of Calcutta, Dr. Susmita Chakraborty gives a talk on LIS education in India.

History of LIS education in India 
During the 1950s, there were only 370 colleges and 27 universities. This has risen to around 719 universities in March 2015. Punjab University was the first institution to have a course in Librarianship during 1915. Since then LIS education has grown in popularity and 79 universities (divided by state, private and some deemed to be institutions) had LIS courses in 2001. For example, the Bengal Library Association have Bachelor and Master's degrees running for 1-2 years and a 5 year integrated MLIS. Further education courses also exist at PhD level across Indian institution along with MPhil degree. This level in education is in between a Masters and PhD level and not currently available within the UK. Although, in 1950 only 2 PhDs were awarded, further research in LIS has seen 345 PhDs awarded in 2008. The most interesting thing mentioned by Susmita was that there were refresher courses for LIS students which allows pass students to revisit certain topics in the early years of their careers when it is most needed.

Further into the talk, Susmita mentioned Shiyali Ramamrita Ranganathan. I think the budding librarians in the room were wondering when he would pop in the speech as it would not be right to mention Indian LIS education without giving him credit. Thought of the father of Library Science because of his visionary thoughts of librarianship and documentation, Ranganathan was well devoted to LIS education.

He was a first a University Librarian in Madras University in 1924, before travelling to study LIS at UCL. Along with being involved in IFLA and the United Nations, Ranganathan has helped shape documentation and classification standards. Although, he developed the colon classification that is still used today around India however is has not been very popular elsewhere because it is very mathematical. Not very surprising considering Ranganathan's background as a mathematician. However, this were of thinking would prove pinnacle in influencing modern LIS teaching in classification and highlighting problems in the Dewey Decimal Classification. It could also be safe to say that Ranganathan's 'five laws of library science' are still paramount in LIS studies today as it was one of the first lessons I received on the UCL LIS course. 

Language barriers
One of the most interesting topics within the talk was the impact of multiple languages on LIS education. As I have a keen interest in international librarianship in particular the collection development of Asian libraries, I find the the topic of non-Roman language as recurring problem at work and within LIS studies. For example, the official language of India is Hindi however, people speak many other languages. Susmita stressed that nowadays there is a much prioritisation for LIS teaching in the English language because it allows students to work across many Indian states. However, this does not decrease the problems of multilingual indexing that is practiced across these states. It was great to hear that this issue was being looked at as IT individuals are now working with librarians to fix the problem. Through focusing on creating additional metadata in English it will allow information to be shared across India and in an internationally format, while still retaining original language catalogue within the home institution.


1) How many publishing courses are within Indian LIS education?
Susmita pointed out that Calcutta University has a publishing course for different formats for 1-1/2 years. Modules on e-books and e-journals and topics on publishing for selection and acquisitions also exist. However, courses such as librarians as publishers are not available.

2) What is the setup of institutional repositories?
Digital archives and repositories are slowing being set up. However, data banks are something to be dealt with although specialised universities will have them.

3) Do traditional courses such as cataloguing and classification still exist?
Susmita stressed that these still exists in India and are very important because when you outsourcing such jobs to non-LIS professional the quality is lower due to no formal training. For example, authorities in Indian names that have multiple parts of a name.

For anyone interested in reading about Susmita's research into Indian LIS education, here is something for  further reading:

Chakraborty, S. (2014) Introspection into the LIS education scenario in India. SET Bulletin, IFLA.