Date of this Version
Library Philosophy and Practice 2012
In the changing information age library professionals have to gain extensive knowledge about developing technologies and improve their skills to manage these technologies. Computers, connectivity, and electronic information have redefined the image of library profession and the services provided through library and information centres. The rapid developments in Information Communication Technologies (ICT) have given a solid foundation for revolutionary changes in the information handling capabilities of academic libraries and information centers all over the world. According to Katz and Macklin (2007) technology is the portal through which we interact with information, but people's ability to handle information to solve problems and think critically about information tells us more about their future success than their knowledge of specific hardware or software. The academic librarian of this decade has to possess a portfolio of technology related skills in order to complement and support the navigational skills. Such skills help library staff to manage the information more widely and, in turn, transfer these skills to the users as appropriate. These skills include: word processing, desktop publishing, use of bibliographic software packages, spreadsheets, graphics, packages, bulletin-board, familiarity with data and file manipulation, maintaining WWW files, familiarity with local automated systems, IT troubleshooting, and familiarity with different operating systems(Morgan, 1996).
Several studies have been reported to study the skills required by library professionals in an electronic environment. Adeyoyin(2006) in a survey conducted among members of staff of 28 university libraries in West Africa toascertain their information and communication technology (ICT) literacy level, found that there was a need for knowledge acquisition among the librarians in Nigerian university libraries to be able to offer efficient services and that the ICT literacy among the librarians was low. Safahieh and Asemi(2008) assessed the computer literacy skill of librarians in Isfahan University of Iran. The results indicated that majority of the librarians have acquired their computer skill through informal channels. Library software is the most commonly used software among librarians and the less used software was database management software. The most common problem cited in computer usage was frequent breakdown of system, electric power failure, and inadequate computers in the libraries and librarians' inadequate computer skill. Ramesh Babu, Vinayagamoorthy and Gopalakrishnan (2007) conducted a study of ICT skills among librarians in engineering educational institutions in Tamil Nadu to identify the types of ICT skills ,assess the level of skill , the means of acquiring ICT skills and identify the constraints in acquiring such skills by the librarians . The study found that the librarians of these institutions have acquired basic skills in ICT, but they lacked knowledge about network-based services and digital library services.
According to Biddiscombe (2001) Internet and IT skills are required by information professionals in their support for learning, teaching and research within the changing context of the higher education sector in the UK and the development of managed (or virtual) learning environments. Though IT skills, particularly in relation to the Internet are essential, some of the more basic skills that are important to the information professional should not be abandoned. Even though several studies are documented with regard to the skills required by library professionals in an electronic environment, relatively less research has been undertaken with respect to library professionals in the Universities in India especially Kerala. Hence it is hoped that this study will help the library professionals and University authorities to take necessary steps to improve their skills and strive towards providing better technology based services to the academic community.