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D-Lib Magazine
September/October 2009

Volume 15 Number 9/10

ISSN 1082-9873

Curriculum for Digital Libraries

An Analytical Study of Indian LIS Curricula


Professor, DLIS
Andhra University
Visakhapatnam, India

Red Line



The information professionals of today must discharge their duties in a hybrid environment, one that deals with traditional print documents but digital documents as well. To make digital information management a reality, Library and Information Science (LIS) education programmes in India now include digital library courses in their syllabi. An attempt has been made in this article to analyze the digital library course content of LIS Master Degree programmes of selected University Departments/Institutions in India. The results are not encouraging. There is a need to devise innovative LIS programme content on digital libraries in the form of core and advanced elective courses.

1. Introduction

The challenge before contemporary Library and Information Science (LIS) educational programmes is training future information managers for the digital environment, with a blend of traditional principles and skills of Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs). This is due to a fundamental shift in the information perspective caused by recent technological developments. This shift in paradigm is a challenge to LIS educators because they have to prepare students to cope with complex changes. The LIS departments should devise suitable courses to develop professional manpower who possess the attitudes, knowledge and skills for managing information in both tangible and digital form. This shift in the information environment in India today has become a driving force behind the revision of the LIS educational curricula to one that nurtures students with both active professional and technological skills. "The technological issues emphasized a high level of technological competency required particularly in an automated, digital/virtual environment..." [2]. Hence, LIS Departments are responsible for developing personnel of high caliber who can manage libraries and information centers of varied scope and nature, ranging from small rural libraries to large, well-established digital libraries. This requires planning, redefining and reengineering of LIS education programmes.

The objective of the present article is to analyze how well 'digital library' courses are being integrated in the Indian LIS curricula at Master's Degree level. The Master's programme is being offered in two streams: as a one-year BLISc and one-year MLISc (often referred to as 1+1 stream), and as a two-year integrated MLISc. In this context, an analytical study was made of digital library courses offered by 30 LIS Departments under the university system (both the streams) and by 2 national level institutes (DRTC, NISCAIR).

The data from the LIS departments was gathered through e-mail requests and/or downloaded from university websites. The data from 30 of the 75 university departments that offer an MLISc course represents 40% of coverage. Further the data represent four regions of the country, and the division is: North: 8 universities; South: 10 universities; East: 6 universities; West: 6 universities.

2. LIS Education in India

LIS education in India began in 1911, when the Baroda School was started by W.A.Bordon at the initiation of the Sayaji Rao Gaikwad II, then the Maharaja of the State of Baroda. Over the past 98 years LIS education in India has undergone significant changes with the support of University Grants Commission (U.G.C.), India. U.G.C. is a statutory body of the Government of India through an Act of Parliament for the coordination and maintenance of standards of university education in India. It is the only grant-giving agency in the country that has been vested with two responsibilities: funding, and coordination, determination and maintenance of standards in institutions of higher education.

Today there are nearly 100 universities and colleges offering LIS courses, and 27 universities that conduct the courses via distance education. According to UGC Model Curriculum (2001) [3], there are 14 Certificate courses, 12 undergraduate Diploma Courses, 68 Bachelors Degree, and 75 Master Degree programmes. The research activity taking place in LIS departments is also commendable, with 63 university departments offering Ph.D. degree programmes and 16 MPhil programmes. In addition, the National Institute of Science Communication and Information Resources (NISCAIR), New Delhi and the Documentation Research and Training Centre (DRTC), Bangalore are offering a two-year Associateship in Information Science. Recently, DRTC renamed its course as MS-LIS. Thus over a period of time LIS education has grown into a full-fledged discipline with courses being offered at different levels from the Certificate to the Ph.D. level by university departments, colleges affiliated with universities, and national institutions. However, the Certificate courses, in general, are being offered by state-level library associations, with few exceptions.

The UGC efforts in the development of LIS education are significant and are evidenced by the three Curriculum Development Committees (CDC) (1965, 1992, 2001) and the Subject Panels (1978, 1982) on LIS education; The curricula developed by the LIS departments were guided by these recommendations and thus reflect the changing trends of the LIS professional environment. The majority of university departments, with due consideration to their local needs and demands, included ICT courses as part of the core LIS curriculum. A study conducted by A.A.N. Raju revealed that "the impact of IT has been felt by the LIS departments in the country and it is evident that various aspects/areas of IT have been included in the syllabi of MLISc programmes either in the form of one paper or two papers" [1]. Thus the departments are committed to build an educational foundation, develop ICT and professional skills and values of the profession through their programmes.

3. Curriculum for Digital Libraries - Indian Scenario

The LIS departments, to keep pace with the emerging trends, have revised their syllabi as per recommendations of Model Curriculum: Library and Information Science (U.G.C., 2001). Much emphasis has been given in the Report to ICTs and practical components, in addition to existing core courses. The concept of Digital Libraries was considered as a part of ICTs. In fact, the University of Madras, Mysore, DRTC, and NISCAIR initiated the concept of digital libraries at the beginning of the 21st century. However, momentum to include a digital library component in the LIS curriculum occurred with the recommendations made in the UGC Model Curriculum on Library and Information Science (2001). The Committee recommended in Model Syllabus for MLIS/MLISc (2-year integrated course) under "Paper XIII Information Technology: Applications" the component of digital libraries as:

"Unit 4: Digital Libraries

  • Genesis, Definition, Objectives, Scope of Digital libraries
  • Image formats, Audio formation
  • Storage media formats - 180-9660 DVD
  • Software and Hardware for digital libraries, OCR, Image Editing software
  • Input capture devices, scanners, digital, movie cameras
  • Data Warehousing, Data Mining and metadata."

The majority of the universities adopted the same pattern with only a few modifications suitable to local requirements. The departments under study that have adopted the digital library course as part of an ICT Paper or as a full Paper are listed below in Table 1, and Table 2 lists universities/institutions that offer a digital library component as a full course/paper.

Table 1: Universities Offering a Digital Library Component as Part of the Course Content
S.N. Name of University Part of Core paper Course content
1 Aligarh Muslim University, Aligarh Semester II, Paper VII: MLS 8013 Information Technology Unit IV: Digital libraries (Details not available)
2 Andhra University, Visakhapatnam Semester III: Paper XIII; Unit IV.

Paper XII Information and Communication. Unit V (part)
Digital & Virtual library – concept & features

Digital preservation and Conservation; OAI
3 B.S.A Maratwada University, Aurangabad Semester III Paper: LISc014 Information Technology: Applications; Unit 3. Digital Libraries In compliance to UGC Model Curriculum**
4 Banaras Hindu Univ. Information Technologies and Systems Design. Unit I Digital Libraries Digital library Planning, procedure and implementation
5 Bangalore Univ. Bangalore Semester IV: Information Technology – Advances; Unit IV Digital/Virtual/Electronic Lib Characteristics of DL, DL initiatives (evolution). Challenges/limitations of DL, features of any Digital library S/W
6 Dr B.R.Ambedkar Open Univ. Hyd. D.E. Paper V Information Technology App Bloc IV: Digital Libraries Digital libraries- introduction; digitization of library materials; metadata; management of digital libraries.
7 Gujarat Univ. Ahmedabad Semester I (1+1)*

Paper V: Information Technology Appln

Unit IV: Digital Libraries
In compliance to UGC Model Curriculum**
8 IGNOU, New Delhi(D.E.) MLII104 Information Communication Techn: Applications Unit IV: Digital Libraries Digital libraries; digital reference service
9 M.S.Univ, Baroda Semester II (1+1)*Paper V Information Technology; Unit III: Electronic Information In compliance to UGC Model Curriculum**
10 Manipur University, Canchipur Semester IV Paper 401 Information Technology: Applications In compliance to UGC Model Curriculum**
11 Osmania University, Hyderabad Semester I (1+1)*Paper II: Information Technology Unit III: Electronic Information In compliance to UGC Model Curriculum**
12 Punjab University, Chandigarh Paper Code : MLS-7122Paper Title: Information Technology : Applications; Unit IV In compliance to UGC Model Curriculum**
13 Punjabi Univ., Patiala Semester II (1+1)* Paper VIII Information and Communication Technology Applications Section C Digital, virtual and Hybrid libraries- definition and scope. Recent developments.
14 RTM Nagpur Univ. , Nagpur MLISc IInd Year (Non – Semester)Paper XI: Information Technology Application Unit V Digital Libraries In compliance to UGC Model Curriculum**
15 University of Kerala, Trivendrum Semester IV: LIS 542 I.T. Applications in Libraries In compliance to UGC Model Curriculum**
16 University of Calcutta, Kolkata Part I Paper V Application of Information Technology Unit 1 Foundations of IT - Information Superhighway; WWW; Digital libraries
17 University of Delhi, Delhi Semester I (1+1)*Paper III: Advanced Computer Appln. s in Libs Digital library; Electronic library
18 University of Jammu, Jammu Course 503 IT Application to libraries; Unit III Course No. 551:IT. Applications to Libraries (practical) Unit 1 Digital libraries – overview of major digitization projects in India; Hypermedia organization&search

(Practical) Design of digital library using GSDL


Table 2: Universities/ Institutions offering Digital Library Component as Full Course/Paper
SNo Name of University/Institution Core paper/Optional D.L. Course content
1 D.R.T.C., Bangalore Core Semester II

Paper IX Digital Libraries
DLs; Digitization: S/W, H/W; OCR; Open Standards and File Formats, Metadata; DL S/W DSpace, Eprints and Fedora; Harvesting Metadata;Digital Library Architectures; Digital Preservation; Multilingual digital repositories and Cross-language information retrieval
2 Karnatak University, Dharwad Core Semester IV

Paper: 4.2 Digital library and Multimedia theory
Unit 1: Digital library

Unit 2: Design and Organization of DL

Unit 3: Digital library Initiatives

Unit 4: Digital Resource management

Unit 5: Overview of Multimedia

Unit 6: Multimedia authoring tools

Unit 7: Web technology

3 NISCAIR, New Delhi Core AIS Paper 7: Library Automation and Digital Libraries

Short term training programme: Design and Development of Digital Libraries using DSpace
UNIT 1 – Library Automation

UNIT 2 – Digital Libraries - Overview of digital library

UNIT 3 – Digital Preservation

Lab (Practical) Digital library: Installation, configuration & working in Greenstone/D Space

Short term training programme: Digital Library: Concepts and software; Metadata: Linux; DSpace; Metadata Harvesting, Case studies, etc.
4 North Eastern Hill University (NEHU) Core

Semester IV: Paper: LIS-C402

Digital Libraries
(Details not available)
5 University of Mysore Core

Semester IV

4.3. Digital Libraries

Paper 4.4. Digital Libraries – Practicum
Unit 1: Introduction to digital libraries.

Unit 2: Content creation scanning, OCRing

Unit 3: Creating Web documents- Mark Up Languages

Unit 4: DL architecture.

Unit 5: DL software. GSDL and DSpace.
6 Pondicherry Universiry, Pondicherry Core

Semester IV

Paper 4.2. Digital Libraries
Unit 1: Digital Libraries: Definitions, Fundamentals and Theoretical Aspects; Digital Library collections Major D L Initiatives, OAI

Unit 2: Design and Organization; Architecture, Interoperability, Protocols & Standards

Unit 3: Digital content creation: Electronic documents, files & formats & conversion to PDF

Unit 4: Digital Resources Management; Access to and Use of Digital Libraries; Storage, Archiving and Preserving Digital Collections

Unit 5: Digital Libraries Technology: Digital Software - D-Space, E-Prints, GSDL
7 University of Madras, Chennai Core

Semester IV

Paper: CIS C215
Unit 1: Digital libraries – definition, fundamentals

Unit 2: Design and Organization

Unit 3: Major DL Initiatives, OAI

Unit 4: Digital libraries Technology

Unit 5: Digital Resource Management; Access to and Use Archiving
8 Sambalpur University, Burla Core Semester III

XXI: Digital Library and Information Sys

XXII: Library Software practical

Unit 1: Digital library Organization

Unit 2: Digital Preservation and Archiving

Unit 3: Collection of Digital Libraries

Unit 4: Trends in Digital Library R & D

Unit 3: DL Software GSDL, DSpace
9 SHPT School of Library and Information Science, SNDT, Mumbai Core Semester I (1+1)*

Paper II: Digital Libraries (Theory) Semester II (1+1)*

Paper VII: Digital Library (Practical)

Theory: Unit 1: Introduction

Unit 2: Collection Development

Unit 3: Collection Organization – HTML and XML;

Unit 4: Access and Services

Unit 5:Technology – Basics of H/W, S/W; Networks

Unit 6: Management Planning, evaluation, IPR
10 Utkal University, Bhubaneswar Elective

Semester IV

Paper XIV A: Digital Libraries
Unit 1: Digital Libraries – definition and characteristics etc.

Unit 2: Digital Library Collections

Unit 3: Digital Information Infrastructure

Unit 4: Digital Users and Services

Unit 5: Digital Library Initiatives and Projects

11 University of Mumbai, Mumbai Core Semester I (1+1)*

Paper II: Digital Libraries (Theory)

Semester II (1+1)*

Paper VII: Digital Library (Practical)

Theory: Unit 1: Introduction

Unit 2: Collection Development

Unit 3: Collection Organization – HTML and XML;

Unit 4: Access and Services

Unit 5:Technology – Basics of H/W, S/W; Networks

Unit 6: Management Planning, evaluation, IPR
12 Jadavpur University, Kolkata P.G.Diploma in Digital Library Management

Semester 1: 4 Courses

Semester 2: 4 Courses

Semester 3: 4 Courses

Semester 4: 4 Courses
D.L. Environment I and II (2 Papers)

Info System Management I and II (2 Papers)

Digital Document Management I and II (2 Papers)

Information Technology and Library I and II (2 Papers)

System Installation and Content Development I and II (2 Papers)

Multimedia & Digital Archiving I and II (2 Papers)

Digital Library Creation and Use I and II (2 Papers)

Project I and II

4. Analysis

India has made significant progress in the design and development of digital libraries and institutional repositories. There are about 25 working digital libraries/repositories at the national level and many universities and institutions have taken the initiative to design and develop institutional repositories and digital libraries of heritage or manuscript documents. Digital library initiatives at the national and regional levels are contributing to the provision of access to legacy as well as current information in electronic format. Hence, it is expected that LIS education will develop the required manpower to manage existing digital libraries and to further expand the digital library initiatives. However, though the LIS departments have responded positively to this challenge, they seem not to have reached the expected level in producing LIS professional manpower with the knowledge and skills required for designing and maintaining digital libraries. The findings of the study discussed in this article can be summarized as follows:
  • The digital library course has been recognized as an important component of LIS curricula in India, as almost all of the 30 universities studied have included it in their core curricula.
  • 18 Universities included the course as part of the ICT Paper while 10 included it as a full Paper in the core syllabus. However, one university department (Utkal University) offers the course as an elective while Jadavpur University offers it as an add-on course. NISCAIR, New Delhi offers the course both as core course and short term programme. Two of India's Open Universities – Indira Gandhi National Open University and Dr B.R.Ambedkar Open University – have also included digital library course content.
  • There is no uniformity among the digital library course content offered by university departments and institutions in India. Eight of 18 offer the course as a unit or part of a unit of the Information and Communication Technology Paper following the recommendations of UGC Model Curriculum (2001) to a level of 90-100%. The other 10 university LIS syllabi on digital libraries vary significantly. Indeed, the recommendations of the UGC Model Curriculum are outdated with regard to present technological developments and needs revision.
  • Among the 10 universities that are not in compliance with the U.G.C. Model Curriculum with regard to digital libraries and instead have devised their syllabus in line with local demands, the content varies significantly and is not adequate to train professionals of expected caliber. Some universities offer the digital library course as intended (e.g., Andhra, Calcutta, Delhi, etc.) while others do not include any practical component. It is difficult to teach or learn about digital libraries without emphasis on digital library software. Hence, the nature of course content in these universities is inadequate. The curriculum requires immediate revision to accommodate emerging trends, with a focus on practical components.
  • The universities that offer the digital library course as a full paper are able to impart the required knowledge and skills, because both theoretical and practical components are dealt with in depth. However, 5 of 10 syllabi studied have not included the practical component, and the course content depicts only the fundamentals of digital library theoretical aspects. Utkal University offers the course as an elective and does not include the practical component for the most sought after specialization such as digital libraries. Jadavpur University offers the digital library course as a post graduate diploma course, after the MLIS, and has devised a full-fledged syllabus for that purpose. However, it also needs revision with regard to pruning the general automation and management aspects and concentrating more on digital library management.

On the basis of the study results, it can be inferred that the existing digital library course content of LIS departments in India is not satisfactory, because the majority of departments offer it as one unit/bloc of the core course. There is a need to revise and devise a new syllabus that reflects all aspects of digital libraries if the intention is to develop manpower to handle digital environment with proven professional capabilities. Further, a specialization, elective, or optional paper could be designed that incorporates the advanced aspects of a digital library course. That would help the students who are interested in pursuing the course further. The graduates of such programmes would then acquire the necessary expertise in the field and would be able to contribute to the ongoing and emerging digital library initiatives in India.

5. Suggestions

Indeed, all the departments studied encapsulate the basic aspects of digital libraries, both theoretical and practical, in the core curriculum to train digital librarians for the new millennium. However, the course components are rudimentary in nature and have to be further expanded to gain the depth of knowledge and skills in a particular area of specialization. The resulting competence will give graduates of the LIS programmes confidence to handle the digital environment. LIS education should explicitly incorporate principles of 'learning by living' and 'learning from society'. Apprenticeship in a related digital library system is more relevant than simply attending a digital library course. Keeping in view the students capabilities, existing information environment, and available infrastructure in the departments, the following syllabi are suggested as core and elective papers.

Course Programme: MLISc
Course Title: Digital Libraries (Core Paper)
(4 Credits)

Objective: At the end of the course the student will be able to

  • Describe the concept, evolution, operating principles and functionalities of a digital library;
  • Describe selected digital library projects and initiatives, both internationally and locally;
  • Plan and design a digital library system gathering required information;
  • Identify and use selected techniques and technologies for digitizing materials and organizing digital materials;
  • Design and develop a simple digital library system;
  • Understand and implement the management of digital library systems;
  • Probe further (research orientation) into selected issues related to digital libraries.

Teaching methods: Lectures, Practical exercises; Field work

Course Content:

Unit I: Digital Library

  • Digital Library - Definition, nature and scope; Types
  • Digital Library Initiatives - Major initiatives in the world and in India
  • Design and Organization of Digital Libraries - Architecture, Interoperability, Compatibility
  • User Interfaces, Protocols and Standards

Unit II: Digital library technologies

  • Digital Representation and Compression
  • Publication Format - audio and image
  • Scanning, OCRing, Editing and Publishing
  • Network platforms, design of a LAN, Server management

Unit III: Digital Resources Management

  • Digital Collection - nature and scope
  • Scholarly communication - formats - Multimedia and Internet-related formats
  • Identification of, accessing, processing, storage, delivery and use of digital resources
  • Digital library user - assessment of user behaviour and needs

Unit IV: Digital Library - Creation and Use

  • Open source software -Fedora, GSDL, E-Prints and DSpace
  • Digital library creation - prerequisites; content development; metadata development; and search options
  • Digital preservation - concept, practices of archiving; guidelines; methods and techniques
  • Digital library economics - pricing models, institutional funding, marketing

Unit V: Digital Library - Practical

  • Developing a digital library with a model collection of print resources converted to digital format using any Open Source Digital library software

After completing the digital library core course, students may be interested in learning more to gain additional expertise on the subject, and to opt for a career in a specific field. There is a need to extend the advanced course as an option/elective to encourage such students. An elective course program is shown below.

Course Programme: MLISc
Course Title: Digital Libraries - Advanced (Elective)
(6 Credits)

Objective: After completion of the course the student will gain expertise in

  • Mark up languages and their use in digital libraries;
  • Preparation/customization of Metadata element sets for digital collections;
  • Design and integration of mixed media formats;
  • Exploration of text mining;
  • Digital library economics and marketing.

Teaching methods: Lectures, Practical exercises; Work in a real digital library environment

Course Content:

Unit I: Digital Information Systems, Planning and Management

  • Digital library information storage and delivery systems - resource description and web labeling
  • Digital imaging technology and trends; content creation and management
  • Meta languages; categories; models; HTML, XML; descriptive metadata techniques

Unit II: Digital Information System - I.R. Process

  • Digital information access, delivery and use - online searching; search skills, cross searching and linking technologies
  • Data warehousing - data mining; process, architecture, algorithms
  • Explorations in text mining

Unit III: Digital Preservation and Management

  • Digital preservation and conservation - archiving - methods and techniques; best practices
  • Digital information - Intellectual Property issues; rights management
  • Digital library economics - pricing models; institutional funding; priorities; marketing

Unit IV: Digital library Practical/Project

  • The student ought to work in a real digital library environment and acquire practical skills in the installation of hardware and software.
  • Submission of project report based on the work carried out in the library.

6. Conclusions

The purpose of professional education is to prepare individuals who are competent to practice in that profession. Information professionals are the totality of their education and practical experience. The LIS departments in India responded positively to the development of digital libraries and designed courses to train digital librarians; however, their response has been inadequate to meet the demands of a digital society. Hence, it is necessary to update syllabi and course curricula on digital libraries, with a focus on problem solving and managerial skills. The departments are responsible for developing the right personnel of high caliber capable of managing digital libraries and information centres of varied scope and nature. This requires redesigning and reengineering the digital library course content at the level of the Masters Degree Programme.


[1] Raju, A.A.N. 1997 "A study of I.T. Components is MLISc courses in India," Information Technology and its impact on LIS Education and library management. Ed. A.A.N. Raju, N. Lakshmana Rao, and S. Sudarsana Rao. Hyderabad: Delta Publications. 45-53.

[2] Rath, Pravakar. 2006 preparing Library and Information Professionals for the 21st century: Issues and Challenges for Library and Information Educators in India. Proceedings of the Asia-Pacific Conference on Library and Information Edication and Practice 2006. Ed by Christopher Khoo, Diljit Singh and Abdus Sattar Chaudhry. Singapore, ALIEP-2006. 38.

[3] University Grants Commission, India. 2001 Model Curriculum for Library and Information Science. New Delhi: U.G.C.

Copyright © 2009 R.S.R.Varalakshmi

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