Commonwealth Professional Fellowship: A Gateway for the Strategic Development of Libraries in India

Commonwealth Professional Fellowship: A Gateway for the Strategic Development of Libraries in India

Dinesh K. Siddaiah (Indian Institute of Technology, Ropar, India)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-2119-8.ch012
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The main purpose of writing this paper is to provide strategic directions to the higher education library system in India for transforming libraries into dynamic digital learning spaces as per the changing trends. It is the responsibility of the Indian Library administrators and policy makers to bridge the technology and knowledge gap exist between the commonwealth countries. This paper gives many clues on how the fellowship help the libraries in transition from print to electronic content and also gives many ideas for the overall planning and development of libraries in India. This paper provides many hints on redefining the libraries attached to the higher educational institutions in line with the libraries of western counties. This paper is written based on the learning experience of the author from his 2014 Commonwealth Professional Fellowship programme that was successfully completed at University of East London, United Kingdom. Information technology based services along with best practices adapted and which are successfully using in UK are major supportive elements for the implementation. Some of the concepts introduced in this paper are relatively new to the Indian context. Overall, the paper provides experience based inputs and insights for further development of higher education library system in India.
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Commonwealth Professional Fellowship (CPF) programme was a great opportunity for the author to refine his professional skills, acquire new knowledge, getting more ideas on digital content management and as well as study the universities and life style in the UK. The CPF supports mid-career professionals from developing Commonwealth countries to spend a period of time with a UK host organization working in their field for a programme of professional development. Fellowships are typically three months but can be between one and six months in length, and can include limited time for attendance at short courses or conferences, as well as visits to other organizations. Programmes at the fellowship demonstrate the development impact in the Fellow’s home country and the Fellow must be able to show how the knowledge and skills they will gain during the Fellowship will be disseminated after their return home (Commonwealth Professional Fellowships, 2014).

The author’s host institution was “University of East London” (UEL), a reputed University, and it is one of top six modern universities for research in London. UEL is a vibrant university with a vision to bring transformational academic and enterprising opportunities in the region with rich diversity, partnership and excellence in teaching and research. UEL is one of the most diverse universities in the UK, with more than 120 nationalities represented on campus. UEL has got a very well established libraries in Docklands and as well as Stratford campuses. UEL Library and Learning Services (LLS) provide access to high-quality academic resources, expert advice, and inspirational study spaces. LLS is constantly looking to improve and build high standards and, as a result of this, the UEL Library service was recently voted best in London for student satisfaction by international students (University of East London, 2014).

Author has opted for fellowship because it was a well-structured programme. At the same time he wanted to gain expertise in Library and Information management as UK libraries are far ahead than Indian Library system in terms of using technology, best practices, strategic planning and management of libraries. Author’s fellowship at UEL was for 13 weeks (June 2, 2014 - August 29, 2014).

He had many objectives to achieve which were for his home Institution i.e, Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Ropar, for his profession and at large for his home country. Fellowship was a boon for the author to achieve his professional objectives. Also fellowship came as a bonus for him as his institute in the midst of planning a strategic Library building and designing advanced Library services for one of the prominent Institute of higher education system in India. As a whole this particular programme helping fellows from commonwealth countries in varieties of way especially in acquiring leadership skills, effective handling of digital content on print, developing their personality, building more confidence, learning advanced and emerging technologies, building partnership and collaborations, learning cultural diversities and much more.

Higher education system in India is struggling to improve the quality of teaching, learning and research. As per the author observation education system in India is far behind than the education system of western countries. This is because of mushrooming of universities, lack of trained faculty and staff, not using of advanced technologies and so on. Because of poor quality of education and outdated learning systems, many of the universities in India are struggling to find suitable position in global rankings. Indian government and policy makers are relooking to stream line the system with the help of innovative and emerging practices of western countries.

Like other colleges and schools, Library and Information schools in India are tussling due to the poor quality of education. It is because of outdated syllabus are being followed and taught in almost all the universities even though there is big scope for reviewing and updating syllabus as per the emerging trends. Library and Informational professionals has to play major role in upgrading the higher education system in India on par with the developed countries.

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