Digital literacy skills in Pakistani option for librarians

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Abid Hussain

INFORMATION Communication Technologies (ICTs) brought enormous revolution in our daily life. Individuals’ behaviour has wholly been changed in education, health, agriculture, and industries, etc. Mobile phones, computers and the Internet have trapped people and there is no exit chance in the coming decades. Traditional political, economic and social lives of people in contemporary society become nonadjustable. People are transforming their routine businesses from standard setup to modern information technology.

Digital Literacy skills are computer, media, information and Internet literacy skills in the modern digital environment. The ability to use information and communication technologies to attain libraries’ goals with computer technology and Internet literacy is called Digital Literacy Skills. The libraries are designed to preserve the information, organize the information, and access the organized structure information, accessed and retrieved with easy access. Libraries worldwide have transformed their services over the Internet. Unfortunately, people are still using the old traditional services in Pakistan and are not fully aware of Digital Literacy Skills.

In the era of Information Technology, sharing networks, retrieval and preservation of information have become social, political and cultural survival for humanity worldwide. Digital Literacy skills have become an essential tool for the general masses and library administrations exclusively. In other words, the collection of abilities, knowledge and personal characteristics via multiple communication channels is considered as Digital literacy skills and learning these skills prepare the library professionals for better knowledge sharing.

To recognize the sources and resources in the digital environment, Digital Literacy skill helps the patrons to browse the quality research. To share the digital encoded information and fulfil the users’ needs in a library, Librarians should be made digital literate. Digital literacy skills could help them to stay abreast with the current environment and provide the patrons with the best services in time of needs. The librarians should fully be equipped with Digital Literacy Skills in order to search and retrieve quality information for their users.
Librarians face numerous challenges and are less motivated to acquire the desirable material for teachers, students and researchers. The authorities may help the librarians to adopt a stable framework. They should be given the training to eradicate such gaps in the digital environment. In the acquisition of Digital Literacy Skills, there are several hindrances like lack of interest of librarians and poor-quality Internet. These demotivating factors have a significant relationship to demographic characteristics and should be addressed at the university level. Librarians in Pakistan have not been educated in digital literacy skills for many reasons.

One such reason is the interest of concerned authorities and the role of library associations. These obstacles should be addressed to enhance digital literacy skills. There are five constructs of digital literacy skills essential for librarian’s and needs of the day: Library literacy, computer literacy, information retrieval literacy, tools literacy and research support literacy, librarians should be made cautious about these skills. It has been found that digital literacy skills among Pakistani librarians are a bit low and need proper attention to be improved. The university authorities should prepare them for acquiring these skills through training programmes across the country. Digital literacy skills in Pakistan would help the librarians to attain organizational goals and will help them to enhance quality assurance services. The Government of Pakistan may initiate some training programmes that help them to educate their youth and prepare them for online digital businesses. In this connection, the government should reserve meagre funds for educational institutions in order to prepare our youth for online jobs. For Library professionals, Department should revise the BS and Master level curriculum and will incorporate the topic related to digital and literacy skills. All librarians should be granted training to attain such skills that could help them augment performance. Moving to computer and laptop technology with steady WiFi or fixed broadband connection will turn a library into a partial digital literacy centre. Remember! Youth and libraries raise the countries, ignoring them will create severe panic.
—The writer is working as Library Officer in Institute of Strategic Studies, a think-think based in Islamabad.

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