Research support in Pakistani libraries


Abid Hussain

MODERN libraries are regarded as hubs of research activities. Research often is known as established fact for pursuing a higher degree and without libraries, research is tiresome, exhaustive and tedious. Research is a combination of two words Re and Search, Re means again and Search means to find out. Thus, research meant digging out the old knowledge for discovering new facts. Merriam-Webster Dictionary defined the word research as a “studious inquiry or examination especially: investigation or experimentation aimed at the discovery and interpretation of facts, revision of accepted theories or laws in the light of new facts, or practical application of such new or revised theories or laws”. People have a different opinion about research support. Some people have to argue that Research support means financial support for conducting a research project. While others contemplate it as administrative support, Some are of the view that research support means to get guidance in the research journey, but, in the library scenario, research support means to connect researcher with the material for which the researcher yearn for. We know that people are researching for many reasons. Some research for academic purposes while others conduct them for non-academic purposes and the primary purpose of both academic and non-academic research meant to discover new facts about some significant problems. Thus, the primary ambitions of research are to find out a solution to speculative problems.
Libraries are nucleus of research activities in Pakistan. In coincident, researchers who often visit the libraries do not know what the library has on a specific subject. The craft of the librarian is to wield the researcher’s interest. The scholars start thinking when librarians link them with their desired material. In any academic libraries research support is playing a key role, but, the role of liaison librarian is of great importance: A person with good communication and research skills are proffered for this job. The Pakistani Librarians are jack of all trades which perform all duties. There are three parts of research support in the libraries, some are : (a) Research support office, this kind of support deals with research grants, quality assessment for research in libraries (b) Research material, a reference to library contents in different formats which can be used properly for research. (c) Information specialists refer researchers to liaison librarians or experts in research activities.
The present-day libraries in Pakistan perform better jobs in research support activities, some noteworthy activities of them are (1) Access to digital information, these are readily available information in digital format which refers a researcher and scholars to get enormous access remotely through digital applications (2) Development of digital collections, librarians in Pakistan develop more digital collection to connect researchers with update information. (3) Sharing process, this process enables librarians to make payment agreements for sharing databases that are too expensive for individual researchers to subscribe. (4) Discovery and access, Technology has changed the taste of researchers, in order to retrieve information in enormous speed, librarians prepared themselves for these skills. Those who are not ready to change their traditional skills will no longer be proactive (5) Metadata and catalogue, the librarians must aware the readers about accessing the item with descriptive information to help them in finding the relevant information in bulk, hereof, librarians may catalogue all information in a good manner to provide them better stuff.
The modern libraries in Pakistan perform a pivotal role in research arena. Good libraries in Pakistan retain good staff for researchers and keep them abreast with quality information. Libraries are promoting and exploiting new technology for scholarly communication. Standard libraries increased their repositories to showcase the research profile of their researchers. Rich libraries enhance the value of the library services by connecting the researcher with quality information. Outstanding libraries in Pakistan provide a better work environment for researchers in order to achieve the goals of organizations. To provide better techniques for research support in library services, the academia in Pakistan should undertake following steps for better research activities (1) Web 3.0 technology may be deployed for quality services, Information literacy, partnership building, information management, research data management, metadata and research data etc. It is an established fact that researchers in today’s age are influenced by lack of time, money and the possibility to focus on his/her research. The librarian should help them by providing the right information at the right time. The librarians working in academic environment may connect themselves with researcher as a research partner. Doing this practice, the librarians in Pakistan can improve their decision-making and problem-solving skills and enable themselves as critical consumer of academic literature.
Faculty at an academic level feel greater appreciation by imparting them better services. The librarian should adopt the skills in modern information technology beyond their traditional skills. Doing this practice, librarians must disseminate information in pursuance of of researchers’ demand. Five activities if ratified in the library services will promote library culture in Pakistan. Those are institutional repositories, open-access information, bibliometric, orientation services, advanced information literacy, research seminar series etc. I am optimistic that provision of such services will develop research activities in Pakistan and the Libraries will in true sense become hubs of research activities.
— The writer is working as Library Officer in Institute of Strategic Studies, a think-think based in Islamabad.