Traditional vs Digital libraries | By Abid Hussain


Traditional vs Digital libraries

IN the last 50 years, Libraries have been considered as the collection of books, manuscripts, journals and similar items.

In those eras, Libraries have increasingly developed to provide information resources and services to patrons in times of need.

The terms digital library and virtual library refer to the vast collection of information to which people gain access remotely.

Societies evolved from time to time, but the value of information still existed. The current society value information more and more; for this purpose, the role of the information industry also evolved its services which encompass services to publishers, software developers, online information services and other businesses selling information.

After the advent of advanced technology, libraries have adopted a new mode of digital technology.

While moving towards digital applications, these libraries have left behind many challenges like management issues and impact on user satisfaction.

Now each library is in the process of paradigm shifts. It is a matter of fact that managing old traditional libraries is now a difficult job for the librarians due to fewer resources and time, which is a crucial factor.

Digital libraries have become a need of the time; however, on the other hand, there are still many problems like failure of softwares, hackers and high budgets for electronic gadgets.

Library management converts traditional libraries into digital ones for many reasons: users’ tastes.

As technologies evolve rapidly, similarly, it hampered the services of library management and stakeholders to buy advanced technologies.

Librarians of today’s age have expressed their views that neither we rely on digitallibrary and nor traditional libraries; we believe that only hybrid libraries are of great importance, so there should be a hybrid mode of libraries that fullfill the needs of both current and prospective patrons because people of old ages avoid computer information technologies.

In contrast, on the other hand, people of present generations rely more on electronic formats.

In both developed and developing countries, people use both sorts of services. Many people have believed that converting from traditional to digital mode is not beneficial as this will completely destroy the usefulness of physicallibraries.

On the other hand, Digital Libraries create unemployment, requiring few persons to maintain.

It will suffer not only the book business but also the existence of ancient knowledge housed in the libraries.

Though in some parts, the old manuscripts are converted from papers to digital modes but countries like Pakistan, with poor IT and infrastructure and less budget, cannot afford to convert all its physical books into digital applications for so many reasons, one of them is copyright issues, the second reason is the devaluation of physical books and third people relies on book businesses.

Patrons are more satisfied with both facilities, i.e., traditional and digital formats. Management of libraries believes that running both conventional and digital libraries under one roof is easy and manageable.

Moving from traditional libraries into modern information networking has provided both opportunities and challenges to libraries.

The digital library has become the need of the hour to provide quick services to those who do not physically have time to go to the library.

Even though users of today’s era have the same feelings as in the past, they still locate the right and exact information they want.

In a traditional library, people used to come to the library and search for the desired material through old catalog cards, which was a time-consuming task.

Now libraries on larger scales have adopted both traditional and digital services. The card catalog era has come to an end.

Libraries of the current time have converted their old catalog into electronic computer catalogs called Online Public Access Catalogues (OPAC).

The increased availability of electronic information has led libraries and librarians to develop relations with computer centers.

In some places, computer centers are responsible for electronic information, while the library is responsible for printed collections.

In most educational institutions, Librarians are responsible for library collections and computer services.

In short, the shift from paper to digitized hypermedia has created a high degree of comfort from the traditional setup to the digital world.

We are nations that can never ignore both conventional and digital libraries.

Even in developed countries like America, UK and Germany, Library facilitates both modes of traditional and digital services for many reasons because people of old age are not interested in electronic formats.

Nevertheless, users of modern days cannot live with physical books. To fulfil the needs of both users, libraries should adopt hybrid library services in printed and electronic formats.

—The writer is a Deputy Director (Library) at Institute of Strategic Studies Islamabad.


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