Automation and Networking of Tamil Nadu DPL

Tamil Nadu has one of the most advanced system of public libraries in the country. In an operation that is the first of its kind in India, all the 32 District Central Libraries (DCL) and the Connemara Library in Chennai have been automated, networked and brought on-line using the state-of-the-art Integrated Library Management Software (ILMS) called Koha. The Anna Centenary Library (ACL) in Chennai would also be integrated into this network when its automation is completed. Over time, it is also expected that the state libraries that come below the DCL s , such as the ones at the Taluka levels etc, would also be brought under this unified network.

This state wide Automation and Networking is proving to be of immense benefit to all the stake holders in the state – the public who use the libraries, the staff who manage them, and the higher management who plan and supervise their operations. It is enhancing and extending the library services available to the public, including on-line services, making the library experience more customer-friendly. A multi-lingual and user friendly web-enabled OPAC accessible to the general public as well registered members, online reservation of books, submission of procurement requests, e-mail and sms alerts, etc are some of the features the public now enjoy with our system. Similarly the fully automated environment and less laborious processes is enabling the library staff to provide a better and faster delivery of their services , including offering new services, to the public in a secure manner. Benefits of the Automation and Networking to the higher management at the DPL and in the Ministry include better coordination, planning, monitoring and supervision which ultimately leads to higher quality and reduced cost.

A unique feature of this initiative with far-reaching implications is the fact that Koha is a Free/Open Source Software (FOSS) product that has made this operation highly cost-effective, affordable and high performance. The simple and robust operational interfaces of Koha has made it possible for every library to train its own personnel to operate and maintain the system which again saves the recurring costs significantly as well as ensures reduced or zero down times. Thus our exercise of Automation and Networking using Koha is also serving as a case in point of the scope and roles that FOSS can play in public administration and services.

Automation and Networking of the public libraries in Tamil Nadu using the Koha ILMS was carried out by the AU-KBC Research Centre of Anna University Chennai with support from the NRCFOSS Project (National Resource Centre for Free/Open Source Software) funded by the Dept. Of Information Technology, Govt of India

Networked Libraries