The Knowledge Link From Book Racks to PCs | digitalLEARNING Magazine
June 2007

The Knowledge Link From Book Racks to PCs

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Manoj Kumar

Acting Director
Information and Library Network (INFLIBNET) Centre, Ahmedabad, India
director@inflibnet.ac.in

The objective is to facilitate academic communication amongst scientist, engineers, social scientists, academics, faculties, researchers and students through electronic mail, file transfer, computer, audio, video conferencing, etc. The objective is to establish a computer communication network for linking libraries and Information Centres in universities, deemed to be universities, colleges, UGC Information Centres, institutions of national importance and R&D institutions, etc. The objective is also to  promote and establish communication facilities to improve capability in information transfer and access, that provide support to scholarship, learning, research and academic pursuit through cooperation and involvement of different stakeholders. Information and Library Network (INFLIBNET), the autonomous inter-university centre of the University Grants Commission (UGC) located at Gujarat University Campus, Ahmedabad, is engaged in modernisation of libraries and information centers for information transfer and access, to meet all these objectives and there by establishing a national network of libraries and information centres in higher learning in India.

INFLIBNET is a co-operative endeavor in resource development, sharing and its utilisation at national level. Initially, it was started as a programme under Inter University Centre for Astronomy and Astrophysics (IUCAA), Pune on project mode and since May 1996 it attained the status of a full fledged Centre and is set out to be a major player in  promoting scholarly communication among academicians and researchers in India.

Library Automation

The automation of University Libraries is an important activity of the Centre, since it is also a pre-requisite for networking of libraries and resource sharing under the INFLIBNET Programme. Realising the importance of this basic necessity, INFLIBNET through University Grants Commission has been providing grants (initial and recurring) to the universities identified under the programme. Every year 15-20 libraries are identified and initial grant to the tune of INR 6.5 lakhs is provided. This enables the university libraries to purchase computers, modem, telephone, printer, air-conditioner, softwares (OS) etc. These selected universities are also provided with recurring grant for the first five years after the installation of systems. Till now, 142 universities have been given grants for the automation purpose. The above support has given tremendous boost to the automation activities at the participating universities. The Centre has provided technical guidance, including configuration of the systems, modality, execution and retrospective conversion of the data, common standards, etc.

Development of Union database

The Centre has developed many databases to support libraries and academic community. Online National Union Catalogue of academic libraries is one of the important databases created over a period of time with different types of material (Books, Serials, Theses etc.), which comprises of eight million bibliographic records and provided building blocks for resource sharing infrastructure both at national and regional level for university libraries in India.

The Centre is also engaged in creating other databases, such as Experts, Research Projects, Experts in Science and Technology etc., which can be accessed online using Internet through INFLIBNET website www.inflibnet.ac.in.

Software research and development

The Centre has designed and developed a state-of-the-art comprehensive Library Management Software called SOUL (Software for University Libraries) through its R & D pursuits. It is aimed at accelerating the library automation movement in the country, which has gained lots of popularity in past few years and the installation base has reached to 1350 as on date across the country. This installation base includes Universities, Colleges, Research Centres, Institutes of higher learning etc. due to its user-friendly features and over 1000 orders for installations are in pipeline. It has generated a revenue of INR 3 cr. (approx) for the Centre.

Human Resource Development

INFLIBNET has been conducting various training courses/workshops of short and long duration; International Conventions like International CALIBER and PLANNER are regular features too. Several other types of training courses and workshops are conducted in collaboration with different national agencies like ICSSR / NASSDOC, All India Radio, DRTC, ICAR and Kendriya Vidhyalaya Sangattan(KVS), Govt. of Gujarat, Govt. of Andhra Pradesh, etc. So far about 22500 professionals/academicians in various disciplines got benefited out of 342 activities and majority of them are from library, information and computers science disciplines.

UGC-Infonet

The Centre has been able to realise its one of the objectives by setting up a major communication network of universities and it has successfully interlinked 149 universities through UGC-Infonet which has been  planned, implemented and monitored by INFLIBNET using ERNET India, New Delhi (a Govt of India society under Ministry of Information Technology) backbone with state-of-art technology.

Main features of UGC-InfoNet are:

  • Scaleable Architecture to grow nation-wide terrestrial backbone using fiber optic links
  • Integrated satellite WAN supporting broadband and SCPC technology
  • Comprehensive Network Management systems for overall monitoring of the network
  • Linkage with other academic and research networks all over the world
  • Security for data and virus protection using firewalls and intrusion detection systems
  • Dedicated Data Center for Web hosting, e-Journals and Mail Boxes
  • Broadband Multimedia and Video Channels for Distance Learning

1. UGC-InfoNet has become a vehicle for distance learning to facilitate spread of quality education all over the country.

2. UGC-InfoNet is tool to distribute education material and journals to remotest of areas.

3. UGC-InfoNet is a resource for researchers and scholars for tapping most up-to-date information.

4. UGC-InfoNet will form a medium for collaboration among the teachers and students not only within the country but all over the world.

5. UGC-InfoNet is an Intranet for University Automation.

6. UGC-InfoNet  encompasses entire University System for most efficient utilisation of precious network resources.

7. UGC-InfoNet  establishes a channel for Globalisation of Education and facilitate the universities in marketing their services and development.

Network Architecture of UGC Infonet

UGC InfoNet is based on open IP platform, employing state-of-the-art technologies like IP Multicast,  TCP Spoofing and other Internet tools that provide interactive education on PC or TV, enabling on-line response to queries. Open systems architecture will ensure support for current and future applications.

Connectivity options for universities

UGC-InfoNet is overlaid on ERNET Infrastructure including a nation wide terrestrial backbone and a complimentary satellite Wide Area Network (WAN).  As such ERNET can provide a complete range connectivity options to the universities depending upon their location and bandwidth requirements. Efforts will be made to connect the universities on the terrestrial media. Alternately, a satellite connection will be provided through VSAT. Total bandwidth provided by ERNET for domestic and Internet bandwidth are 288 Mbps and 96 Mbps in last year which is expected to increase to 375 Mbps and 125 Mbps respctively in the year 2007.

Digital Leased Lines

In the localities where telecom network is well-developed dedicated leased line will be hired from basic telecom service providers. Such links are primarily for 256 Kbps and 2 Mbps speeds.

Radio Link

The universities located within 30 kms of the ERNET PoPs will be provided with dedicated radio links operating from 256 Kbps to 2 Mbps speeds

ERNET operates a Satellite base Wide Area Network (SATWAN) using C-Band transponder on INSAT-3C. SATWAN hub, located at Bangalore, supports Broadband VSATs with up to 45 Mbps shared bandwidth and Single Channel Per Carrier (SCPC) VSATs capable of providing up to 2 Mbps dedicated bandwidth.

Satellite based Wide Area Network

ERNET operates a Satellite base Wide Area Network(SATWAN) using C-Band transponder on INSAT-3C. SATWAN hub, located at Bangalore, supports Broadband VSATs with up to 45 Mbps shared bandwidth and Single Channel Per Carrier (SCPC) VSATs capable of providing up to 2 Mbps dedicated bandwidth.

e-Journals Consortium

To promote higher educational system, its standard, quality research and bridging the digital divide amongst Indian Universities, INFLIBNET has initiated UGC-Infonet: e-Journals Consortium under UGC in the year 2004 under 10th Five Year Plan. During the last three years, effective implementation and execution of this programme has made it as one of the largest and successful consortiums around the world. Under the programme, over 4500 high quality peer reviewed priced full text scholarly journals in Science, Technology, Social Science and Humanities are provided free of cost to 124 universities through UGC Infonet infrastructure and about 60 lakhs articles have been downloaded during three of
operation. Through  this initiative, savings to the tune of INR 350 Cr(approx.) has been achieved to the national exchequer in first two years(2004-2005).

Special drive for North-East and Jammu & Kashmir

A special annual programme for the benefit of professionals in all eight sister states in the North East region was initiated by way of organising PLANNER(Promotion of Library Automation and Networking in North East Region) in the format of Convention. Four such programmes were organised in four different states in collaboration with different universities in the region.

The Centre has been able to realise one of its objectives by setting up a major communication network of universities and it has successfully interlinked 149 universities through UGC-Infonet which has been planned, implemented and monitored by INFLIBNET

The response was overwhelming and attracted more than 1000 professionals from the region besides participation from neighbouring countries such as Bangladesh, Nepal etc. Moreover, under the aegis of Prime Minister’s Office a special drive for automation of college libraries in the region was under taken and SOUL software was supplied free of cost along with training.

The same scheme was also extended to Jammu and Kashmir Colleges. Special training for College Principals of these region was also organised to create greater awareness and ensure speedy implementation.

Consultancy and funded projects

The Centre has successfully carried out various projects funded by agencies like WHO, DST/ NISSAT etc. and providing technical consultancy services to various universities. The expertise of the Centre is also sought by Higher Education Department of Sri Lanka, BIS, NISO for standardisation, National Knowledge Commission, INDEST-AICTEconsortium, Department of Bio-Technology, Government of Andhra Pradesh, Government of Madhya Pradesh, Government of Gujarat, Sakshat Portal, etc.

Future Programmes

Entering in Global Village (OCLC, NDLTD, etc.), promotion of e-Learning for remote users, emphasis on e-Journals/e-Books in colleges, digitisation and hosting of Indian academic contents including non print materials, Centre of Excellence in library, information and computer sciences, creation of national academic e-Archives, help in creation of institutional repositories in universities and colleges, high priority on lib automation and networking  of remote locations including North East, Jammu & Kashmir, etc., are some of the future programmes of the centre.

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