Introduction: ICT-based library services refer to the integration of information and communication technology (ICT) in libraries to enhance and streamline various aspects of library operations and user services. With the rapid advancements in technology, libraries have embraced ICT to provide innovative and efficient services to their patrons. These services encompass a wide range of digital tools and platforms that enable users to access, retrieve, and interact with a wealth of digital resources. From online catalogs and databases to digital lending systems and virtual reference services, ICT-based library services revolutionize the way information is organized, disseminated, and accessed, thereby transforming traditional libraries into dynamic and interactive hubs of knowledge in the digital age.
The use of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) in libraries provides a wide range of benefits that enhance the overall user experience. Some of the key advantages include:
- Speedy and Easy Access to Information: ICT enables libraries to digitize their resources and create online catalogs and databases. This allows users to quickly and easily search for and retrieve information, eliminating the need for manual searching through physical materials.
- Remote Access to Users: With ICT, libraries can provide remote access to their resources, enabling users to access and utilize library services from anywhere with an internet connection. This flexibility expands the reach of the library and allows users to benefit from its resources even if they are not physically present.
- 24/7 Access: ICT-based library services provide round-the-clock access to users, allowing them to access resources at any time, regardless of the library’s operating hours. This convenience is particularly beneficial for individuals with busy schedules or those in different time zones.
- Access to Unlimited Information: ICT opens up access to a vast amount of information from various sources. Libraries can provide access to online databases, digital archives, e-books, journals, and other digital resources, giving users access to an extensive range of information that may not be available in physical collections.
- Information Flexibility: ICT enables users to interact with information in flexible ways. They can customize searches, filter results, and navigate through digital resources according to their specific needs and interests. Users can also easily save, download, and share information in digital formats, enhancing information flexibility and adaptability.
- Enhanced Flexibility in Information Retrieval and Utilization: ICT tools and systems offer advanced search capabilities, allowing users to conduct targeted and precise searches. Users can refine search queries, use keywords, and apply various filters to obtain more relevant and accurate results, saving time and effort.
- Efficient Organization and Management of Data: ICT facilitates efficient organization and management of library data. Digital systems and software help libraries streamline cataloging, indexing, and archiving processes, making it easier to organize and retrieve information. This improves the overall efficiency of library operations and enhances the user experience.
ICT-Based Library Services
ICT-based library services refer to the utilization of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) tools, systems, and platforms to enhance and streamline various aspects of library operations and user services. In an increasingly digital and interconnected world, libraries have embraced ICT to provide innovative and efficient services to their patrons. These services encompass a wide range of digital solutions, including online catalogs, databases, digital lending systems, virtual reference services, and digital preservation platforms. ICT-based library services enable libraries to expand access to information, improve resource management, enhance user experiences, and adapt to the evolving needs of their users in the digital age. By harnessing the power of technology, libraries are transforming into dynamic knowledge hubs, offering a seamless and immersive digital environment for learning, research, and discovery.
Online Public Access Catalogues (OPACs) are digital platforms or interfaces that allow users to access and search the catalog of a library’s collection, including books, journals, audiovisual materials, and other resources. OPACs serve as online versions of traditional library card catalogs, providing users with a convenient way to discover and locate materials available in the library.
OPACs offer several key features and functionalities to enhance the user experience. Users can search for specific items by title, author, subject, or keyword, making it easier to locate desired resources. Advanced search options, such as Boolean operators, allow users to refine their search queries for more accurate results. OPACs also provide options to browse through different categories, such as genres, formats, or collections.
In addition to basic search functionalities, OPACs offer detailed information about each item in the library’s collection. Users can access bibliographic data, such as the publication year, publisher, edition, and descriptive summaries. Availability information, including the item’s location within the library, its loan status, and due dates, is also provided. Some OPACs even offer additional features, such as book covers, user reviews, and recommended readings, to further enhance the browsing and selection process.
OPACs may also support other interactive features, such as user accounts, where patrons can manage their borrowing history, renew materials, place holds, or create personalized reading lists. Users can save their favorite searches, set up alerts for new acquisitions or available copies, and receive notifications about due dates or overdue items.
The advent of OPACs has transformed the way users interact with library catalogs, providing greater convenience and accessibility. Users can access OPACs from any internet-connected device, allowing them to search the library’s collection remotely. This remote access eliminates the need for physical visits to the library to browse through catalogs, thus saving time and effort for users.
Digital library services encompass a range of offerings that leverage technology to provide access to digital resources, facilitate information retrieval, and enhance user experiences. These services utilize digital platforms, tools, and systems to manage and deliver a wide array of digital content, including e-books, e-journals, audiovisual materials, research databases, and archival collections. Digital library services enable users to remotely access and explore these resources through online catalogs, digital repositories, and virtual libraries. They offer features such as advanced search functionalities, personalized recommendations, and interactive interfaces, enhancing the discoverability and usability of digital materials. Additionally, digital library services often support functionalities like online borrowing, digital lending, and collaboration, enabling users to engage with resources and connect with other researchers and learners in the digital realm. These services have transformed the landscape of libraries, expanding access to information and knowledge beyond physical constraints, and empowering users with flexible and dynamic digital library experiences.
3. Electronic Document Delivery Service:
Electronic Document Delivery (EDD) services provided by libraries revolutionize the way users access and obtain specific documents. These services offer a convenient and efficient means of delivering requested materials, such as journal articles, book chapters, conference papers, and reports, to library users. Through EDD services, users can submit their document requests electronically, eliminating the need for physical visits to the library. Library staff then retrieve the requested documents from various sources, including licensed databases, digital repositories, and interlibrary loan networks. Once obtained, the documents are digitized and delivered electronically to the users via email or secure online platforms. This electronic delivery not only accelerates the document delivery process but also enhances accessibility, as users can receive documents remotely from anywhere with an internet connection. EDD services also expand the scope of available resources, as libraries can tap into their network of partnerships and interlibrary loan systems to fulfill user requests.
4. Institutional Repository Service:
The Institutional Repository (IR) service offered by libraries is a digital platform designed to collect, preserve, and disseminate scholarly and research outputs produced by the institution’s faculty, researchers, and students. Institutional repositories serve as centralized digital repositories, allowing institutions to showcase their intellectual contributions and make them openly accessible to a wider audience. These repositories typically host a variety of materials, including research papers, preprints, conference proceedings, theses and dissertations, datasets, and multimedia content. The IR service provides numerous benefits, such as increasing the visibility and impact of scholarly work, promoting collaboration and interdisciplinary research, and ensuring long-term preservation and accessibility of institutional resources. Researchers can showcase their work to the global scholarly community, leading to increased citations and recognition. Institutional repositories also facilitate open access, allowing anyone to freely access and download research outputs, fostering knowledge dissemination and public engagement. Furthermore, the IR service supports compliance with funding agency requirements for open access and research data management. Through the Institutional Repository service, libraries play a vital role in preserving and showcasing the intellectual contributions of their institution, fostering scholarly communication, and promoting the overall advancement of knowledge.
5. Current Awareness Service – (CAS):
Current Awareness Service is a valuable offering provided by libraries that keeps users informed and up-to-date with the latest developments, resources, and information in their areas of interest. This service aims to help users stay abreast of new research, publications, events, and other relevant updates within their chosen fields.
Libraries employ various methods to deliver current awareness services, including email newsletters, RSS feeds, customized alerts, and social media updates. Users can subscribe to these services and specify their preferences, such as topics, keywords, authors, or specific publications, to receive tailored updates.
The Current Awareness Service plays a crucial role in supporting research and information needs. It saves users time and effort by delivering relevant and curated information directly to them, eliminating the need to manually search for new content. By staying informed about the latest developments, users can remain current in their respective fields, discover new research trends, and identify potential collaboration opportunities.
Moreover, the Current Awareness Service helps researchers and professionals in making informed decisions. By receiving regular updates on emerging research, publication opportunities, and conference announcements, users can stay ahead of the curve and maximize their engagement within their disciplines.
The service is not limited to scholarly resources alone but can also encompass news articles, industry reports, and other relevant information sources. This ensures that users have a comprehensive understanding of the latest happenings in their field of interest, including both academic and practical insights.
6. Audio-Visual Services:
Audio-visual services provided by libraries encompass a range of offerings that utilize multimedia resources to enhance learning, engagement, and access to information. These services include access to audio recordings, video materials, multimedia presentations, and interactive content. Libraries often maintain collections of audio-visual materials, such as DVDs, CDs, audiobooks, and online streaming platforms, which can be borrowed by users for educational or recreational purposes. Additionally, libraries may offer viewing and listening facilities, equipped with audio-visual equipment, where users can access and enjoy these materials on-site. These services cater to diverse learning styles, allowing users to engage with information through visual and auditory means. They offer a dynamic and immersive learning experience, enabling users to explore topics, access cultural materials, and engage with educational content in a multimedia-rich environment. By providing audio-visual services, libraries ensure that users have access to a wide range of resources that complement traditional print materials, enriching the learning and recreational experiences of their patrons.
7. Online User Education:
Online User Education is an essential ICT-based library service that aims to empower library users with the knowledge and skills needed to effectively navigate and utilize digital resources and technologies. Through online platforms, libraries offer a wide range of educational resources, tutorials, webinars, and interactive modules to support users in developing information literacy and digital literacy competencies. These resources cover topics such as search strategies, database navigation, critical evaluation of information sources, copyright awareness, and digital privacy. By providing online user education, libraries ensure that users can access valuable learning materials remotely and at their own convenience, fostering lifelong learning. This service equips users with the necessary skills to efficiently search, evaluate, and utilize digital information, enhancing their research capabilities, academic success, and overall digital literacy. Online user education as an ICT-based library service plays a vital role in equipping users with the knowledge and skills required to thrive in the digital age and navigate the vast digital landscape of information and resources.
8. Readers’ Advisory and Online-Reference Services:
Readers’ Advisory and Online-Reference Services are two essential ICT-based library services that aim to connect users with personalized reading recommendations and provide online access to reference materials and expert assistance. Readers’ Advisory services employ sophisticated algorithms and data analytics to offer tailored book suggestions based on users’ preferences, reading history, and genre interests. These services utilize online platforms and databases to provide a seamless and interactive experience for users to discover new authors, genres, and titles. Online-Reference Services, on the other hand, provide users with access to a vast array of digital reference materials, including encyclopedias, dictionaries, research guides, and scholarly databases. Users can perform in-depth research, access authoritative sources, and receive expert assistance through virtual reference desks, chat services, and email consultations. These ICT-based services greatly enhance the user experience by providing personalized reading recommendations and instant access to a wealth of information resources, thereby catering to diverse interests and information needs. They bring the expertise of librarians and the breadth of library collections to users’ fingertips, creating a dynamic and accessible virtual library environment.
9. Electronic theses and dissertations (ETDs):
Electronic theses and dissertations (ETDs) represent a significant ICT-based library service that revolutionizes the process of archiving, accessing, and disseminating graduate research. ETDs are digital versions of theses and dissertations submitted by graduate students, providing an electronic alternative to traditional print formats. Libraries play a crucial role in managing and preserving these electronic documents, creating dedicated online repositories or digital collections for ETDs. This ICT-based service offers numerous advantages, including increased visibility and accessibility of graduate research. ETDs can be accessed remotely by researchers, scholars, and the general public, eliminating geographical and logistical barriers. Moreover, ETDs often incorporate multimedia elements, such as audio, video, and interactive components, allowing for a more dynamic and comprehensive representation of research findings. The electronic format also facilitates text searchability and the inclusion of supplementary materials, such as datasets or multimedia appendices. Additionally, libraries ensure the long-term preservation and accessibility of ETDs through robust digital archiving and metadata management practices.
10. Online Chat Services:
Online chat services are an indispensable ICT-based library service that facilitates real-time communication between library users and librarians. Through online chat platforms embedded on library websites or through dedicated chat applications, users can engage in instant messaging with librarians to seek assistance, ask reference questions, or receive guidance regarding library resources and services. Online chat services offer the convenience of immediate access to expert help, bridging the gap between users and librarians regardless of their physical location. Users can receive personalized recommendations, clarification on search strategies, assistance with navigating databases, and guidance in locating relevant resources. These services ensure prompt and efficient support, enhancing the overall user experience and satisfaction. Furthermore, online chat services often include features such as file sharing, co-browsing, and chat transcripts, allowing users to share screenshots or documents for better understanding and providing a record of the interaction for future reference. By leveraging ICT, libraries offer seamless and responsive assistance through online chat services, fostering a collaborative and user-centric approach to information provision and support.
11. Electronic Books Service:
Electronic Books (e-books) service is a pivotal ICT-based library service that provides users with digital access to a vast collection of books. Libraries offer e-books through online platforms, allowing users to borrow or access digital copies of books remotely. E-books are available in various formats, compatible with e-readers, tablets, smartphones, and computers, enabling users to read anytime and anywhere. This service offers numerous advantages, including instant availability, as users can download or access e-books immediately without waiting for physical copies. It also promotes accessibility by catering to users with visual impairments or reading difficulties, as e-books can be easily adjusted for font size, background color, or text-to-speech functionalities. Additionally, e-books eliminate the constraints of physical space and inventory, allowing libraries to provide a wide range of titles and expand their collections beyond the limitations of print materials. E-books also support annotation and highlighting features, enabling users to interact with the text, take notes, and bookmark pages. Through the e-books service, libraries offer a convenient, portable, and versatile reading experience that aligns with the evolving digital landscape and accommodates the diverse needs and preferences of their users.
12. Electronic Journals
Electronic Journals (e-journals) are a critical ICT-based library service that offers users seamless access to a vast array of scholarly and academic publications. E-journals are digital versions of traditional print journals made available through online platforms and databases. Libraries play a crucial role in providing access to these e-journals, allowing users to search, browse, and access articles electronically. This service offers numerous advantages over print journals, including instant access to the latest research and scholarly articles from diverse disciplines. Users can access e-journals remotely, anytime, and anywhere, eliminating the need for physical visits to the library. E-journals also provide advanced search capabilities, allowing users to search for specific articles, authors, or keywords within a vast collection of publications. Additionally, e-journals often offer interactive features such as hyperlinks, multimedia content, and supplementary materials, enhancing the reading and research experience. The digital format also enables users to save and download articles, annotate texts, and easily share content with colleagues. With e-journals as an ICT-based library service, libraries empower users with a wealth of scholarly information, promote research, and facilitate the dissemination of knowledge in a convenient, efficient, and environmentally friendly manner.
13. Electronic Mail (E-mail) Service
E-mail services serve as a fundamental ICT-based library service that facilitates communication and information dissemination between libraries and their users. Libraries provide e-mail services to enable users to contact librarians, request assistance, and seek answers to reference or research queries. Users can send inquiries or requests via e-mail, and library staff promptly respond with the necessary information or support. E-mail services ensure convenient and direct communication, enabling users to seek assistance remotely and at their convenience. Users can also receive notifications and updates from the library, such as overdue notices, hold pickups, or announcements about new resources or services. E-mail services facilitate personalized communication, allowing librarians to provide tailored responses and deliver targeted information based on users’ specific needs. Moreover, e-mail communication allows for the exchange of attachments, enabling users to submit research papers, request interlibrary loans, or share relevant documents with library staff. By offering e-mail services as an ICT-based library service, libraries foster efficient and effective communication, promote user engagement, and provide personalized assistance, ensuring a seamless and user-centric experience for their patrons.
14. Internet based-library Service
Internet-based library services encompass a wide range of ICT-based offerings that utilize the power of the internet to enhance access to information, resources, and services. These services include online catalogs, databases, digital collections, and interactive platforms accessible through library websites. Internet-based library services enable users to search for and access a vast array of digital resources, including e-books, e-journals, multimedia content, research databases, and archival materials. Users can browse and retrieve information remotely, eliminating the constraints of physical library visits. Online platforms also facilitate resource sharing and interlibrary loan services, expanding access to materials beyond the library’s own collection. Moreover, internet-based library services often provide interactive features, such as virtual reference services, online chat assistance, and collaborative tools, allowing users to engage with librarians and peers in real time. Through these services, libraries bring the convenience and flexibility of the internet to users, transforming the library into a dynamic and accessible hub of knowledge in the digital age.
15. Document Scanning Services
Document scanning services are an essential ICT-based library service that involves the digitization of physical documents and materials. Libraries utilize advanced scanning equipment and software to convert printed texts, images, and other physical resources into electronic formats. This service offers numerous advantages, including preservation of fragile or rare materials, expanded access to historical or out-of-print documents, and improved searchability and discoverability of information. Scanned documents are typically stored in digital repositories or databases, allowing users to access them remotely and conduct keyword searches for specific content. Document scanning services also facilitate interlibrary loan and resource sharing, as libraries can electronically share digitized materials with other institutions. Furthermore, document scanning services contribute to space optimization, as libraries can reduce the physical storage requirements for large collections by digitizing materials. By offering document scanning services, libraries embrace the digital revolution and ensure the long-term preservation, accessibility, and utilization of valuable physical resources in a digital environment.
16. Library Network Service
Library Network Service is an essential infrastructure and ICT-based library service that connects multiple libraries within a network, enabling seamless collaboration, resource sharing, and access to a broader range of materials and services. Library networks facilitate efficient interlibrary loan systems, allowing users to borrow materials from other libraries within the network. This service expands the pool of available resources, providing users with access to a wider array of books, journals, databases, and other materials that may not be available in their local library. Library networks also enable coordinated collection development efforts, allowing libraries to strategically allocate resources and avoid duplication. Moreover, library networks provide a platform for knowledge sharing and professional development among librarians, fostering collaboration, best practice sharing, and the exchange of expertise. By connecting libraries and promoting resource sharing, library network services enhance the overall user experience, extend access to information, and facilitate cooperation and innovation within the library community.
17. Open Source Software Service
Library Networking Service is a crucial ICT-based library service that facilitates communication, collaboration, and resource sharing among libraries. Through networking, libraries establish connections and partnerships, enabling them to collectively enhance their services, expand their resources, and better serve their communities. Library networking service involves the sharing of cataloging information, interlibrary loan systems, and collaborative collection development efforts. It enables libraries to access a broader range of materials, improving the availability and diversity of resources for library users. Networking also promotes knowledge exchange, professional development, and the sharing of best practices among librarians and library staff. By leveraging technology and ICT infrastructure, library networking service fosters collaboration, efficiency, and innovation in the library community, ultimately enriching the user experience and ensuring that libraries can meet the evolving needs of their patrons.
18 Ask-A-Librarian Service
Ask-A-Librarian service is an invaluable ICT-based library service that allows users to seek expert assistance, reference support, and guidance from professional librarians. Through various communication channels such as email, online chat, or virtual reference desks, users can submit their questions or inquiries and receive prompt and personalized responses from librarians. Ask-A-Librarian services connect users with information specialists who possess extensive knowledge of library resources, research methodologies, and information retrieval techniques. Librarians assist users in locating relevant materials, navigating databases, refining search strategies, and evaluating information sources. This service ensures that users receive accurate, reliable, and tailored guidance to meet their specific information needs. Ask-A-Librarian services empower users to make informed decisions, enhance their research capabilities, and access the wealth of resources available through the library. By leveraging ICT, libraries bridge the gap between users and experts, offering a convenient and accessible means of obtaining professional assistance and support.