In consequence of the recommendation of the National Knowledge Commission (NKC, 2005-2008), each of the Indian states has at least one fully-funded central university. Now there are 39 central universities. Privately funded and owned state-legislated universities are also being established to cater to the increased demand for higher education. In between there are many universities that are not legislation-based but are authorized by the University Grant Commission (UGC, New Delhi) to award degrees. Central universities are better-equipped in terms of financial resources, faculty, and infrastructure, and thus have an edge over the usually fund-starved state universities.
The libraries across the globe are challenged to integrate e-resources into their collection, services, and patrons' lives and academic libraries face obstacles when virtual learning environment (VLEs) become "the primary means of interaction between students and universities (Tenopir, 2008). Providing access to electronic journals and other e-resources is an important area of librarianship (Prabhu, 2002). The design of usable online interfaces is a crucial issue (Xie and Cool, 2000). Traditional library services and printed material are still more effective to researchers in Indian universities than web-based information and resources. Barriers to progress in this area in university libraries in India cannot be overlooked (Chandrakar, 2003).
When this study (Roy 2009) started in 2006, there were only 16 central universities. The present study has been conducted on a sample of eight central universities which are well established:
* Assam University (AU) (1994), Silchar.
* Banaras Hindu University (BHU) (1916), Varanasi
* Delhi University (DU) (1922), Delhi.
* Indura Gandhi National Open University (IGNOU) (1985), Delhi.
* Jamia Milia Islamia (JMI) (1969), Delhi.
* Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) (1969), Delhi.
* Pondicherry University (PU) (1985), Poducherry.
* Viswa Bharati University (VBU) (1951), Shantinikatan.
These eight universities have been chosen on the basis of their bandwidth use ranking and grouping. Two universities in each group that represent the highest and lowest bandwidth have been chosen.
Network Infrastructure and Strength
Fast and effective information retrieval to support information sharing requires sound and wide network with adequate bandwidth. The UGC-sponsored Infonet is the mainstay of the academic info-network infrastructure. The UGC has constituted a national committee called the Central Monitoring Committee (CMC) for smooth implementation and execution of information infrastructure. The CMC has chosen ERNET India (Education and Research Network) to establish information network in universities. The committee has recommended high bandwidth campus wide networks for Internet and external connectivity. So far 149 universities have been provided connectivity with raw bandwidth ranging from 512 KBPS to 20 MBPS. The Inflibnet is administering and funds its cost for all these universities.
Out of the eight universities surveyed, seven are members of the UGC-Infonet consortia. The IGNOU, due to its unique character, subscribes to 17 databases of its own. A tabulated picture is given below:
Table 2. Numbers of Databases in Different University Libraries Name of the UGC--Infonet Self Subscribe Public Domain Universities databases Databases Databases AU 16 0 0 BHU 23 24 -- DU 23 25 41 IGNOU -- 17 52 JMI 21 15 -- JNU 21 15 -- PU 22 -- -- VBU 18 -- -- There are 77 databases in all in these eight universities. But strangely enough only one online database, namely Project Muse, is common to all the universities, and 69 databases are subscribed by single universities.
The following Databases are available in seven of the eight university libraries: ACS, AIP, APS, Annual Review, BWP, CUP, IOP, ISID, JCCC, JSTOR, OUP, RSC, SIAM...