Internet use behaviour of the LIS community in Pakistan.

Author:Idrees, Haroon


Information and Communication Technology (ICT) has brought many revolutions in the human life. One very important, impressive and effective revolution is the enhancement in the speed and span of information production, sharing and recycling. It has changed the basic concepts of proprietorship into sharing and preservation into access. Library science is among the fields which have been influenced by this revolution up to a great deal. Library science has been transformed into information or library and information science (LIS). Libraries have been transformed into information centres. Formal tools and techniques have been replaced by the modern technologies. Information and communication technology has become an integral part of the modern libraries. Databases are replacing the huge amounts of inventories. Resource sharing has become a necessary requirement and is easier through modern techniques. The previously required basic skills have also been of lesser primary requisites. Along with strong and in depth knowledge of cataloguing and classification skills, nowadays, know how of databases, copy catalogue and reaching the sources available online has also taken an important place. Lengthy and complex subject headings have been replaced by the keywords. It has also transformed the overall routines, activities and behaviours of the LIS professionals. At the time, there is no concept of an effective, efficient and impressive library service without the ICT aids. Advanced countries are no doubt, ahead in this area but the gap, known as digital divide that had been between advanced countries and developing countries is eliminating and being abridged with the passage of time. Internet connectivity has become a basic requirement for the libraries and LIS professionals. As mentioned earlier, it has transformed the behaviour of the LIS professionals too. The use of computers was started in Pakistani libraries during 1987 (Mahmood, 1996). The Internet was introduced to general public and organizations in Pakistan during the year 1991, previously used only by some multinational companies and airline industry; some of the libraries were also among the organizations that embraced this technology during the mid 1990s. In the mid of 1999, the number of Internet users was between 60 to 70 thousands, which was expected to reach up to 200,000 with an evident growth of 8-9% per month (Saeed et al., 2000). According to Mahmood and Shafique (2007), a rapid growth had been seen in the ICT during last few years. In January, 2007, Pakistan Telecommunication Authority reported the number of Internet users exceeding 12 millions with 1,898 Internet cities in Pakistan. There were 160 cities in Pakistan which had been provided with wireless local loop services, having 1.57 million subscribers, increasing from 81, 030 only within a period of two years. This data shows a rapid and heavy impact of the ICTs on the Pakistani society. The society is emerging into an information society. Libraries, being an important part of the society and library personnel being the important service provider to this emerging information society have also been in a transition phase.

Internet is one of the most important and effective tools and resource in ICT. Internet is such an information super market that when you enter it to purchase or acquire some thing of your need, there are so many options available to satisfy your need exactly and relevantly that you thought of one thing and got some thing else. You wanted to get some thing from vegetables but after entering the market, you saw the fruits with such a packaging and display that they attracted your attention and you spent all of your money and time on browsing selecting and acquiring them and forgot your basic need that drove you to this market for a while. Therefore, a need was felt to conduct a study to know how connected and in contact with other world are the people associated with profession of information in Pakistan. This study has been conducted to know the Internet use behaviour of the LIS professionals in Pakistan. It has been tried to include all the segments and parts of the LIS community from Pakistan in this study. The population includes the faculty, the practicing librarians in different capacities, the library support staff and the graduate students who are the potential professionals in the coming days.

Objectives and Methods

This study has been designed to serve the following objectives:

* To know the status of Internet access and use facilities in the libraries of Pakistan.

* To develop the understanding and behaviour of library and information science (LIS) professionals regarding Internet use and the contents.

* To know the level of online assistance by LIS personnel in performing their technical / professional responsibilities.

* To know the online communication trends of LIS community in Pakistan.

* To find out the prospects and possibility of online surveys' success among the LIS personnel in Pakistan.

A simple questionnaire consistent of 15 main and some sub questions was developed and uploaded on World Wide Web (www). The questionnaire was a blend of close ended questions with some options and freedom of entering relevant data by respondents. A message through three popular online list serves of LIS professionals in Pakistan was delivered with a request to respond this questionnaire. These list serves are: Pakistan Library Automation Group (PLAGPK), Pakistan Library Cooperation Group (LIBCOOP) and Pakistan Librarian Welfare Organization (PLWO). PLAGPK is hosting 2781 members, LIBCOOP's members are 737 and PLWO members are 1030 in number (Yahoo, 2010). This is noteworthy that almost all the members overlap in these list serves. All the LIS community using Internet and connected with other colleagues through any online sources was the target population. No sampling was made and it was open to all LIS professionals and students who use ICT. A total of 198 responses were received within three months time after sending a reminder at all three lists. When analyzed the responses, it was revealed that 62 responses were incomplete and were not usable which were discarded. 136 questionnaires were properly filled and responded. These 136 responses were sent by the LIS faculty, professional library practitioners, some paraprofessionals with master degrees in LIS and the LIS graduate students.

Literature Review

This section presents a review of literature available on the topic of ICT, particularly Internet use in Pakistani libraries. The literature states that the use of computers was first seen during the decade of 1980s in Pakistani libraries, which is three decades later as compared with the American libraries, where it was started during the...

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