"The Use of Internet by Library and Information Science Distance Learners of Annamalai University, India"

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1 ABSTRACT "The Use of Internet by Library and Information Science Distance Learners of Annamalai University, India" Dr. S. Ravi Professor and Head Library and Information Science Wing Mentor, Commonwealth Youth Programme Directorate of Distance Education Annamalai University, Annamalainagar Tamilnadu, India E-resources are mushrooming online, on the web and in CD-ROM format. This phenomenon is due to the rapid advancement of information and communication technologies including the internet and digitizing techniques. The quantum of e-resources are growing larger although no exact number is available. In addition, a considerable amount of resources are now published electronically. This significantly enlarges the size of the electronic resources pool. Electronic resources have become one of the most important aspect of a digital library. The study reveals that slightly over one third (40%) of the Library and Information Science distance learners of Annamalai University had less than 2 hours of duration of Internet access, followed by those with 2-3 hours of duration of Internet access (29.17%). It was also found that out of the total 120 respondents, (30.83%) of them search documents in websites with the help of library staff. Keywords: Distance Learners, Internet, E-resources, CD-ROM, E-journals, Websites. 1. INTRODUCTION Education is a fundamental right enshrined in the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights. But still millions of people deprived of education even today. Indian Higher Education System is one of the largest in the world having about 450 Universities and 30,000 Colleges offering formal education. The faculty strength is about 6 lakh with an estimated enrolment 160 lakhs students. Despite the impressive expansion access to higher education measured in terms of Gross Enrolment Ratio (GER) could not go beyond 11 % during India s ratio is very low compared with the World average of 23.2 % % for countries in transition % for the developed countries and The GER was a mere 6.70 % in Rural Regions as against 19.9 % in Urban India. The GER was 9.1% for Females as against 12.4 % Males. India aims to increase the GER to 21% by the end of 12 th Plan with an interim target of 15% by the end of 11 th Plan. 22 % for Asian countries. To achieve this, the enrolments in Universities and Colleges needs to be substantially raised at an annual rate 9% to reach 21 million by This requires an additional enrolment of 8.7 lakh students in Universities and 61.3 lakh in Colleges. This task could not be accomplished by the Universities and Colleges through formal education. Distance education has really opened a new window of opportunities for those who desire for further studies. The whole purpose of providing Distance education is to provide 1

2 cost-effective, quality education to large sections of our population including those living in remote and far flung areas. The quality of higher education in India requires dynamic changes and development in the teaching-learning process. The countries with advanced education systems developed extensive teaching learning strategies, planned to train their students for a wider market place, through the ways of lectures, seminars, workshops, handouts, and Web-based tutorials. The faculty in India must identify and use new teaching strategies designed to support the teaching, learning, and research goals of the university. The study is the first of its kind to assess the use of internet and e-resources by the distance learners of the Annamalai University. Its findings should help the University in its plans and programmes related to e- learning and strengthen pertinent resources and services of its libraries. 2. REVIEW OF LITERATURE Parameshwar and Patil s (2009) paper highlights a large portion of user population in the university are aware about the internet, but they do not know all its techniques and applications. Further, a few users of the university still have no knowledge about the internet and related applications. For this purpose, there is need for effective use education, to develop awareness and knowledge of the users. More efforts by librarian at Gulbarga University are needed to education users to effectively use the internet and its techniques and applications. Andrews (1993) has examined perceptions of LexisNexis (and their perceptions of the training that they received) by administering questionnaires and structured interviews to eighteen legal professionals and law librarians. Andrews asks interviewees about the usability of the Lexis system as it stood in 1994 (which, it should be noted, has changed significantly since then). The user interface is regarded as a significant barrier to usage (although, interestingly, the author highlights that suggestions to make the interface more in-line with standard PC/Mac interfaces that seem to be based on legal professionals comparing Lexis to software packages of the time rather than to other online systems). Lehmann and Renfro (1991) have examined the attitudes of humanities faculty members at the University of Pittsburgh toward the usage of on-line databases. They have found four determinants that influence the use of on-line databases by these humanities faculty members. These determinants are content, connectivity, user-friendliness, and cost. The humanities faculty members see content as the most important determinant. They feel that cost is the least important of the determinants. Kannappanavar and Rajanikanta s (2008) paper highlights the use of e-learning resources in medical colleges. The study has found that Medical education popularized only after the independence of the country. It is found that majority of the colleges under the study area have e-information resources, e-databases. Almost all colleges under study are also becoming members of a consortium. As far as the infrastructure facilities are concerned, almost all colleges under study have provided very good infrastructure facilities to their libraries to serve their clients effectively. Varatharajan and Chandrashekara (2007) have found that digital libraries and digitization play an important role in preserving and disseminating knowledge in art and culture, education, science and technology, literature and humanities, media and entertainment, cultural heritage, and history. In India, a substantial number of libraries and information centres have initiated digital library activities. Indian society has created and preserved the resources of traditional and cultural heritage in various forms; however, thousands of ancient books and manuscripts that remain in perishable palm leaves urgently 2

3 need digitization. This article describes some of the digital libraries and institutional repositories of India. Lohar and Roopashree (2006) have analyzed the collected data to cover the use of electronic resources and how the electronic resources have improved the academic career of the faculty and also the problems that are faced in using the electronic resources. They conclude that the main intention of the use of electronic resources has been the academic interest of the users. 3. OBJECTIVES The objectives of the study are to analyze the patterns of use of Internet and IT skills of the Library and Information Science (LIS) Distance Learners of the Annamalai University, and problems faced by them while using the Internet. 4. METHODOLOGY Keeping in view the above objectives, a well structured questionnaire was prepared to collect the pertinent data from the LIS distance learners of Annamalai University. For this purpose a total of 150 questionnaires were distributed to the respondents.out of 150 questionnaires distributed, 120 found valid which were analysed, tabulated and interpreted with appropriate findings and conclusions. 5. RESULTS AND DISCUSSION Analysis of data is the ultimate step in research process. It is the link between raw data and significant results leading to findings and conclusions. The present study reports the analysis of data gathered through the questionnaire designed for Library and Information Science distance learners of Annamalai University, India. The responses are coded and characterized by age,gender and course of study. Table1 Age wise Distribution of Respondents Age No. of Respondents Percentage Below Above

4 Below Above 40 Series1 Figure 1: Age wise Distribution of Respondents A study of data in table-1 indicates the age wise distribution of respondents. It could be noted that out of the total 120 respondents, per cent of them belong to the age group years and per cent of them come in the age group of years. In this study, per cent of the respondents age is in the range of below 20 years and 10 per cent of them are found in the age group of above 40 years. It is observed that 8.34 per cent of the respondents belong to the age group years and the rest 6.67 per cent of them belong to the age group of years. It is concluded from the above table that majority of the respondents are found to be in the age group of Table 2 Course wise Distribution of Respondents Course No. of Respondents Percentage Master of Library and Information Science (M.L.I.S.) Bachelor of Library and Information Science (B.L.I.S.) Certificate in Library and Information Science (C.L.I.S.) Figure 2: Course wise Distribution of Respondents 4

5 The study of data in table-2 indicates the course wise distribution of respondents. It could be noted that out of the total 120 respondents, 53.34% of them are B.L.I.S. Students and 30% of them are M.L.I.S. students and16.66% of the respondents are C.L.I. S. students. Table 3 Gender wise Distribution of Respondents Gender No. of Respondents Percentage Male Female Figure 3: Gender wise Distribution of Respondents The study of data in table-3 indicates the gender distribution of respondents. It could be noted that out of the total 120 respondents, more than two thirds of the respondents (60.84%) belong to the female group and the rest one third of them (39.16%) are male. It is concluded that female students constitute more in number than male students, indicating the preference of LIS Education by the female students in Tamilnadu. Table 4 Duration of Access to Internet Duration No. of Respondents Percentage Less than 2 hours hours hours hours Above 5 hours Figure 4: Duration of Access to Internet The data in Table 4 shows that slightly over one third of the respondents (40%) had less than 2 hours of duration of Internet access, followed by those with 2-3 hours of duration of Internet access (29.17%). The respondents with 3-4 hours of Internet access were 13.34%, 5

6 while 9.16 % respondents had used the Internet for above 5 hours. About 8.33% using the Internet 4-5 hours. The majority of respondents had less than 2 hours of accessing the Internet. Table 5 Frequency of Library visit Duration No. of Respondents Percentage Daily Thrice a Week Twice a Week Once in a Week Once in a fortnight The frequency of library visits by the students is usually influenced by factors such as collection, organization, and maintenance of the library resources along with the facilities and services. It could be noted that out of the total 120 respondents, 51.67% of them make daily library visit, 23.34% of them make library visit thrice a week, 13.33% of them make library visit twice a week, 8.33% of the respondents make library visit once in a week, 3.33% of the respondents make library visit once in a fortnight. It could be seen from the above table that library visit of daily takes the first in order reporting among the LIS distance learners of Annamalai University. Table 6 Respondents mode of searching documents in the Library Documents No. of Respondents Percentage Library Catalogue Library Staff Directly search in the stack Library website Online database Figure 5: Respondents mode of searching documents in the Library Data presented in table-6 indicate the respondents mode of searching documents in the library. It could be noted that out of the total 120 respondents, per cent of them search documents with the help of the library website, per cent of them search documents directly in the library, per cent of them search documents with the help of library catalogue, 15 per cent of the respondents search documents in the library with the help of 6

7 online database, 8.33 per cent of the respondents search documents in the library with the help of Library staff. Table 7 Level of Internet and computer literacy Variables Number Percentage Expert Average Below Average The respondents were asked to indicate their level of Internet and computer literacy. It is evident from Table 7 that majority of the respondents (48.33%) have an expert level of Internet and computer literacy. Only 20 % admitted that they are having average level of internet and computer literacy % of the respondents reported that they have below average level of Internet and computer literacy. Table 8 Place of Internet and electronic resources access Variables Number Percentage Home University Cafe Table 8 highlights the location from where the Internet and electronic resources are mostly accessed by the distance learners of Annamalai University. A majority of the respondents i.e. 45% access the Internet from the Internet cafe, while 36.66% access from home, 18.34% use University Library for accessing the Internet and electronic resources. Table 9 Purpose of using Internet Purpose Number Percentage Related to course work Updating subject knowledge Entertainment For research work For writing papers Figure 6: Purpose of using Internet 7

8 From the table-9, it is obvious that most of the respondents 53.34% use internet for studying course work, 22.50% of respondents use for entertainment and 10.83% respondents use for updating subject knowledge, 8.33 percent of respondents use for writing papers and 5% of users for research work. Table 10 Problems faced by the users Variables Number Percentage Difficulty in finding relevant information Overload of information on the Internet Virus Data authenticity Table 10 depicts the problems faced by the users in surfing the internet % of the respondents find it difficult to get the relevant information from the Internet, % find overload of information on the Internet, 20% felt problem of virus in the computer and 7.5% of the respondents reported that data available on the Internet is not much authentic. Table 11 Use of Search Engines Search No. of Respondents Percentage Engine Google Yahoo AltaVista Rediff Total Figure 7: Use of Search Engine A study of data in table-11 indicates the respondent s use of search engines. It was assessed with the help of four frequently used search engines.65% of respondents use Google search engine,17.50 % use Yahoo, % use Rediff. Table 12 General assessment about the University library Opinion No. of Respondents Percentage Excellent Good Poor Very poor No Opinion

9 Figure 8: General assessment about the University library Data presented in table-12 indicate the respondents assesment on library services. It could be noted that out of the total 120 respondents, per cent report that the services of the library are Good, per cent of them report that the services of the library are excellent,15 per cent of them report that they have no opinion about the library services per cent of the respondents report that the library services are poor, and 10 per cent of the respondents report that the library services are very poor. 6. RECOMMENDATIONS Based on the findings of the study the following recommendations are made: Information and Communication Technology theory and practical should be given more emphasis in the curriculum of LIS distance education programmes. Libraries of distance education should subscribe more e-journals and e-databases. Orientation and training progammes should be organized by the university library at regular intervals for keeping the students with the nascent developments in the field. Information regarding the new websites with their resources should be kept informed to the students regularly. The library staff should be trained periodically to keep abreast with the latest developments in the field. 7. CONCLUSION The library environment has currently undergone drastic changes in terms of collections, organisation and services. The proliferation of e-resources has had a significant impact on the way the student community accesses and use information. The advantages of e- resources have drawn attention of the student community to a great extent. Accordingly, these resources have occupied a significant place in the collection and budget of almost all libraries. The study showed that Internet has radical impact on the changing higher education environment. It is obvious that the Internet use among LIS distance learners of Annamalai University, India is increasing day by day. Library and Information Science curriculum oriented resources available online are inadequate as compared to online academic resources in Sciences. The other issues are related to lack of any formal training about how to locate these resources and services., The University needs to improve its collection of e-resoures, services, IT infrastructure and bandwidth for improving services to the distance learners. 9

10 REFERENCES Andrews, C.J. (1993). User Perceptions of CALR. Unpublished MSc thesis, City University, London, UK. Kannappanavar, B.U., & Rajanikanta, S.T. (2008). Effective Use of E-Learning Materials in Medical College Libraries in Karnataka: A study. SRELS Journal of Information Management, 45(4), Lehmann, S., & Renfro, P. (1991). Humanists and electronic information services: Acceptance and resistance. College and Research Libraries, 52 (5), Lohar, M.S. & Roopashree, T.N. (2006). Use of electronic resources by faculty members in B.I.E.T., Davanagere: a survey. SRELS Journal of Information Management, 43(1), Parameshwar, S & Patil, D.B (2009). Use of the Internet by Faculty and Research scholars at Gulbarga University Library. Library Philosophy and Practice. Retrieved from Varatharajan, N. & Chandrashekara, M. (2007). Digital Library Initiatives at Higher Education and Research Institutions in India, Library Philosophy and Practice. Retrieved from About the Author Prof. S.Ravi is presently working as Professor and Head, Library and Information Science Wing and Mentor, Commonwealth Youth Programme, at the Directorate of Distance Education, Annamalai University, India. 20 Candidates were awarded Ph.D.(Doctor of Philosophy) and 48 Candidates were awarded M.Phil (Master of Philosophy) in Library and Information Science under his guidance and supervision. He has published 12 articles in International Journal and 19 in National Journals. Serving as a Member in Journal Editorial Boards in National and International Journals, edited 6 books. Visited Australia, Singapore, Malaysia, Brunai Darussalam and United Arab Emirates for attending and presenting papers in International Conferences. Recipient of Best Teacher Award by the Annamalai University. Member in several National and International Professional Organizations. Totally having 36 years of service which inclusive of 11 years of Professional experience and 25 years of service in Post graduating teaching, research and academic administration. 10

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