Building Digital Resources: Creating Facilities at INSA

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  • Building Digital Resources: CreatingFacilities at INSAUSHAMUJOO-MUNSHI*


    Today libraries are at a transition phase where twin processesof paper-based environment and changing information-seek-ing patterns in the electronic/digital environment go hand-in-hand. Hence, all components of the information chain are in astate of ux. The rapid growth in computer and communica-tion technologies have greatly beneted the advanced coun-tries, while the developing countries have not adequatelyreaped the benets of such facilities to the desired extent. Theapplication of information technology (IT) in India startedon a very modest scale. During the past decade or so severalIndian libraries have initiated activities to create, acquire,and provide access to electronic resources. The establishmentof networks has had a great impact on libraries and informa-tion centers (LICs) in the country, and have further buttressedthe ITapplications in the LICs to a certain extent. The emer-gence of the Internet, especially theWorldWideWeb (www),added a new dimension to information creation and delivery,which also globally triggered digitization programs. Buyingaccess or acquiring digital resources started taking root. Thedigitization of records (document management) crept in,which attracted librarians and people from other professionalbackgrounds into records management. This was followed bycontent management, (currently a popular phrase in this partof the world), also known as digitization. The digitization ofdocuments is now becoming a major activity in libraries andarchives. The Indian National Science Academy (INSA) is apremier scientic body engaged in the dissemination of infor-mation to the scientic community at large, publishing andpromoting scientic endeavors, besides having other multifa-ceted human welfare-oriented activities. The growing accep-tance of digital media has resulted in libraries buying and

    Intl. Inform.& Libr. Rev. (2003), 35, 281^309doi:10.1016/S1057-2317(03)00014-6

    *Head, Informatics Center, Indian National Science Academy, Bahadur Shah Zafar Marg, NewDelhi,110 002, India. E-mail:;

    1057-2317/03/$ - see front matterr 2003 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

  • providing access to Internet resources, acquiring CD-ROM-based data-sets, and providing services for stand alone or net-worked CD-ROM environments, and digitizing documents.TheAcademy library facilitates all three.TheAcademy has in-itiated several digitization initiatives for content developmentand management by way of the scanning of publications, im-age management, and conversion from digital documents toweb-enabled resources. The Academy has adopted a three-pronged approach of providing access to digital resources,and acquiring and creating digital resources, for which INSAsuitably augments with IT infrastructures and takes initiativesto provide links to requisite data sets for the benet of its users.INSAdeveloped and provided IT facilities at a modest scale toits users at a time when only a limited few had developed suchfacilities in the country.The facilities developed at INSAaugurwell with the initiation of pilot and sponsored projects pertain-ing to digitization of records andmaking provision for creatingdigital resource bases, thereby contributing to the nationaldigital repository on the one hand and providing access andvisibility to national resources on the other.The article dwellsupon various elements that have contributed to providingservices in the changing information seeking patterns of usersin the electronic environment, and the building of digitalresource bases, while facilitating others to get involved in digi-tal content creation activities. It is hoped that such endeavorsshall help in the building up of a national digital knowledgeresource base for the country, and INSAwould in the processact as a facilitator.

    r 2003 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.


    Today libraries are at a transition phase where the twin processes of paper-based environments and changing information-seeking patterns in theelectronic/digital environment go hand-in-hand; hence all components ofthe information chain are in a state of ux.Over the last 50 years or so therehas been a radical change in the conduct of routine business in many orga-nizations due to the developments in computer and communication tech-nologies.These technologies havebecome pervasive in allwalks of life.Thishas buttressed the application of InformationTechnology (IT) tools andtechniques in library and information centers as well. However, it appearsthat rapid growth in computer and communication technologies havegreatly beneted the advanced countries while the developing countries


  • have not adequately reaped the benets of such facilities to the desired ex-tent.The application of IT in India startedon averymodest scale. During the

    past decade or so several libraries in the country have initiated activities tocreate, acquire, and provide access to electronic resources. The activitystartedwith the development of the computerized catalogues, which pavedthe way for automated circulation functions with modest facilities. Asthings developed circulation systems could interact with catalogues, whichfurther paved the way for automating more services with additional fea-tures made possible by technological advances in both hardware and soft-ware. The issues pertaining to standards and formats were partly solved.Other databases were created, and functions such as cataloguing, acquisi-tions, serials, circulation, interlibrary loans, nancial control, stock man-agement, and user details were all integrated and automated to a certainextent.The electronic communication of information/data fromone libraryto another had its initiation using dial-up connections. Remote databaseaccess for providing reference/bibliographic services also began. And, achain of networks was established nationwide at all levels (local/regional/national) to promote resource sharing. These networks impacted Indianlibraries and information centers (LICs) and have further buttressedthe ITapplications in the LICs to a certain extent1.The emergence of the Internet, especially theWorldWideWeb (www),

    added a new dimension to information creation and delivery, which alsoglobally triggered digitization programmes. Buying access or acquiring di-gital resources also started taking root. By this time, the digitization of re-cords (document management) crept in, which attracted librarians,besides people from other professional backgrounds, into records manage-ment. This activity remained in vogue, but the very concept of content orknowledge management was missing because the whole process of exibil-ity and highprecision recall and relevancywere not addressed.The processwas more like nding a document or drawing some data.This gave rise tocontent management, which is presently a popular phrase in this part ofthe world, and is more often referred to as digitization.The digitization ofdocuments is now becoming a major activity in libraries and archives.The libraries and archives that contain some of these valuable resources

    are either beginning to digitize their documents or are trying to ndresources to do so.While a substantial proportion of libraries have auto-mated their basic library functions, particularly retro-conversion of theircatalogue records and circulation activities, some provide for automatedpersonalized information services, web-enabled information services, and

    1Usha, M.M. (Ed). (2002) Information management in newmillennium. New Delhi: Allied Pub-lishers, p. 679.


  • digital content access and acquisition. Only a very few, however, have ini-tiated digitized content creation activity. The initiation of digital contentcreation is limited to digitization of theses and dissertations, Hindi gazetterecords, etc., by the libraries. And, individual organizations and publishersare now making full texts of selected journals available on the web.Mindful of the Governments concern to provide facilities for state-of-

    the-art libraries, with an emphasis on content creation, there is a denitetrend in the move from traditional to electronic/digital practices basedupon the changing information-seeking behaviour of users in the electronicenvironment. Several funding bodies have come forward to promote IT-based information generation, organization, and dissemination activities.Agencies like the former National Information System for Science andTechnology (formerlyknownasNISSAT; now in acronym limbo) Programunder Department of Scientic and Industrial Research (DSIR), wereinitiated with the objective of organizing information support facilities forresearchers and academicians. It has been continuously reorienting itsprograms and activities in tune with changing global scenarios and na-tional eorts of liberalization andglobalization of economies.Major eortsof NISSAT have been to establish linkages between information resourcedevelopers and users in India and other countries. Its current thrust is ondigitization and content creation. In addition, the Ministry of Communi-cation and InformationTechnology (MIT), the Ministry of Human Re-sources Development (MHRD), the Council of Scientic and IndustrialResearch (CSIR), the Defense Research Development Organization(DRDO), and others are also currently funding such initiatives. Theseagencies have extended grant-in-aid facilities to a number of organizationsworthbillions of rupees over the last few years to support various programsandprojects in the area of information generation, organization, and disse-mination.These facilities are and have furtherbuttressed the use of IT toolsand products by the libraries and information centers in the country.The present document attempts to focus on some initiatives taken by the

    Indian National Science Academy (INSA) pertaining to creating facilitiesfor building digital resources. All initiatives indicated belowhave been exe-cuted by the INSA Library, which was renamed the Informatics Center in1996, emphasizing the changing catalytic role the center plays in fomentingchanges in information retrieval, dissemination, andcommunication chan-nels in the Academy. However, in the present paper, both the terms Li-brary and Informatics Center have been used for entities representingthe INSA Library in general.The INSA, established in1935, is a high-level bodyof scientists represent-

    ing all branches of science and technology. INSA is chargedwith the objec-tives of promoting science in India, safeguarding the interests of Indianscientists, establishing formal tieswith internationalbodies, and harnessing


  • scientic knowledge for the cause of humanity and the national welfare.INSA programs are staed by only 92 regular sta members and a fewprofessionals for discrete projects, serving the large, widely-dispersed In-dian science and technology community.


    INSA has suitably augmented its IT infrastructure. Prior to 1994 onlya couple of stand alone computers and printers were in place. Since 1995provision has been made to provide access to computers to all.The presentinfrastructure stands at over 90 computers (of various makes and modelsK IBM, Macintosh, and the like), high-end servers, printers, (both net-worked and others), scanners, CD-writers, and related state-of-the-artequipment for carrying out thework in a changedelectronic oce environ-ment.In addition, the CD-Net systemwas the rst of its kind installed in India,

    in1995; it will soonbe upgraded.The system has12 nodes located at variouspoints where the science/technology and research/development commu-nities can access these facilities. The Academy began providing accessto CD-based information services through its CD-Net system in the LANenvironment in the Guest House as far back as 1995, when such facilitieswere almost non-existent in India.The components of this systemare givenbelow:

    CD-Net towerModel-556M-Q6680586DX@ 66MHzQuad speed150m/s SCSIdrive16MBRAM32 bitSVGA color monitor (memory1MB)1 44,1 2MB

    CD-ROM drive bays 56No. of drives 28Ethernet card (32 bit)

    660MB-capacity each153 6 kB/s data transfer rateor wide SCSI interface with300 kB/s data transfer rate150ms average


  • Network server80586DX@ 66MHz16MBRAMexpandable to 64MB32 bitIGB (with provision for second H/D)SVGA color monitor (memory1MBVRAM)1 44,1 2MB

    CD network nodes (12 nodes)(IBMPCs) 80486 CPU@ 66MHz32-bit EISAbus4MBRAMexpandable up to 64MB1.2.1.44MB FDD320MB/HDD6 expansion slots SVGA color monitor (memory1MBVRAM)(withVGA color display card Res.1024*768, 256 colors)101keys keyboard2 serial, and1parallel portRTC with battery backupEthernet card 32 bit

    LANaccessoriesUTP (within the buildings)BNC (between the buildings)Hubs

    Modem14400/56000 KBPS error correction

    Backup network server80586DX@ 66MHz16MBRAMexpandable to 64MB32 bitIGB (with provision for second H/D)SVGA color monitor (memory1MBVRAM)1 44,1 2MB

    Network software(Novell NetWare)

    The web server is a fairly a high end Sun Solaris systemwith the follow-ing conguration:


  • Sun re 880 server@ 750MHz.8GB memory. 6 36 GB.1.000,10 000 RPM,FC-AL disks, DVD,3 (N+1redundant)power supplies and redundant cooling fan trays17 inch entry color monitor

    PGX64 24-bit color frame buerSoftware on CD

    Type 6 USB power cord kit

    Solaris 8 standard, latest releaseEnglish-only media kit

    10/100 ethernet adapter

    20GB 4 mmDDS-4 internal tape drive

    Scholar PAC workshop compiler 6 02Includes unlimited user domain licensefor C, C++&HPC

    Sunscreen secure net 3 1Unlimited user license for rewall

    The contents of other scientic organizations are also expected to behosted on this server.The campus LAN at INSA consists of a combination of hubs and

    switched and routed networks with ber optics support; enhanced CAT-5UTP cabling and CISCO Catalyst 2924XL Layer-2 Switches with1000BASF-LX/LH Long haul GBIC, CISCO1720 Modular Routers with10/100 Base T Modular Router w/2 WAN slots; and, 8M Flash/32MDRAM. Fig. 1 illustrates the data network solution of INSA.For the present, 289 access points are provided, distributed over three

    buildings:The Informatics Center, the Convention Center, and theJubileeBuilding. Such coverage is also being extended to the canteen, besidesfurther enhancements in convention facilities and the Guest House. It hasbeen planned to provide cyber cafe-type facilities in the Guest House, thusbolstering communication, information retrieval, and information disse-mination. For the present trac scenario, only 64 kbs has been considered.However, as per the future planning for hosting the contents of other


  • science andtechnologyorganizations, the link shall be suitably upgraded tohavebetter broadbandconnectivity.Thiswas also done to reduce the cost ofinvestment at the moment, since other related issues w...


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