Asian, African, and Middle Eastern Section, ACRL

SECOND INTERNATIONAL CONFERENCE ON ACADEMIC LIBRARIES, Feb. 12-15, 2013

Here is a report on the conference written by Dr. R.N. Sharma. For a copy of the report with photos please click here.

 

Academic Librarians Discuss Cloud Computing at an

International Conference

R. N. Sharma

Cloud computing is an emerging area in the profession of Library and Information Science but India took the lead to host the Second International Conference on Academic Libraries with the theme “Academic Library Services Through Cloud Computing: Moving Libraries to the Web.”  This conference was held on the beautiful campus of Guru Gobind Singh Indraprastha University (GGSIP) in New Delhi from February 12-15, 2013, and attracted academic librarians from many countries including Australia, England, France, India, Mauritius, Switzerland, and the United States.

Marshall Breeding an authority on cloud computing and a well-known author/speaker was the plenary speaker on the opening day and he spoke on the “Cloud Based Technologies Enable Large Scale Collaboration for Academic Libraries.”  During his talk he mentioned many new and important developments in the field of library automation and the need to keep-up with the developments for the benefit of all users because cloud computing libraries will be relieved from maintaining hardware and software.  It will also lead to collaboration among libraries.  In his view “Globally shared data and metadata models have the potential to achieve new levels of operational efficiencies.”  He added that the predictions are that within five years, all library collections, systems, and services will be driven into the cloud.

Dr. Arthur Smith of the Online Computer Library Center (OCLC) during his plenary talk spoke on the cross linking of data on OCLC World Share Platforms: Features and Technologies.”  He is of the view that users and librarians are more interested in finding the information and answers to their questions regardless of the source from where they get the information.  According to him OCLC’s WorldCat is the best solution to all their questions because it “is browser based catalog module embedded with numerous cross-linking features of different functionalities.”  He added that “through OCLC WorldCat platform libraries data is moved to web, i.e., “moving libraries to web of data.”  He said that “it’s an imperative for the libraries to move from cataloguing to cata-linking in this cloud computing environment.”

Professor Heather Lea Moulaison of the University of Missouri Library School spoke on “Linked Data in the Cloud” and said “it is an exciting time in librarianship, as academic libraries move to the cloud and re-envision how their data should be stored and made accessible.” But she advised librarians to get proper training and plan well before introducing cloud computing in their libraries.

Mr. Toshiro Aoyama, Chief Librarian, University of Mauritius told the delegates that in Mauritius, “libraries are using cloud computing program and technology advancement and the users like it.”

Ravindra N. Sharma in his keynote address “Academic Libraries and Technology in the Twenty-First Century” discussed why a majority of developing nations are behind in introducing technology in their academic libraries.  He mentioned that poverty, hunger, illiteracy, lack of planning, leadership, wars in Asia, Africa, and the Middle East, and expensive computers and software are the main reasons.  The poor nations have the least access to information, and information poverty is closely linked to economic poverty.  He suggested that rich nations of the world and the United Nations should make a commitment to work together to remove all barriers in the new global environment of cooperation, development and resource sharing to help academic libraries of developing nations succeed and invest wisely in introducing technology including cloud computing for the benefit of information seekers.

Dr. Nicholas Fleury of Switzerland International Organization for Standardization informed the delegates that to date 19,500 standards have been developed on different aspects in the world but no standards have been developed yet on cloud computing.

Professor Alan Hopkinson of Middlesex University, London, England spoke on the topic of  “What We Need to Know about Cloud Computing in Academic Libraries.”  He mentioned that libraries in developing nations are moving to cloud in patches and cautioned the libraries by saying “Do not throw yourself into the cloud until the fog clears.”

Dr. Paul Pauline of France spoke on “Why Should You Choose Cloud Koha to Manage Your Library?”  He said that Koha is an Integrated Library System (ILS) that has all features needed by a library to manage printed collections and it is easy to integrate with other web applications, like CMS (Drupal and Joomla).  He added Koha does not require Java and any other dedicated software and can be operated with any operating system like Microsoft’s  Windows, Apple’s Mac OS-X, and the Free Software Foundation’s GNU/Linux as well as on your smartphone or tablet and it is very easy to upgrade.  Koha was cloud compatible software before cloud existed.

Edward Corrado of the State University of New York (SUNY) at Binghamton, New York, USA told the delegates that most of the librarians in the United States have moved to cloud in one way or other.  He said “Some of the libraries have got discovery service, e-mail service on cloud and are further moving ahead step-by-step sharing resources among libraries.”

The highlight of the conference was an excellent plenary talk by Dr. N. Vijayaditya, retired Director General of the National Informatics Center, and a fellow of National Academy of Sciences, India.  His topic was “Cloud Computing Indian Initiatives.”  He discussed information technology and challenges and said that cloud computing was introduced in 1996 with the introduction of Hotmail, Amazon Web Service in 2006, Gmail, and Microsoft Azure in 2007. He explained various models and services of cloud computing and discussed how technology has changed the landscape of Information Technology.  It has resulted in “more access, faster access with economical resources.”  He mentioned that according to Forbes survey “Cloud computing market will reach $241 billion by 2020 and cloud based services will grow from $12.1 billion to $35.6 billion in 2015.”  India is adopting fast to the cloud computing but he warned that the privacy, security, legal jurisdiction and other concerns of cloud computing must be addressed for academic and other types of libraries.  Dr. Vijayaditya’s forceful speech made a deep impact on the packed audience and they gave him a loud and long applause.

Over one hundred librarians, library educators, IT professionals, and other prominent leaders from all over the world presented papers and talks in various sessions in this well organized conference.  It included a pre-conference tutorial on cloud computing, poster session, panel discussions, presentation of papers, two excellent cultural programs of Indian dances, and sitar recital.  Many aspects of cloud computing were discussed by various presenters including Cloud Computing Solutions for Moving Library Service to the Web, Cloud Computing Approaches to Globalizing Academic Libraries, Factors Influencing Cloud Computing Solutions, and Education, Training, and Research on Cloud Computing in Library Sector.  The conference emphasized the new roles academic librarians must play in the changing environment of technology and adopt new management style to prepare academic libraries for the next generation of students, faculty, scholars, and other users in the twenty-first century.

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R. N. Sharma, Ph.D. is Dean of Library at Monmouth University, New Jersey.  He was Chair of the International Relations Committee of the Association of College Research Libraries (ACRL) and Chair of Asian, African, and Middle Eastern Section (AAMES) Section of the ACRL.

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