Welcome to the blog of the Library & Information Association (Republic of Mauritius). This is a professional blog and we want to keep it clean. Feel free to share your views, seek assistance or troubleshoot any problem you have at hand. We do not pretend to be high tech but discussing with peers may be a beginning to resolve a difficulty. Your comments are most welcome. I hope this blog will be beneficial to all in our LIS community.

P. Hauroo

Library profession in Mauritius and adaptation to changes

The 21st century, is marked as the age of electronic communication where knowledge and technology have become borderless and have become the basis for all appropriate decisions in relation to socioeconomic development of people. Electronic format dominates all spheres of our lives including education, employment, agriculture & industrial environment. As a result of this rapid and continual change in society and in the sphere of technology, the essence and contents of all the professional activities of the entire information profession are changing.

Referring to the Mauritian context, library and information professionals, we are utilizing ICT to keep pace with the problem of information explosion. Information and communication technologies (ICT) are facilitating the process of identification, collection, storing, processing and disseminating of information in most of our libraries and information centres while others are still in the process of implementing the new technologies.

Though, print media is still a major source of information in our libraries, however, this situation is changing in our academic libraries. Our service is usually geared to the needs of our students, academic staff and researchers. Our views to focus only on catalogues and in-house collection and tools are changing direction towards the web where our clients are. We are on the web exposing our resources and capabilities, surfing and exploring online libraries & databases, harvesting and linking via Facebook, Twitter, etc., bringing the power of those tools into our services. It is not only exposing resource collection but also promoting them and developing Information Literacy so that users are better equipped to discern what is of value to them.

We are showing flexibility and responding to changing realities. The skills which we have developed to such high level have to be reinvented. Our knowledge has to be reapplied in this new connected world (Walton, Graham and Varlejs, Jana). We must all be concerned with discovery in a world of awash in information and must recognize that we have a significant role to play in supporting the essential need for ongoing learning by all in a fast changing world.

Though, we may argue that the information professional today faces great challenges, the other side of the coin is that enormous opportunities proliferate on all sides – opportunities to innovate, find new customers, improve existing services and systems, and harness the continuing explosion of information to the organization. Converging technologies are offering opportunities which are beyond the wildest dreams of earlier generations of information workers. For e.g., from our own work station, we can easily links with services, systems and information which were previously either inaccessible or unknown (Pantry 1997:170)

We should always remember that we deal with information and that our skills lie in making information available through time and across borders. We should be quick to embrace the opportunities of new technologies and new approaches and show that this profession is important to the society.

In 2009, Elizabeth Stone Lecture given by Alex Byrne, he is equivocal about the need to change. “we must throw open our door and move out into the highways and byways of the information culture to cultivate a new profession which steps out comfortably in a borderless information world …”

Whether it is in Academic, National, Municipal, School or Special libraries, we all can embrace new information technologies, find new methods and ways of rendering services & communication. Some examples which can enhance our services can be as follows:-

• Computerized systems to facilitate rapid and efficient service.

• Well trained & knowledgeable staff to help with information retrieval.

• Subscription to various online libraries or databases can provide users with unlimited access to information (virtual Library).

• Information literacy program can guide users with skills & techniques for information retrieval.

• A well- equipped library with computers /laptops & ipads, internet & Wifi facilities will encourage members to visit & use library facilities more often.

Much more can be done depending on the budget allocation but even small changes can make a big difference in service provided. We have to hold tight our value for we are one of the few professions to take the long view about the need to preserve and make available without bias the knowledge of the past, present and the future. We have to be very active, encourage and mentor enthusiastic people into the profession, taking the wisdom of the experienced and the energy of the novice to create a new image of the highly communicative profession.

Sources consulted:

University of South Africa. Department of Information Science. 2003. Information professions and Cooperation. Only study guide for AIS102-E. Pretoria. University of South Africa.

Rahman, Anisur. Information and Communication Technologies, Libraries and the Role of Library Professionals in the 21st Century. http://link.springer.com/chapter/10.1007%2F978-3-540-30544-6_69. Accessed on 21/04/2014

IFLA, Byrne A. Promoting the global information commons: a commentary on library and information implications of the WSIS Declaration of principles “Building the information society: a global challenge in the new millennium” Document WSIS/PC-3/DT/6. http://ifla.org


Lalita Takoor

IFLA Trend Report

The library and information landscape is constantly changing with the advent of new technologies. This is a global phenomenon. As an employee working in the library and information sector, we are concerned with the new developments taking place in our work environment and we are fully aware of the impact of these technologies, not only in our workplace but also in society in general. There have certainly been situations in our library where our users whom we serve prove to be more tech-savvy and display more competencies in the use of new technological tools. How do libraries and librarians respond to this changing technological environment?

IFLA Trend Report has identified five “high level trends shaping the information society, spanning access to education, privacy, civic engagement and transformation.”  Before going through the Trend Report, it is recommended to read the IFLA’s Insights Document entitled “Riding the Waves or Caught in the Tide? Navigating the Evolving Information Environment” which “pulls together and summarizes all of the information contained on the Trend Report website for IFLA members. It identifies five high level trends and considers possible future “collision points” between trends affecting the role and identity of libraries.”

According to IFLA, “the Insights Document is the conversation starter for the library community. It’s the ‘way in’ to the Trend Report, and opens up discussion about how information trends are shaping your library, whether it’s a public, academic, specialist or national library, within your region.”  The document is accessible at http://trends.ifla.org/files/trends/assets/insights-from-the-ifla-trend-report_v3.pdf.


The five trends identified are as follows:

Trend 1: New Technologies will both expand and limit who has access to information.

Trend 2: Online Education will democratise and disrupt global learning.

Trend 3: The boundaries of privacy and data protection will be redefined.

Trend 4: Hyper-connected societies will listen to and empower new voices and groups.

Trend 5: The global information environment will be transformed by new technologies.


LIA is encouraging all employees in the library and information sector to go through the document and participate actively in discussion groups to assess the situation at the local level.

Digital library v/s Electronic library v/s Hybrid library

Many of us get confused when using the terms digital library and electronic library. At times these two terms are used interchangeably, almost like synonymous terms. Is there any difference between these two terms? What do you think? Be free to express your views. I am submitting the following definitions which may help us develop a better understanding of the two concepts. The term hybrid library is also defined to provide more clarity. Do post your views and comments.

Digital Library

Collection of electronic resources that provides direct/indirect access to a systematically organized collection of digital objects.

Hybrid Library

Provides services in a mixed-mode, electronic and paper, environment, particularly in a co-coordinated way. Derived from a strand of eLibrary  which explored the issues surrounding the retrieval and delivery of information in these types of environment but also investigated the integration of different electronic services so that single search approach could be offered to the End user.

Virtual Library

Access to electronic information in a variety of remote locations through a local online catalogue or other gateway, such as the internet.


LIS Education: Crossing the Frontiers

The proliferation and velocity of information compelled many countries, both developed and developing, to review the LIS education and focus on changes and realignments over the past two decades. Several universities in South Africa started with a change in the names of the departments such as Departments of Library Science/ Library Studies or Librarianship are known as Departments of Library and Information Science/ Studies. To reflect some incorporated disciplines in the name, the University in Namibia chose Department of Information and Communication Studies, the University of Johannesburg termed its department into Department of Information and Knowledge Management. Moreover, LIS is not confined to the traditional faculty of Humanities or Social Sciences; faculties or schools such as the Centre for Higher Education Development at the University of Cape Town, the Faculty of Management at the University of Johannesburg or the School of Information Technology (with Computer Science) and Informatics (Information Systems) offer LIS programmes equally.

Distance education in LIS is considered irrelevant as the main focus is on education and training for library workers whereby the University of Technology and Polytechnics in South Africa offers vocational education and training qualification. The programme includes subjects such as knowledge management, multimedia, records management, information technology and publishing, and also an increased integration of diverse subjects in order to cater for emerging markets. Information and knowledge management modules that include topics, such as personal information management, tools and techniques of information and knowledge management, strategy formulation and implementation, information and knowledge audits and information consultancy form part of the LIS programme too.

In view to adopt a different learning focus, the Universities of Johannesburg and Stellenbosch have switched from traditional LIS programmes to Information and Knowledge Management. Hence, they offer programmes termed as, for example, BA in Information Science and BCom in Information and Knowledge Management. These aim to train students in the ever-changing electronic environment, provide intellectual competencies and practical skills while applying information and knowledge management principles and prepare them to use information as an important resource in the decision-making process.

The Department of Information Science at the University of Stellenbosch further crossed the line by changing the courses in information science to socio-informatics. The latter could be described as a subject that deals with the relationship and interface between information needs and practices, knowledge of economy and society and knowledge dynamics on computer technology. The programme focuses on theoretical aspects and the practical needs of information specialists and knowledge workers.

The following further shows significant changes in LIS education in several African universities:

  • The University of Zululand offers BA Information Science which includes modules to equip students with skills of basic computer repairs for uninterrupted use of computers and further trouble shooting skills.
  •  Multimedia topics are compulsory modules in the IS programme at the University of Pretoria and media publishing studies form part of the LIS programme at the Moi University.
  •  The Department of Information and Communication Studies at the University of Namibia offer LIS degrees with specialized programmes in media studies.
  • At the University of Botswana, the Department of Library and Information Studies offer various information science topics such as Information and knowledge management, information retrieval, system analysis and design, web management, databases, decision support systems, electronic commerce, networks, etc.

The above changes and challenges in LIS education have received  the support of the Library and Information Association of South Africa (LIASA). The association recognizes the Continuing Education and Professional Development (CEPD) of professionals essential to keep their practices current and relevant, enhance and upgrade skills and encourage the promotion of service standards and acceptable good practice. Through the policy of life-long learning, the faculty members, in addition, are required to keep themselves up to date with developments to ensure quality teaching and research. Furthermore, there exists a general system of external examiners and regular external evaluations for quality control to ensure teaching and research of acceptable quality.

Likewise, in the developed countries, the LIS programs are under constant scrutiny with the view to prepare students for the future, in a world where there is an avalanche of information and continuous change in the workplace. The University of California, Northridge and Valdosta State University in Georgia developed successful programmes with more focus on information science while keeping the established library science studies.  This hybrid approach aims to provide a stronger foundation in the library career while the multidisciplinary focus, in addition, provides opportunities for other career paths.

The acquisition of skills, mainly soft skills, such as analytical ability and communications skills, customer service skills, business and marketing skills, flexibility and adaptability are more valued by employers than traditional technical skills. LIS programs train to locate, filter and evaluate information where librarians are the first and foremost educators of information and information sources. Thus, the curriculum has additional elements such as internships, networking, mentoring and leadership skills in order to equip the students in the changing industry. The American Library Association (ALA) follows this transition closely and ensures the accreditation standards are also developed to meet the varying needs of the discipline.

However, during the accreditation process, many issues are addressed.  The topics of curriculum, quality, and skill sets for the LIS field, the student-to-faculty ratio for appropriate teaching and advising, assessments, placement services and, above all, the viable teaching and learning environment for students are given much consideration. Much emphasis is laid upon comprehensive assessment, systematic curricular review and alignment of syllabi and the need for managed growth and class sizes. The quality of faculty and quality students, and adequate resources to create and maintain a quality programme are measured and, furthermore, studies and surveys are regularly carried out to help develop an ideal LIS programme. Thus, the ALA standards state that the curriculum should integrate the theory, application, and use of technology and that it must be reviewed and evaluated by a variety of stakeholders, including students, faculty, and potential employers.

To sum up, it could be said that there has been a gradual and definite conversion where a multidisciplinary approach and research-based focus form part of the LIS education overseas. In the local context, contrarily, the LIS education has undergone minimal change. With only a modification in the name, the topics of the curricula of LIS have remained more or less the same along with unchanged teaching methods. The inadequacy of relevant and current subjects, in addition to the lack of life-long learning practices of the educators and faculty for the past two decades renders the programme obsolete compared to LIS education offered at the international level. Moreover, the professed associations generated to oversee the developments in LIS remain unvoiced through out the years. The situation is undeniably critical and enormous development is needed to bring LIS education to equal stage in Mauritius.


Chow, Anthony S, Ph.D.,2011. Changing times and requirements: Implications for LIS Education. Library and Information Science Research Electronic Journal. Vol. 21(1).

Ocholla, D. and Bothma, T. Trends, challenges and opportunities of LIS education and training in Eastern and Southern Africa. University of Zululand, University of Pretoria, South Africa.

Lalita Chumun

World Book Day 2012 in Mauritius

The World Book and Copyright Day  is celebrated every year in Mauritius by the National Library. This year the National Library is running the 10th edition and it has organised the following activities:

  1. An elocution contest for Form six students which attracted more than 40 colleges. The final round took place on 23 April 2012 at the National Library and four winners were designated. The theme for the contest was “How to promote reading among youth in Mauritius”.
  2. From 3-5 May 2012, a book festival will be organised at the Port Louis Waterfront. Twenty bookshops and organisations involved in the book trade and publishing industry will offer for sale a variety of reading materials at discounted rate. Other organisations involved in the promotion of reading and the education sector will be present. Many activities around the book will be organised to attract children towards reading and books.
  3. On Saturday 5 May 2012, an interactive session between the public and Mauritian writers will take place from 3  to 4.00 p,m. on the theme “A Coeur Ouvert Avec les Ecrivains”. The audience will be offered the opprotunity to ask questions to the writers on any topic related to their books. This is an innovation this year as far as World Book Day celebrations are concerned in Mauritius.
  4. any other decentralised activities have also been planned in schools, colleges and in municipalities.

The public is invited to participate in all the activities.

Citation Linkers for Effective Information Search in Academic Libraries

The citation linker is a robust searching environment which allows users to search for articles, journals, books and eBooks with the use of minimal metadata, that is, the known citation of an item which generates a list of links to direct the users to the desired resources.

SFX Citation Linker

There are various OpenURL link resolvers available from library automation providers such as the LinkFinderPlus (Endeavor Information Systems), LinkSolver (Ovid Technologies), LinkSource (EBSCO), 0L2 (Fretwell-Downing Informatics), Serials Solutions 360 Link, SFX (Ex Libris), Sirsi Resolver, TOUR (TDNet), VLink (Infor), WebBridge (Innovative Interfaces, Inc.), and WorldCat Link Manager. However, active in about 1,500 libraries around the world, the SFX is the most widely used link resolver due to the number of facilities that it offers.

The SFX has the largest number of OpenURL products installed and it is mainly used as a URL link resolver and a linking solution between libraries. It helps to retrieve full-text effortlessly from the library collection while enabling users to find subscribed resources in licensed databases by providing the citation information without having to know which database should be searched for. Moreover, the SFX directs users to the OPAC for items available in print and if the items are not found in the library collection, the interlibrary loan service shows up. It also provides two ways for accessing a library’s resources:

a) The A-Z list which is a searchable and browsable list of journals that are subscribed by the library. It allows browsing and searching by journal title, category, ISSN, and vendor.

b) The citation linker that helps to quickly find a specific article, book, or issue of a journal.

The citation linker prevents users from performing the usual steps to search for a specific article such as searching the journal in which the article is published, accessing the journal’s webpage through links, locating the specific volume and issue and, finally, looking for the specific article in a particular issue of the journal. The citation linker facilitates searches with minimal effort and citation metadata as follows:

The Article Citation Linker

To locate a particular article, the minimal and sufficient citation metadata are “journal title” or “ISSN”, “volume”, “issue”, “start page”, and “published date”, without the usage of any author metadata such as “last name”, “first name”, and “initials” which are considered unnecessary. Usually, “published year” is also judged as enough to be used as metadata for “published date”.

The Journal Citation Linker

Similar to the article citation linker, the journal citation linker helps to locate a specific issue of a journal quickly with a minimum of metadata. Often, it requires only the exact journal title for searches while the month and day metadata are considered as optional metadata.

The Book Citation Linker

An alternative to the library catalogue and OPAC, the book citation linker is more effective for finding, discovering, and selecting the growing resources. The book citation linker is an essential aid for users to search for books and mostly ebooks because most libraries which are subscribed to ebooks do not include the latter in the catalogue. Therefore, the book citation linker help users locate ebooks while using citation metadata such as “author”, “book title”, “published date” or even the ISBN.

Adding a complementary dimension to the traditional online catalogue, the citation linker furthermore provides many search options such as title, ISSN, ISBN, DOI (Digital Object Identifier), PMID (PubMed Identifier) and so on for users to locate research materials within a much lesser time frame. In short, the citation linker promptly determines if items are available electronically in full-text, if items are available in print in the library, or if items need to be recalled from other libraries through the inter library loan service. Consequently, the citation linker simplifies the search process, routes the information searches to appropriate locations while saving ample time of the users.


Xu, F. The SFX citation linker and its enhancements.

Re-inventing the Online Catalogue

The traditional definition of the library catalogue as a ‘key to exploit the resources of the library’ is now considered as something of the past. Technologies have pushed the limits of the catalogue beyond the holdings of the library, as many academic libraries are nowadays providing pointers in their online catalogue to items not only in their holdings but also to digital contents stored on servers in remote places outside the geographical boundaries of the library.  There has operated a paradigm shift in library operations with a  focus on accessibility to materials, irrespective of their location rather than  on the availability of locally held materials. It matters little, or not at all, for the user then to know where the item is held, provided the librarian provide access to the required document within the premises of the library or even outside the library. The explosive growth of  digital contents on the web backed by a customer-centric policy have led academic libraries in more advanced countries to add machine-readable catalogue records to their online catalogue to link hundred of thousands of URLs with freely available contents.

The Penrose Library at the University of Denver is one such academic libraries which has added links to MARC records and by 1999, the catalogue contained about 1,848 URLs for government documents available freely. Gradually, the library also added URLs with licensed documents, microfilms, full-text online version of  publications, links to publishers’ Web sites, reviews, or tables of contents and online serials. The catalogue search function enables users to locate print and digital content easily as formats are distinguishable from both the browse screens and the full record in the OPAC including the clear display of URLS. Consequently, the library catalogue now not only provides access to its own holdings but also serves as a gateway to web content that the library has selected for its users.

It is worth noting that when the State of Colorado made MARC records for state online publications available on a monthly basis to all libraries, the Penrose Library became the first virtual Colorado depository for state documents with an enhanced access to over 6,000 online titles.

However, several measures are adopted by the library for the smooth running of such platform and written procedures are developed to ensure that the digital materials are integrated effortlessly into the existing workflow. A Catalogue Management Group (CMG) is formed to look after user convenience that minimizes user confusion by providing clickable links to online contents.  It also facilitates interaction between the teams directly affected by the online catalogue. Moreover, a Collection Development Team is put into place to develop policies for selection of online content for inclusion in the catalogue. There are also copy cataloguers in the Monographs Unit who provide systematic access to digital materials.

Since physical processing (barcode, label, etc.) of items is not needed in the digital world, the library is able to load large numbers of records. At  the Penrose Library, loading batch records is accomplished by a team comprised of the head of Technical Services, a catalogue librarian, a catalogue technician, and a student worker. Furthermore, the MARCEdit software is used to manipulate these large record loads.

It is evident that the staffs have responded to the ever changing environment by developing innovative strategies. They were driven by the need of the users and focused on easing accessibility. They saw this as an opportunity to improve and expand their skills too while becoming full-fledged citizens of the digital world. Libraries are evolving over time as digital content is proliferating at an exponential rate. The answer to the question of how to harness the tide of digital information on the web seems to be the provision of a one-stop shop service to access both information held locally and from external sources via a revamped online catalogue with links to full text digital content. It is a model worth studying to be adapted in the local context.

Lalita Chumun


Meagher, Elizabeth S. and Brown, Christopher C., (2010). “Turned loose in the OPAC: URL selection, addition and management process.”, Library High Tech, Vol. 28 No. 3, pp.360-376.