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.



2010 in review

The stats helper monkeys at mulled over how this blog did in 2010, and here’s a high level summary of its overall blog health:

Healthy blog!

The Blog-Health-o-Meter™ reads This blog is on fire!.

Crunchy numbers

Featured image

The average container ship can carry about 4,500 containers. This blog was viewed about 15,000 times in 2010. If each view were a shipping container, your blog would have filled about 3 fully loaded ships.

In 2010, there were 18 new posts, growing the total archive of this blog to 63 posts. There were 11 pictures uploaded, taking up a total of 4mb. That’s about a picture per month.

The busiest day of the year was July 13th with 155 views. The most popular post that day was Vacancies.

Where did they come from?

The top referring sites in 2010 were,,,, and

Some visitors came searching, mostly for mauritius examination syndicate, innovation in libraries, mauritius examination syndicate vacancies, university of technology mauritius vacancies, and mahatma gandhi.

Attractions in 2010

These are the posts and pages that got the most views in 2010.


Vacancies January 2009


Organisational Behaviour: Corporate Culture April 2009


Book/Website review November 2008


Organisational Behaviour: victim of workplace bullying? April 2009


Mobile Computing & Libraries January 2010

Preservation of Library Materials in Mauritius

During the period  September  27 to October 01, 2010, Ms Claire  Dekle, Preservation Specialist and Senior Book Conservator at the Library of Congress was in Mauritius on an invitation of the US Embassy. Ms Claire delivered three lectures on the topic of preservation and conservation, organised two training sessions at the National Library and had a round table with members of the library associations. People working in the LIS field in Mauritius were exposed to the techniques of preservation and conservation as practised in the US. During the round table,  various points were raised and discussions were not limited to preservation of library materials only.  It would be good if we reflect on the various issues raised.

Preservation role of libraries: In Mauritius, all libraries are not involved in the long term preservation of library materials. To avoid any confusion, let us define the terms first. In the LIS profession, ‘preservation’ is “concerned with maintaining or restoring access to artifacts, documents and records through the study, diagnosis, treatment and prevention of decay and damage” [Wikipedia]. The term should not be confused with ‘conservation’  which “refers to the treatment and repair of individual items to slow decay or restore them to a usable state.” Keeping library collections in sound environment (including temperature, humidity, air quality, and light levels under control) helps in the preservation process and extends the life of the collection by slowing down its rate of physical deterioration. Usually preservation is intended to keep books and documents in the collection permanently. If some libraries do not pay much attention to any of these basic measures to keep their materials in good conditions, they should start doing it. However, the mission to keep materials for posterity, for eternity, at least as long as it is possible to extend the life of a document is vested with very few libraries and cultural institutions. These institutions are the National Library, the National Archives Department, the Mahatma Gandhi Institute and to some extent, the Aapravasi Ghat Trust Fund, the Mauritius College of the Air and the Mauritius Broadcasting Corporation  (for local productions).  Other libraries barely have this preservation role….preserving for posterity.

What to preserve? One of the fundamental questions in any preservation programme/ policy is to determine what materials to preserve. Small States like Mauritius cannot afford to preserve materials that are already being taken care of by big institutions in developed countries. Replication or duplication in this area is completely unjustified since sharing of digital contents is so easy in our time. Mauritius cannot compete with lets say the British Library or the Library of Congress in preserving world literature. These institutions are big players in the field. We have neither the expertise nor the technologies to embark on such preservation programme. The only viable option  would be to digitise  materials confined to Mauritius only. Indigenous literature, original works of local authors, local productions (multimedia), official records of the colonial administration and reports, historical and rare documents pertaining to Mauritius alongside the newspaper archives of the country may be subject to preservation. Anything else would be unnecessary duplication and wastage of resources. Given the size of the country, libraries may well coordinate their actions and work towards a national preservation centre to preserve the cultural heritage of the nation.

Digitisation or Microfilming? One of the technologies successfully used for quite long time for preserving print materials, more particularly newspaper archives, is without any doubt microfilming. Microfilming technologies have matured over the years and  have been accepted in the LIS world as a reliable technology for preserving print media. However, recent developments in digital technologies have open new avenues and many organisations are resorting to digitisation technologies for both long term preservation and easy dissemination of information using Web-enabled applications. Digital technologies is still evolving and no one is sure about its long term viability as technology changes very rapidly and become outdated. Better performing and more sophisticated technologies will for ever pose a challenge to libraries.  Can we for this reason scrap microfilming technologies as outdated and embrace digital technologies? The question requires deep investigation.

Preservation problem in the digital era: Preservation of digital contents (resulting from conversion of analogue media to digital media and the sheer increase of digitally born materials)  poses serious problems. Many institutions nowadays resort to “collective bargaining” by forming consortia to buy access to e-journals or e-databases. As compared to print media where buying library materials operated a transfer of ownership to the purchaser, subscribing to e-databases does not make this change of ownership possible. The materials remain the property of the e-database owner. The purchasing library in fact only acquires the right to access the materials, not the ownership. Moreover, the archived materials remain in the database of the owner. Under such circumstances, whose responsibility is it to preserve the e-documents. Current legislation is not clear on this. As long as the database is commercially exploitable and has a money value, the owner will keep it. But what about its long-term preservation,  for eternity? It is not binding on commercial enterprises to carry this preservation role. With the digital  publishing, we are running the risk of loosing for ever important chunk of human culture, thus impairing future scholarship and research.

For Mauritius, there is an urgent need to formulate a national policy to preserve for posterity both the print heritage and the digital contents related to our country.

P. Hauroo

Digital Library in Mauritius

Bibliotheque NumeriqueThe Agence Universitaire de la Francophonie (AUF), based at Reduit, has developed, in collaboration with the University of Mauritius,  a digital collection on “Mauritiana”. This may be considered as the first digital  library in Mauritius. The collection has been built out of the holdings of the University of Mauritius library and is organised under nine broad subjects. It is searchable and the digitised documents are all in pdf format. Staffs of the University of Mauritius Library and the AUF have plans to digitise more documents and make them available online to the public at large. The digital library may be accessed at  The National Library of Mauritius and the Mauritius Institute of Health are also working on similar projects to build up digital libraries. In the long run, major libraries of the country may ultimately work out a coordinated scheme to digitise and preserve the national heritage of the nation.

P. Hauroo

The Problem with “School Librarians” in Mauritius

As its name suggests, a school librarian is a librarian who works in a school library. In Western countries, a school librarian is often being referred to as a teacher librarian or a School Media Information Specialist. Whatever the terms used, a school librarian is supposed to be responsible for performing the four main activities which follows:-

  • Teacher that is, assisting the children and/or students with the reading and selection of books as well as performing school work.
  • Instructional Partner that is, collaborating with teachers in order to promote information literacy and critical thinking amongst students.
  • Information Specialist that is, maintaining the collection and making available a variety of materials that is required in the school curriculum.
  • Program Administrator that is, maintaining the library budget and making the library a welcoming place for students.

In Western countries, a school librarian is often referred to as a teacher librarian since in addition to being a teacher the person would also possess a degree in library science. This is as totally opposed to the Mauritian context where school librarians or rather school library officers only possess a library science qualification.

In the Mauritian context, the school librarian’s importance has often been overlooked. The problem lies in the qualification and job description of these school librarians as set out by the authorities. Firstly, in most of our schools in Mauritius, there are only library clerks and/or library officers and no school librarians per se. Secondly, the qualifications of most of these school library clerks and/or officers are much lower than that of a typical school librarian. Thirdly, their job seems to involve only part of what a school librarian is supposed to do. Typically, a school librarian or rather school library officer in Mauritius would only be responsible in making available the necessary materials required for the school curriculum to the students. The promotion of information literacy, for example, which is one of the most important tasks that needs to be carried out by the school librarian is being totally ignored. To be information literate is in fact a primary prerequisite that is required in the educational development of an individual. A person is said to be information literate when that person is able to recognise a need for information, be able to locate that information and efficiently and effectively use the required information (ALA Presidential Committee on Information Literacy, Final Report).

What is therefore required is a redefinition of the job description of the school librarian in Mauritius, the recruitment of appropriate school librarians with the appropriate qualifications and more collaboration between the teachers and the school librarians in the future. The appropriate measures taken will help to give a new image to the school librarian in Mauritius and to the library profession in general.

Helena Lam

The Success-Story of a Beach Library

Library and information services managers must think out of the box and challenge the status quo. Instead of waiting for patrons to visit our libraries, we must leave no stone unturned to devise innovative ways of reaching people.

One such success- story is the beach library set up by public libraries on sandy beaches in the Netherlands (Holland) since 2005.  This innovative experiment was based on the premise that ‘if people do not want to come to the library, we will visit them. We want to surprise them.’ The target group was vacationers in two coastal provinces.

Initially, there was some resistance from politicians who feared that nobody would return library materials borrowed from the beach library. Thus, it would represent wastage of taxpayers’ money. But this fear proved to be unjustified. The project worked in a marvelous way and made a lot of happy users due to the fact that it was based on TRUST.

ProBiblio – a public library service provider which acts as the coordinator of this endeavour has reported that it has given up all library rules and regulations, i.e no fees, no fines, no library cards and no I.Ds in order to make things as easy as possible. All one needs to do is to sign one’s name and give one’s address. Every year, an average of 25,000 visitors are registered. The circulation figures reach some 15,000 items. Only 1 % of borrowed materials are not returned. The beach library is operational during the six weeks vacation period only.

Indeed, there is food for thought for our public librarians and policy makers. Can’t our Beach Authority, Tourism Authority, District Councils and librarians chalk out a common strategy together ? Is it too demanding ?


Xmas & New Year Greetings

To all our members, supporters and regular visitors to this site, let me on behalf of LIA and as President of the Association wish you and your family a Merry Xmas and a Happy New Year 2010. Let us hope that the year 2010 will be a very successful year for all of us and more particularly for the library and information profession.

P. Hauroo