Technology in the school library – friend or foe?

Usha Mukunda

If technology comes, can libraries be far behind? What should a school library do to show the way to teachers and management in the realm of technology? This was the question that I faced way back in 1997 as a librarian at Centre for Learning in Bangalore. We had an open library and a lively and interactive user community. Shouldn’t we leave things well alone? But there was the lure and the thrill of the possibilities of computerisation. Users from ages 5 to 55 functioning independently at the computer – to borrow, return, reserve, and search for whatever their strange hearts desired; and for the librarian? Liberation from catalogue cards, borrower cards, accession registers…. in brief, no more paper-work! That was a consummation devoutly to be wished. After a frustrating exploration of existing software; too cumbersome, too complicated, too expensive – a computer-crazy older student at the school came up with a programme that we worked on together. MERLIN he called it and magical it was. Children took to it effortlessly, adults with a little more hesitation but after a trial run, we knew we were going to create a record of sorts. One of the first school libraries to be fully computerized!

The author is a school library facilitator. She can be reached at usha.mukunda@gmail.com.

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