The Fourth Pan-Commonwealth Forum on Open Learning (PCF4)
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Neela Jagannathan

Library without Walls for Distance Learners of South Asian Region: A Dream Far-fetched

Neela Jagannathan
CEMCA, New Delhi, India

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     Last modified: August 10, 2006
     Presentation date: 10/31/2006 2:15 PM in NT Trelawny
     (View Schedule)

There is a phenomenal growth of open and distance learning (ODL) in seven Countries of South Asian viz. India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Nepal, Bhutan and Maldives. The distance learners in ODL system can be supplemented and complemented by effective library support through information and communication technologies (ICT).

The advent of ICT revolution has brought about a dramatic transformation in all aspects of education including library and information services. No longer are books in modern library like bricks in walls; rather they have got converted into bits and bytes to create Library without Walls (LWW).

Experiments in developed countries such as US, UK, Australia, Canada and other European countries have succeeded in creating effective virtual learning environments to replace a teacher without any negative implications and render adequate library services to distance learners. But there is a wide divide between the ICT rich and ICT poor countries. Developing countries are still struggling hard to provide even basic library services due to various constraints.

This paper examines the library support provided by Open Universities of South Asian countries namely Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh in general and India in particular. It also discusses the challenges OU librarians in India face in doing justice to library support to distance learners compared to their counterparts in the conventional system who enjoy access to information using ICT and Internet.

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