Man’s quest for knowledge has led to the creation and accumulation of tremendous amount of information. This quest for knowledge knows no bounds and limits and is never satisfied. It has continued since the dawn of civilization to the modern age. This hard-earned knowledge and information is valuable for the entire mankind and therefore liable to be preserved. With the invention of paper man has been able to convey this knowledge to others by writing books. Thousands of manuscripts have been written by the wise men of the earlier times but many of them were destroyed due to the lack of proper means of preservation.
Libraries are established for the systematic collection, organization, preservation and dissemination of knowledge and information. It is very important for man to preserve and maintain the valuable knowledge and information contained in the books and documents because we want to preserve our knowledge and wisdom for the coming generations. By preserving the documents in a library this knowledge can be made available to others so that they can benefit from it. Establishment of libraries is not a new concept. The oldest library dates to around 2700 years ago in Sennacherib’s Palace in Nineveh which shows how long ago the concept of leaving a piece of your wisdom behind started being formed into the organized collection to preserve the work.
With the invention of printing press, it became easier to preserve the knowledge in the form of printed documents. This led to the generation of a large number of books. The need for the preservation and dissemination of information led to the establishment of more and more libraries. Thus libraries acquired a great importance in the civilized society for education and research. Libraries play a vital role in the development of any society by enhancing the cause of education and academic research. They cater to the information needs of thousands of peoples.
The development of Science and Technology (S & T) in the last two centuries has led to an information explosion. Rapid changes have taken place at a great pace. In order to meet the growing needs of users the library system has been greatly improved and upgraded to meet the new challenges. The services offered by libraries have also undergone a great change.
With the advent of new technologies in the field of computers and telecommunications, revolutionary changes have taken place in the field of Library and Information Science. The shape of traditional libraries containing a large number of printed documents is in the process of being transformed to paper less libraries containing a large number of digitized documents. The facilities offered by networking have not left libraries untouched. Modern libraries are not only digitized but networked also. This has led to the creation of virtual libraries i.e. libraries without walls through which the user has access to information at any time, anywhere in the world by using the modern tools of communications, such as computers and Internet facilities.
User demand is ever increasing and putting a great pressure on the librarians. Therefore, there is an imperative need for the modernization of libraries in order to keep pace with the modern times. The new challenges in the field of Library and Information Science can be met by adopting the process of digitization and networking. In the present age the Librarians have to face many problems due to the limitations of time and space. User satisfaction is the main objective of a good library. It cannot be achieved without adopting the modern tools and techniques rendered available by the modern technologies available in the field of Information and telecommunication. These developments have led to the creation of Digital and Virtual Libraries, which have great advantages over the traditional libraries. Therefore, digital libraries are becoming popular due to the advantages and facilities, which are offered by them to their users.
Written by: Mohammad Azeem Siddiqui