Friday, 28 October, 2011

BTESSC-UTC Librarians Training on 'Online Techniques and Different Possibilities.'

29-30 August 2011, UTC, Bangalore

The training programme for librarians on “Online Training Techniques and Different Possibilities” started at the Ecumenical Resource Centre at the United Theological College, Bangalore, at 9.30 am on 29 August 2011 with devotion led by Fr Jerry Kurian, Lecturer in the Department of Communication, UTC. The worship order for the devotion related the aspects of communication and information technology to our understanding of God, and this became apparent in the affirmation of faith, confession of sins and absolution, prayers and benediction.  Rev Dr John Samuel Raj, principal of UTC, led the meditation in the light of St Mark 11: 12-19 and underlined the reality of connectivity in our age, the necessity to learn together and share our knowledge and information with each other. He also highlighted the significant role played by libraries in theological education all over the world.
Rev Dr Mohan Larbeer, Secretary of the Board of Theological Education of the Senate of Serampore College (BTESSC), welcomed the participants and delivered a short speech about some of the plans of the Senate of Serampore College with regard to updating the online resources in the libraries of colleges affiliated to the Senate and making them accessible to students and teachers, and highlighted the significance of this meeting in that venture. This was followed by Fr Jerry Kurian introducing the nature of the programme and the presentations for 29 and 30 August 2011.
 Rev Dr Samuel Meshack, Principal of the Concordia Theological Seminary, Nagercoil and chairperson of the World Association of Christian Communication Asia Region (WACC-AR) delivered the keynote address. He spoke on the process of computerising the libraries under the Senate and the necessity to network them. He talked about the availability and the usability of online resources and the importance of the developing of digital/virtual libraries which will be much more efficient and effective than the regular libraries that we have. He also highlighted some of the advantages of having digital libraries such as their interactive nature and the space for multiple users at the same time. He pointed out some of the plans the Senate of Serampore College was planning to undertake in collaboration with, the World Council of Churches and other institutions in establishing a digital library GlobeTheoLib – to be launched on 23 September 2011 – in order to ensure that theological students all over the world get access to the basic theological material required for their education. He concluded with inviting the librarians under the Senate to cooperate along with others to contribute to this digital library. It was followed by Mr Roby Matthew, Business Manager in charge of marketing ATLA (American Theological Library Association), introducing the major features of ATLA. He explained to the participants about how to use it in order to access full journal texts online. The Post-lunch session was led by Mr Shreenivas who introduced the KOHA Integrated Library System which is an open source web based library software for cataloguing and circulating books in libraries.

In the afternoon, a video conference was arranged by Dr. Mohan Larbeer with Dr Christoph Stueckelberger in Switzerland, founder of, who spoke about the attempts taken for launching the GlobeTheoLib – the digital library for global theological education. It was moderated by Dr Meshack, who has been networking with Dr. Stueckelberger for a long time in this regard. Dr Stueckelberger emphasised the significance and necessity of the GlobeTheoLib and explained about its nature, content and functioning. He highlighted two important features about this digital library – the availability of resources free of cost for the registered theological students and teachers all over the world, and the possibility of uploading resources into the library. He mentioned that GlobeTheoLob will basically have three types of contents – freely accessible resources already available online which will be collected and placed into the library, materials from subscription to online journals and the content uploaded from the theological community in the Global South. Dr Stueckelberger’s presentation was well received among the participants who also interacted with him. At the end Dr Meshack presented his concluding remarks where he urged the librarians present to contribute to this venture in all possible ways.

On 30 August 2011, the programme started with devotion and mediation led by Fr Jerry Kurian. Based on St Luke 7: 1-10, he reflected on sharing our resources such as information and knowledge with others as Jesus did for others during his ministry. The faith of the Roman centurion and his commands of ‘go’, ‘come’ and ‘do’ can be re-interpreted in our times as ‘click’, ‘send’ and ‘like’. It was followed by the presentation by Mr Yesan Sellan, Librarian, SAIACS, on Online Theological Archives and repositories. He introduced a number of library software which would be helpful for library cataloguing and circulation. He also introduced some open source software for eBook management or digital library. Mr Manoj Samuel made a presentation on Online Theological Resources whereby he introduced to participants several websites which provide free access to the people.
The post-lunch session involved group discussions and presentations. In addition to filling up a questionnaire which contained questions about (1) the usefulness of this training programme, (2) suggestions by the participants to BTESSC for further follow-up action, (3) and how they will utilise the insights learned from this programme in their respective organisations, the participants were divided into four groups to discuss the workshop. For the first question, the groups noted that they have got a clear concept of digital libraries and their importance and usefulness, more confidence about acquiring and sharing knowledge, and information about various online sources which would be helpful for libraries of colleges affiliated to the Senate of Serampore College. Second, the groups suggested BTESSC/SSC to conduct similar meetings for college authorities about improving theological libraries, to make available essential reading materials online for students, to connect the possible donors for weaker seminaries to develop their libraries, to conduct regular training programmes for librarians of colleges affiliated to the Senate, and to publish an occasional news letter on online materials. They also suggested that the BTESSC/Senate may instruct all affiliated colleges to use one software for library for sharing resources, to introduce a few websites for students during orientation, to offer training for library software like KOHA, to elevate the library levels of colleges affiliated to the Senate, to equip the library staff, to include librarians in decision making bodies of the respective colleges, to digitalise their libraries and to have IT departments in their institutions. Third, regarding how they would do the follow-up in their institutions, the participants affirmed that they would pass on the information and insights the received in this programme such as the information regarding online sources and software for library to the faculty and students in their institutions.

The programme came to end as Dr. Mohan Larbeer, on behalf of BTESSC, and Fr. Jerry thanked the participants, resource persons and all those who helped to organise and run this two-day training programme.

 The deliberations of the various groups of librarians and their suggestions-

First group
1. a. The workshop gave a clear concept of online libraries
b. Got information about acquiring and sharing knowledge
c. Good that the Senate has global plans
d. Got information on free sites
2. a. Similar meetings should be held again
b. One software can be used in all colleges
3. Make a list of free accessible web sites and give this list to all colleges

Second group
1. It was a good opportunity to come together
2. a. Faculty should work together with the librarians
b. Circulate new websites and free web site lists to students during their orientation. Training on KOHA is a good idea.
c. Librarians can identify good site adds and circulate in the college.
d. An IT section for the college should be initiated.

Third group
1. a. Was an exposure for librarians
b. Got information about free web sites
c. Information about digitisation techniques and collaboration
2. a. Elevate the standard of libraries
b. Search for possible donors to help weaker seminaries
c. Equip library staff on technology and new innovations
d. BTESSC mobile units can visit seminaries and conduct workshops
e. Librarians should be included in policy making bodies
f. There should be an IT department in the college and there should be a IT support group in the Senate
3. a. Internet connectivity for all colleges essential
b. IT awareness for library users

Fourth group
1. a. Came to know each other
2. a.  Such meetings should be conducted more often
2. b. Meetings should be held in places with good libraries and internet support
3. Senate can have a newsletter on new websites
4. Librarians can be supported to do BCS and be made a part of the faculty
(Prepared by Mr. Muthuraj Samy, Lecturer, UBS, Pune. Photos courtesy Comm Dept, UTC)


Anonymous said...

Missiology Birmingham, facebook, 28-10-2011- It is good to establish an online network of Indian Theological Libraries. It is also good to give them a training to place the library catalogues online. all the archieves can be scanned and placed together online. Then for sharing such resources online the colleges can charge people. This will give them a lot of money for maintaining libraries. You can also think about creating an online archieve of good articles and books that are published in Asia similar to William Fore's Religion Online (which I also happen to help in its beginning).

United Theological College said...

Starting an online site with various links, resources and free books and articles is something we can definitely work on. Why don't we do something together? The religion online site is not accessible anymore.