A century ago, it was Maharaja Sayajirao Gaekwad III who pioneered Library and Information Science (LIS) education in India. He set up the first library education programme in 1911 in the erstwhile princely state of Baroda.
Initially seen as a decent career option, LIS education has lost its shine over time as it is not a lucrative career option.
If estimates presented in a study by the librarian at the Mudra Institute of Communications, Ahmedabad (MICA) Shailesh Yagnik are to be believed, currently 2,22,350 people are engaged in libraries in higher secondary institutions, general colleges, professional colleges, central libraries and district and town libraries.
According to him, despite the higher potential of growth in LIS education, students are not interested in taking up the course.
"There needs to be aggressive marketing of the course to cultivate good reading habits in children. Libraries are required at the primary level too."
Yagnik's study is based on the 2011 census report that states that in coming years in India at least 20,226 jobs will be available for LIS professionals. He presented the paper at the Indian Association of Teachers of Library and Information Science (IATLIS) conference.
The paper states that the replacement market is a big job market for the LIS sector. Around 15% of job opportunities come from retirements.
"Without higher secondary schools (general colleges, professional colleges, universities and public libraries) the replacement market is 6,447 library professionals every year. If we count all types of libraries then the replacement market is 33,352 per annum. The open education system must be playing an important role for those who are willing to join or diversify the LIS sector," states the study.
Yagnik, in his paper, states that there are 47,485 village libraries compared 6,40,447 villages as per Census 2011. "Villages which a population of over 5,000 are another market opportunity for those with CLIS (certificate course) and resource knowledge.
LIS professionals at university level are not paid on the scale of assistant professor and this may deter students from taking up this course. "The scenario needs to be changed in the era of google where books are available with just a click. The Department of Library Science at the central and state
government levels should step in to make it a popular career option," said Yagnik.