The first meeting of the NML was held on 18th May, 2012. In this meeting certain decisions were taken for improvement in the library sector. These include: national census of libraries, content creation and setting up of community information centres, up-gradation of the existing public libraries, school and college libraries and use of school libraries as community libraries, and improvement in library and information science education training and research facilities.
NML also decided to set up Working Groups with domain experts to prepare an implementation plan. The Mission would be primarily an advisory body to endorse the plans and programs prepared by the Working Groups. The following Working Groups have been set up by the Mission.
On the basis of recommendations of the Working Groups and after further deliberations in the high Level Committee, NML decided to address the following core areas initially:
Research, academics and also general users from various sectors are today depending more on digital information. Corresponding to this demand an increasing amount of digitized data and services based on such data are being initiated. Digital Information today serves as an important knowledge asset.
While the proliferation of the digital data and information services heralds a new and exciting era, it also presents many issues and challenges. The common user is often clueless about the existence of resources that are useful. The problem is akin to having large collection of printed materials in the form of books and journals but only when it is organized and services are provided, it is called a 'library'. In fact immense amount of information are digitized under several projects carried out by various Agencies and Govt. Departments like MOC, HRD, DIT, CDAC, Prasar Bharati, AIR, State Govts, etc. Most of them are available on the web, but are dispersed. There is no comprehensive database built for all such resources. The true potential can only be exploited for use by the masses when it is usefully organized and presented in user-friendly services including multilingual services.
Digital era has also brought in 'digital divide' and has marked the society into digital haves and have-nots. It is no longer a matter of choice but rather a compulsion to find ways and means of bridging the gap between the two sections. Virtual library will go a long way in filling up the gap.
The target users of NVL will be: students, researchers, doctors, professionals, and novice users, including educationally, socially, economically, physically disadvantaged groups. They can be built incorporating many modules to cater to information needs.
Under the constitution, “Library” is a State Subject. Among the sixteen States which have legislated on the subject, only eight have a reasonably good Public Library System and infrastructural facillties. According to the National Mission on libraries, its primary focus will be to improve Library System services and infrastructure of the states, which are lagging behind.
In most of the public libraries in India there is a shortage of infrastructure, lack of modernization and networking facilities, lack of fund to acquire latest print and on-line resources. The ICT has given rise to the growth of more information and knowledge resources but these resources do not reach the public. While IT can be used for effective collection, storage and dissemination of information yet most of the public libraries are unable to make use of it. Hence there is a need to modernize the public libraries. Accordingly, National Mission on Libraries decided to develop 35 State Central Libraries, one District Library in each State and one school library in each state as model libraries under NML in phase I. It is envisaged that the networking issue will be resolved with the support of NKN and NIC.
National Mission on Libraries recommended that a national census of libraries should be conducted by undertaking a nationwide survey. Collection of census data on libraries would provide baseline data for planning. NML has decided to conduct a representative survey (quantitative and qualitative) to understand the perception of the people regarding the services rendered by the libraries and what needs to be done to make public libraries vibrant institutions. A total of 5000 libraries will be surveyed to obtain descriptive statistics. These statistics will facilitate study of the pattern of library usage in terms of average number of readers, number of books issued, other services available, etc. The qualitative survey will study the level of satisfaction of library ‘users’ and ‘non-users’ about the role played by the libraries in terms of their traditional role as readership promoters as well as their new role as service and information providers and the impact of public libraries on the quality of life and economic gains of local people. A suitable questionnaire is being framed to generate data which can also be used to develop quality and performance indicators for the library system.
National Knowledge Commission recommended that the proposed Mission on Libraries must assess as soon as possible the manpower requirements of the country in the area of library and information science management and take necessary steps to meet the country's requirement through Library and Information Science, education and training. Core competencies are necessary for library staff to serve the clientele in the changing scenario of library arena. Adaptable staff will allow libraries to serve this changing needs and expectations of the users. Library can recruit, hire and train library staff to make them responsive to the new and continuously changing library environment to cope with this phenomenon, NML has decided to initiate need-based training programmes for various categories of library professionals working in public and other libraries. These trainings/workshops, through well-designed training programmes (including training of trainers), will contribute towards the capacity building of library and information science professionals. It would also develop managerial skills and IT competencies in existing personnel in public libraries. The capacity building programme will be conducted in collaboration with those 'universities and institutes which are already conducting programmes in Library and Information Sciences.