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Application of Cloud Computing in Libraries: An Indian Scenario


Ramakant Shukla Librarian Delhi Technological University Bawana Road, Delhi 110042

ABSTRACT The paper elucidates various definitions of cloud computing given by different experts and professional bodies, enlists some real world examples of paid and free cloud computing services. It also provides the world wide examples of application of cloud computing by the libraries with special reference to Indian libraries. Keywords: Cloud computing, application of cloud computing, cloud computing libraries. INTRODUCTION Cloud computing is a new technology model for IT services which many business enterprises and organizations are adopting. It allows them to avoid locally hosting multiple servers and equipment and the hassle of constantly dealing with hardware failure, software installs, upgrades and compatibility issues. For many organizations, cloud computing can simplify processes and save time and money1 Understanding of cloud differs from people to people. ACM defines cloud computing as Cloud computing is about moving services, computation and/or data offsite to an internal or external, location-transparent, centralized facility or contractor.2 Marios D. Dikaiakos et al. say, Cloud computing deals Type Infrastructure Platform Applications Services What it is

with computation, software, data access and storage services that may not require end-user knowledge of the physical location and the configuration of the system that is delivering the services. Cloud computing is a recent trend in IT that moves computing and data away from desktop and portable PCs into large data centers4. The definition of cloud computing provided by National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) says that: Cloud computing is a model for enabling convenient, on-demand network access to a shared pool of configurable computing resources (e.g., networks, servers, storage applications and services) that can be rapidly provisioned and released with minimal management effort or service provider interaction.5 Gartner, Inc. (NYSE: IT), worlds leading information technology research and advisory company Group defines cloud computing as a style of computing in which massively scalable and elastic IT-enabled capabilities are delivered as a service to external customers using Internet technologies.3 In various presentations KPMG a business advisory firm breaks this into essentially four different types of cloud computing: infrastructure, platform, applications and services. To put this in more concrete terms, examples of each can be: Examples Amazon A3 Bungee Dropbox Facebook Google Drive Salesforce.com skydrive ADP

Buying space/time on external servers An existing software platform to build your own applications on Software applications accessed with a Web browser Ready to use services accessed with a Web browser

The above table illustrates why there are varying definitions of cloud computing. Many cloud services actually incorporate two or more of these types. For example, Google drive provides infrastructure as well

as applications. It should also be noted that many cloud applications and services are actually using another providers cloud infrastructure to run their service, which will be touched on later in this article.

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Libraries have been using some cloud computing services for over a decade. Online databases are accessed as cloud applications. Large union catalogs can also be defined as cloud applications. However, a look outside libraries is warranted to better understand the value proposition of cloud computing. AREAS FOR APPLICATION OF CLOUD COMPUTING SOLUTIONS IN LIBRARIES The libraries can apply the concept of cloud computing to enhance the power of cooperation and to build a significant, unified presence on the Web. This approach to computing can help libraries save time and money while simplifying workflows. These can be grouped into three basic areas: technology, data and community. Technology Library management (LMS, also known as the integrated library system or ILS) systems were developed before the Internet and Web came into existence and are generally closed proprietary systems. It has been difficult and costly for these closed systems to take advantage of emerging technologies. It is very challenging to integrate these systems to external systems and libraries are dependent on their vendors to do any such integration. As per fifth law of library science library is a growing organism hence over the time libraries require to add more systems to manage their changing collections which have moved from strictly physical collection management to a combination of physical, licensed and digital collections. Since each of these LMS has stood alone integrating them has been difficult and at several cases not possible. In a cloud environment for managing core library services, the first possibility would be of open service oriented architecture. Many cloud solutions offer this type of openness with published application program interfaces (APIs) that any programmer can take advantage of. Secondly, libraries can get out of the business of technology and focus on collection building, patron services and innovation. Servers can be decommissioned and no longer require replacement every five years (or less). Library staff no longer has to go into their environment and maintain the complex software necessary to run local systems and worry about compatibility of the software during upgrades. Instead technical skills can be re-deployed for extending cloud services into other cloud services. Data When data is stored in the cloud it offers several advantages. Common data can now be easily shared among services and users. The need for local storage, maintenance and backups is removed. Agreements can be made to share data considered private to a single organization. And finally libraries can achieve Web scale when they massively aggregate

data and users something a cloud environment makes possible. Just like the advantages of technology deployed and accessed as cloud solutions, data storage in the cloud brings many benefits for libraries. Imagine how many copies of the cataloging data are there for a serial publication across libraries subscribing the same title. And if a change is needed to the cataloging data to keep it current all libraries have to perform that change individually. When this data is maintained in the cloud, maintenance and backup of this data is now done once and if a change is needed, one library only performs the change and all share it. Another great benefit of data stored in the cloud is the opportunity for collaboration and cooperation. Libraries can agree to share pools of data for cooperative collection building, cooperative preservation or digitization, cooperative sharing of materials, etc. And with massively aggregated data new services can be created such as recommender services based on a broad base of usage data. Community Libraries have a somewhat unique opportunity with cloud computing, to create an online information community network. Such a community is really two communities, the internal community of libraries, collaborating within a single institution and across institutions and the external community of libraries and information seekers. The value to libraries is the network effect that coming together in the cloud. The cooperative efforts of libraries will create scale savings and efficiencies, bring wider recognition for libraries, and provide cooperative intelligence for better decision-making, and provide the platform on which libraries can innovate. Existing social communities such as Face book or Twitter can be used for the purpose. The internal community formed through the cloud offers new possibilities and efficiencies for current workflows. Starting with a single organization the simple task of collaboratively working on documents and maintaining version control either requires extensive manual processes between colleagues or a locally installed system to assist in collaboration and version control. Many librarians have discovered the power of services like Google Docs to reduce the effort of working jointly. Services like these allow them to easily share ongoing work whenever they want and wherever they are. The potential for collaboration between libraries is truly revolutionary in a cloud environment. When data and functions are shared in the cloud, libraries can make joint decisions on collection development, preservation, digitization, etc. in real time. As demonstrated by OCLCs Question Point virtual reference service and its 24/7 cooperative a single libraries ability to assist patrons is expanded beyond the constraint of its own walls and hours of operation to become a true cloud service.

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REAL WORLD EXAMPLES OF CURRENT LIBRARY CLOUD SOLUTIONS To date, the main focus of libraries moving into the cloud has been discovery services, the need to disclose their vast collections on the Web. Though library OPACs attract existing patrons they are not integrated with most information seekers common workflows. So, a first step for libraries has been to start massively aggregating data about their collections into common pools. OCLCs WorldCat, the first example of this nature, is now forty-year old and pre-dates both the Web and cloud computing. Other similar union catalogs have existed throughout the world most commonly supported by national libraries and large union catalogs, such as the National Library of Australia, the Bayerische Staatsbibliothek in Germany, and Bibsys in Norway and DELNET and IFLIBNET union catalogue in India. However the advent of the Web has allowed libraries to extend this original vision in new ways. Extending these services beyond traditional library collections is well illustrated by the National Library of Australias (NLA) Trove. It has used the Web to accomplish two tasks. This is done by first combining the collections of Australian libraries with other important Australian and international collections and information sources such a Wikipedia and secondly to open much of this content so the public can tag it, edit it, collect it and review it. The explosion of digitization projects in the last decade has driven this gathering of information in new directions with examples in addition to NLAs Trove to others like the Hathi Trust, OAISTER and Europeana. The Hathi trust is building a repository of digitized books and journals from major research libraries in the United States. OAISTER is a service started by the University of Michigan and now managed by OCLC which seeks to harvest all the major digital repositories around the world. Europeana is gathering the digitized collections from Europes galleries, libraries, archives and museums. What makes these aggregations and others like them important is their intent to allow their content to be mashed up into other services and re-used. Other benefits growing from massively aggregated data about collections is the ability to aggregate user opinion and use. LibraryThing is a good example of being able to build recommender services based on the aggregation of what thousands of people hold in their personal libraries. CLOUD COMPUTING IN INDIAN LIBRARIES As on date though cloud computing is not common in Indian libraries, however isolated attempts have been made by the some of the Government autonomous bodies and some Government organizations to provide Service and Application based cloud computing models being used by Indian libraries.

CVRS service of INFLIBNET Similar to OCLCs Question Point virtual reference service where single librarys ability to assist patrons is expanded beyond the constraint of its own walls and hours of operation to become a true cloud service, INFLIBNET also started Collaborative Virtual Reference Services (CVRS) for academic community in colleges and universities. The users in colleges and universities (or even general public) would be free to post their questions on the CVRS website. The questions on CVRS would be grouped into a number of subject categories, and user would be required to choose his subject category before posting his question. Answer to the questions would be available from CVRS website by the volunteering librarians. Libraries may specify the field of specialisation on which they would like to answer the questions. Needless to say that the success of the service would depend on the volunteering librarians and promptness with which they answer the questions.6 This model is an Application based cloud computing model where application software is available through web browser for participating libraries and users as well. Sodhganga/Shodh Gangotri The Shodhganga@INFLIBNET Centre provides a platform for research students to deposit their Ph.D. theses and make it available to the entire scholarly community in open access. The repository has the ability to capture, index, store, disseminate and preserve ETDs submitted by the researchers.6 In this Service the cloud computing model available is a combination of Infrastructure (storage space) and the Application. Great benefit of data stored in the Sodh Ganga cloud is the opportunity for collaboration and cooperation. Participating libraries are sharing pools of data for cooperative collection building, cooperative preservation or digitization, cooperative sharing of materials, etc. And with massively aggregated data new services can be created based on a broad base of usage data. Open Journal Access System (OJAS) This service of INFLIBNET provides a common application and infrastructure for hosting the open access journals by the Indian academic institutions. The platform enables the libraries to access, preserve and digitize the contents without maintaining the servers at the local level. Union Catalogue of INFLIBNET/DELNET IndCat: Online Union Catalogue of Indian Universities is unified Online Library Catalogues of books, theses and journals available in major university libraries in India. The union database contains bibliographic description, location and holdings information for books, journals and theses in all subject areas available in more than

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148 university libraries across the country. A Webbased interface is designed to provide easy access to the merged catalogues. The IndCat is a major source of bibliographic information that can be used for interlibrary loan, collections development as well as for copy cataloguing and retro-conversion of bibliographic records. The IndCat consists three components available in open access to users and librarians.6 In the present form the users cannot use it as a platform as they cannot upload their data themselves hence the service is available as infrastructure only.

Delnet maintains an online union catalogue of books available with its Member-Libraries. The union catalogue is continuously updated and is growing in size. It can be accessed by author, title, subject, conference, series, etc. and also Boolean Operators can be used. It contains about 1,19,59,184 bibliographic records at present. Inter-library loan requests for books are placed online. Requests are also received through e-mail.7 This can be used as application as users can upload data from their workplace.

Digital Library of India The primary long-term objective is to capture all books in digital format. It is believed that such a task is impossible and could take hundreds of years, and never be completed. Thus, as a first step it is planned to demonstrate the feasibility by undertaking to digitize 1 million books (less than 1% of all books in all languages ever published) by 2005. It is believed that such a project has the potential to change how education is conducted in much of the world. A secondary objective of this project will be to provide a test bed that will support other researchers who are working on improved scanning techniques, improved

optical character recognition, and improved indexing. The corpus this project creates will be one to three orders of magnitude larger than any existing free resource.8 National Mission on Education through ICT (NMEICT), Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD), Government of India, Library Automation & Resource Sharing Network project. The project will involve Koha, a free and open source Integrated Library System (ILS) as a tool to:

Create a Union Catalogue on Sakshat server at IGNOU Campus

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Automate individual libraries all over the country. The immediate outcome of the project (deliverable) is that this will be extended in the main project to cover at national level. Training of Librarians in library automation using open source application Koha and facilitating them in uploading bibliographic data on Type Infrastructure Platform Applications Services What it is Buying space / time on external servers

centralized database hosted on Sakshat portal. Integration of existing bibliographic database of college, university and institute libraries who have already automated their library activities using different automation packages.9

The above examples of clouds in Indian scenario can be grouped as under: Examples INDCAT, DIGITAL LIBRARY OF INDIA LIBRARY BLOGS AND COMMUNITIES ON FACEBOOK SODHGANGA UNION CATALOGUE OF DELNETNMEICT PROJECT OJAS CVRS

An existing software platform to build your own applications on Software applications accessed with a Webbrowser Ready to use services accessed with a Webbrowser

REFERENCES
1. Maff Goldner Winds of change: Libraries and cloud computing BCLA Browser: Linking the Library Landscape Volume 4, no. 1 (2012 ). Association for computing machinery(ACM),(2009), CloudComputing:An overview, http://queue. acm.org/detail.cfm7searchtemFcloud+computing+ &id=1554608. Gartner Group: http://www.gartner.com/it/page.jsp? id=1035013. Marios D. Dikaiakos, George Pallis, Dimitrios Katsaros, Pankaj Mehra,Athena Vakali, Cloud 5.

computing : Distributed Internet Computing for IT and Scientific Research, IEEE Internet Computing, Published by the IEEE Computer Society, September/ October 2009. National Institute of Standards and Technology Computer Security Resource Center www.csrc.nist.gov. http://www.inflibnet.ac.in. http://www.delnet.nic.in. http://www.new.dli.ernet.in/. http://www.koha.ignouonline.ac.in.

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