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Information Technology

1. Introduction: Information Technology (IT) is the use of any computers, storage, networking and other physical devices, infrastructure and processes to create, process, store, secure and exchange all forms of electronic data. IT deals with the study or use of systems (especially computers and telecommunications) for storing, retrieving, and sending information. It covers the acquisition, processing, storage and dissemination of information by using computer and telecommunications. The term information technology was coined by the Harvard Business Review, in order to make a distinction between purpose-built machines designed to perform a limited scope of functions and general-purpose computing machines that could be programmed for various tasks.

The term “IT” commonly used as a synonym for computers and computer networks, but it also encompasses other information distribution technologies such as television and telephones. Several industries are associated with information technology, including computer hardware, software, electronics, semiconductors, internet, telecom equipment, engineering, healthcare, e-commerce and computer services.

Information Communications Technology (ICT) is more inclined to the education setting and it can be described as using computers and other digital technologies to aid individuals or institutions in handling or using information.

There is some confusion in IT and ICT as because they are not described in a formal way. Generally, IT is an industry in itself which employs the use of computers, elaborate networks, computer software, and other digital or electronic devices for managing and communicating information and is used in more complex and bigger organizations such as companies and large corporations whereas ICT is mainly used in the academic and research setup.

2. Components of Information Technology: IT includes several layers of physical equipment (hardware), virtualization and management or automation tools, operating systems and applications (software) used to perform essential functions. User devices, peripherals and software, such as laptops, smartphones or even recording equipment, can be included in the IT domain. IT can also refer to the architectures, methodologies and regulations governing the use and storage of data. Information technology consists of the following components-

a) Computer: A computer is a device that solves problems by applying prescribed operation on data entered into it. It is a set of interacting elements, responding to input so as to produce desire output.

b) Telecommunication: The communication channel is the medium which carries the message / information / etc. send by the sender and take it to receiver ends. In computer network the communication channel is the connecting cables.

c) Modem: Modem is short name for MOdulator – DEModulator. It can be defined as “a device attached to computer that can convert digital signals to analog signals and vice versa.” The data signal generated by computer (digital signal) is different from the signal from that can be carried by telephone lines (analog signal). A digital signal is a discrete signal and an analog signal is a continuous signal. So, a modem is required to convert the digital signal to analog signal at the sender’s side so that telephone cables can carry them. At the receivers end it again needs to convert back to the analog signal to digital signal to pass it to the computer. The modulation can convert the digital signal to analog signal and demodulator does the opposite. Modems are of two types- internal and external. Internal modems are installed inside the computer system.

d) Storage Devices: Storage Devices are the data storage devices that are used in the computers to store the data. IBM introduced the first hard disk drive in 1956. Most digital data today is still stored magnetically on hard disks, or optically on media such as CD-ROMs.

e) Database: A database is a self describing collection of integrated records. It is self describing because it contains as part of itself, a directory or dictionary of its contents.

The new technologies that are emerging as part of Information Technology includes E-Commerce, Hyper Media, Data warehouses and Data Marts, Data Mining, Online Analytical Processing (OLAP), Geographical Information System (GIS), Video Conferencing / Net Meeting, etc.

3. Impact of Information Technology in Library: The impact of new technologies is seen in almost every human activity. IT is the boon for mankind. It gives accessibility to information at fingertips. IT has reduced the space and time between the people, country and continent and ultimately has led to the emerging concept “global society” and “global village”. The impact of IT in library can be looked from the following angles-

a) Library Collection: IT is the reason of the emergence of library website, network, consortia, document delivery service and so on. In the IT environment, information can also be collected as mashup, tag, bookmark, hyper text, etc.

b) Technical Services: Automation, in the form of bibliographic utilities and MARC format has revolutionized the practice of cataloguing. Today’s librarians rely on MARC format to provide proper cataloguing services to their users. Online Public Access Catalogue (OPAC) can substantially reduce the cost of maintaining a catalogue. The co-operative collection development and management have become increasingly important in libraries due to tight budgets, rising prices and the information explosion. Bibliographic utilities facilitate these efforts through shared holdings, information and automated inter-library loan sub-systems to speed resource sharing.

c) Library Organization: The emergence of information technology provided greater impetus for information transfer at both inter and intra-organizational level. Organizations of all types become involved with IT and have implemented IT based system. It helps the libraries to better organize their resources and making them available remotely within no time.

d) Storage: The computer storage reduces the bulk of the printed materials in the library. The optical disk, hard disc are very commonly used in all types of libraries.

e) Processing and Retrieval: Different types of computer software and other equipments are used for information processing. The use of computer for information retrieval gives precise result in fraction of a second.

f) Transportation: In the library environment, information is transmitted through optical fibre cables at a very high speed by using the internet. Even within the four walls, library staffs are transferring files and other data through intranet.

g) Public Services: OPACs which provide speedy online access to the entire library’s holding by means of computer terminals are affecting library operations. Electronic books, journals are made available to the library users from home, office and anywhere in between 24x7.

4. Conclusion: Libraries and information centers has very important role in advancement of education, scientific research and socio-economic development of any society. These are the service centers, where very personalized service is extended to the users.

IT gives us the concept of instant remote access that brings the concepts of Global Village. IT connects different parts of the world with high speed; bring more capacity, and easy retrieval mechanism. If any information is fed into the computer system today than it is also available to the outsider today itself. There is no time lag in between. Uses of IT avoid duplication, so the information is becoming less costly.

As a result of recent expansion in communication infrastructure, expanding computer culture, advance in printing technology, etc. has created more awareness about information use. It has resulted in increasing library services. The future libraries may not be recognized by their size; these will be perhaps recognized by variety of services and approaches, where information search areas will be outlined. The computers are also transforming the libraries into a paperless atmosphere. Again, it is the use of IT that gives librarians a wide scope, wide audience, and raise the status.
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