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Five Generations of Library Services in India

Dr. Vivekanand Jain

Banaras Hindu University

Like a computer generation, library services can also be divided into five generations. (This is my personal opinion)


Library Services


1st Generation of Library Services


Library services to limited users. There was no system for issue/return. Closed access. Personal Libraries.

From Beginning to -1910 AD

2nd Generation of Library Services



Library services extended to general public.

Manual card catalogue for search of library documents.

There was a system for issuing the documents with register system.

Closed access to stack of books.


3rd Generation of Library Services


Library services to all users.

Computerised database of library documents (DBMS).

Use of library software for searching of documents and in circulation for issue/ return of books.

Closed and partial open access to stack of books.



4th Generation of Library Services


Library Automation with OPAC.

Computerised issue/ return.

Use of Barcode technology.

Open access to stack of books.

Library works in network environment.

Dominance of printed resources but moving towards CDROM databases and online resources.



5th Generation of Library Services


Fully Library Automation with OPAC and Web OPAC.

Use of library automation software for all library in-house activities and users services.

Open access to all resources for all users.

Internet based library services.

Self check in / checkout services.

Dominance of online full text resources.

Use of Barcode technology and RFID for stock management.

Information for All.

Library works in network environment.

Round the clock library services with remote access.

2001- till date


Please send your valuable suggestions and comments to :

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Thanks Dear Dr. Jain.

I presume it is World wide gradation.

Indian gradation may be of somewhat different (delayed) timeline.

I would like to add some inputs which are essentially my personal opinion!!

As I can recall, the NISSAT was established in early 80's (under Mr. Thyagarajan's) and the free distribution of CDS/ISIS s/w started from late 80's or early 90's .

The NIC too was established in early 80's (in a pink coloured building; unfortunately I can't remember the name of the Building nstantly!!) & shifted to CGO Complex in 1985-86; The Indian MEDLARS Centre or ICMR-NIC Centre for Biomedical Information started functioning from 1986. The first training on Library s/w however was on MINI/ISIS the IDRC product

 As such, the Third Generation of Library Services in India basically started from late 80's or early 90's (However, the first ever training course in India on Online searching of Bibliographical databases was probably the one that was organized by ICMR in April 1984 and the online connection was made through Telephone line!!)

The first full text clustered electronic journals, as I can remember had been ADONIS a product of Elsevier available in CDs.with monthly updates which started from 1990 and that began a new era of what we called Online Journals.

Later (post 1990) the abstract databases like MEDline, CA, BA also  used to come in CDs. Only soft versions of "Current Contents" the flagship product of ISI  started  with Diskette which in short, called CCOD and later shifted to CDs (called CCCD)

Since I was personally associated with the above activities either as a participant &/or a service provider , they still have a lasting impression on my mind.


Siddhartha S. Ray, Calcutta

            Yes sir if include your suggestions it very nice.

बहुत अच्छा सर हमारे पास पूरी हिस्ट्री है . लाइब्रेरी और डॉक्यूमेंटेशन सिस्टम्स की

Well defined Sir. According to me the 5th generation of library services has fulfilled Dr. Ranganathan's five laws of library science to the fullest extent.

very good sir

very nice sir

well done ....sir

Thanks sir,
For this valuable information.

hello sir 

thanks to informing me for different Gen. of Library.

m from Lucknow, I have done my MLISc from AMU .


Thanks to all who replied / respond to "Five Generations of Library Services in India.
V. Jain


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