On 8 February 1966, 18-year-old Uma Jagannath began her career as Readers’ Assistant at IISc, even before her results were out. She had just written her Diploma examination in library science at the Government Polytechnic for Women, Bangalore. After getting her results, she was immediately made the Library Assistant. In an interview with Connect, Jagannath recalls her 50-year association with the Institute.
What do you recall of your initial days at the Institute?
When I received my appointment order, I didn’t know that IISc was such a big research institute. Satish Dhawan was the Director and BV Raghavendra Rao was the Librarian at that time.
I had the opportunity of assisting and interacting with intellectuals, helping them locate relevant information at the right time from the ocean of books and journals available at our library.
Back then, we had no computers or online facilities. Everything was manual. We maintained records on card catalogues and registers. We used to prepare card catalogues by typing the entries on the cards.
Back then, we had no computers or online facilities. Everything was manual
What is your most unforgettable experience?
I had the opportunity to answer a reference query from CV Raman. I remember very well that I helped him locate a few articles from the Physical Review and Physical Review Letters journals. Now I feel if I had a smartphone, I would have taken selfies with CV Raman!
Could you share with us some of your significant contributions?
I have worked on and headed several major library projects which include a reclassification project (converting all the documents in the library from colon classification system to decimal classification system), cataloguing the periodicals collection, establishing and organising the Compact Storage Area.
As Assistant Librarian and Deputy Librarian, I was in charge of all sections of the library, including reference section, book acquisition section, periodicals section, circulation section, and document delivery services.
And once, I gave a talk on the brief history of IISc in Kannada, which was broadcast on All India Radio, Bangalore.
How has IISc helped shape your career?
I improved my qualification from Diploma in library science to PhD in library science. I had the opportunity to go to the United Kingdom under the British Council Scholarship Technical Cooperation Training (TCTP) Programme at the University of Sheffield in 1991-92. I could achieve all this because of the support and encouragement from the Institute throughout my career.
I had the opportunity to go to the United Kingdom under the British Council Scholarship Technical Cooperation Training Programme (TCTP) at the University of Sheffield in 1991-92
What was your PhD work on?
I did my PhD at Bangalore University. My research was to identify obsolescence in a library collection based on usage patterns. As a part of my research study, “Analysis of Obsolescence in Academic Library Collection: A case study of JRD Tata Memorial Library”, I did a series of surveys and analysed them.
The result of the study gave us valuable inputs for decision-making processes in the library, such as space saving and how to efficiently utilise library space to boost the image of the library, while also making way for incoming materials. The results served as an input to the Library Committee Decisions in handling obsolete materials and also served as an MIS (Management Information System) tool in handling and weeding out of obsolete materials. This study served as a useful tool to achieve an overall improvement in the academic library collections and services.
What is your association with the Archives and Publications Cell?
Soon after my retirement in 2007, Prof Balaram, the then Director, appointed me to the Archives Cell to establish the Archives Cell Library and to organise archival documents. I worked in this Cell for a year. During this period, I had started working on the Timeline of IISc project, which involved recording important events and milestones of IISc.
In 2008, I was offered the position of Chief Librarian in an engineering college. In October 2017, I joined IISc to continue working on the Timeline project. Now I can say that I am celebrating 50 years of my association with the Institute.
How has IISc changed over the years?
In those days, the Institute was filled with more staff members: we had more than 2,500 employees at that time. Employees’ associations were very active in a few serious meetings.
Now I can say that I am celebrating 50 years of my association with the Institute
Now I see a drop in regular staff, and the campus looks empty compared to those days. This is perhaps due to the shifting of the aerospace, physics and biological sciences departments to the other part of the campus; the movement of staff or students towards this area [around IISc’s main building] has become less.
The library used to be filled with many students those days, the library looks empty now. I find the campus very calm and quiet.
Kavitha Harish works at the Archives and Publications Cell