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Public Libraries as a Foundation of Knowledge Economy

Public library is social institution and it is mainly concerned with the education, social and cultural activities of the people in the society. The public library is local gate way to knowledge provides basic conditions for lifelong learning, independent decision making and social economical and cultural development of individual and social groups.

UNESCO in its Public Library Manifesto has described public libraries as a democratic institution for the education culture and information. The Manifesto further states that the public library should be established under clear mandate of law it should be maintained wholly from the public funds and no direct charge should be made to any one for its services.

Features of Knowledge economy

The advances in information communication technology moved the society towards the knowledge society. The application of knowledge in education, entrepreneurship, innovation, and product design is now widely believed to be one of the key sources of growth of global economy.

Knowledge economy is one that creates, disseminates and uses knowledge to enhance its growth and competitiveness. Successful transition to a knowledge economy is founded on four essential pillars.

Four pillars of the Knowledge Economy

  1. An economic and institutional regime that provides incentives for the efficient creation, dissemination, and use of existing knowledge
  2. An educated and skilled population that can create and use knowledge.
  3. An efficient innovation system of firms, research centers, universities, consultants, and other organizations that can tap into the growing stock of global knowledge and assimilate and adapt it to local needs, as well as to create new knowledge
  4. Dynamic information infrastructure

Making effective use of knowledge in any country requires developing appropriate policies, institutions, and investments and coordination across these four pillars, because of their strong interdependencies that exist among them.

Missions of the Public Library

The public libraries having the following key missions related to information, literacy, education and culture should be the core of public libraries.

  1. Creating and strengthening reading habits in children from an early age
  2. Supporting both individual and self conducted education as well as formal education at all levels
  3. Providing opportunities for personal creative development
  4. Providing adequate information services to local enterprises, associations and interest groups.
  5. Facilitating the development of information literacy skills.

Services provided by Public Library

  • Inter library loan
  • Photocopying
  • Document delivery including electronic document delivery
  • Extension services for women, children, senior citizens and physically handicapped persons
  • Community information services
  • Online Public Access Catalogue
  • Electronic /AV resources, workstations and appropriate infrastructure for use and delivery
  • Training users in information literacy
  • Identify non users and promote the use of libraries among them and

Public Library as Community Knowledge centers

Public libraries are a living force for popular education, culture, information and development of the masses. They are the essential agents for fostering socio economic development. The public libraries translate information needs of masses into action. The advances in ICT have changed the pattern of acquisition and dissemination of information. The accessibility of the world wide information through internet and such other similar developments have not lonely changed the role of public libraries but also their shape and nomenclature. Hence buzz words 'Knowledge Centers" Information Kiosks and Information Kiosks and Community Information Centers and so on. Modern public libraries thus can't afford to restrict their scope of activity within four walls and wait for users to come, but have to go beyond, to reach the mass and act themselves as community knowledge centers.

Establishment of Knowledge centers (KIOSKS)

The role of Public library is being enunciated is based on life long learning and education. Education is the fundamental enabler of the knowledge economy; well educated and skilled people can create, share and disseminate the knowledge effectively.

The development of a knowledge economy requires a life long learning and education. As now we are getting the information in the digitized form and far more accessible through new technology, it is new role to public libraries, not only to provide access to t networked information, but to reach people how to get the most value from it and to discerning in the use of the information.

The choice of public libraries is not books or information technology. They must now supplement the printed word with huge resources available electronically. In doing so, Public libraries need to become trainers and learning centers enabling the public who come to them for information, to access the increasingly wide range of electronic information.

Keeping in view the importance of knowledge, it is proposed that the knowledge centers should be established in the public libraries and the centers of learning in each state. Knowledge centers will have cull out knowledge from a variety of sources including printed services such as news papers, books, journals, gray literature etc. Digital information sources such as CDs, Internet databases etc. and adopt research methodologies to collect information on the issues of particular interest of each knowledge center.


The library and information sector is committed to support the creation of a knowledge society by providing equitable, high quality, cost effective access to information and knowledge resources. The Public libraries plays a vital role in communicating the existed knowledge which provokes the creation of the new knowledge. The Public library gives their services to all irrespective of the age, sex, religion. The Public library strengthens the reading habits of public and helps in the self education of people. Hence the Public Library is foundation for Knowledge economy.

Jayalaxmi Reddy

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