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Code Number: 072-112-G
Division Number: I.
Professional Group: Library and Research Services for Parliaments
Joint meeting with: -
Meeting Number: 112
Simultaneous interpretation: No

Construction of the Indian parliamentary library

The library as a source of knowledge and documentation center in the age of information technology

JOHN JOSEPH

Lok Sabha Secretariat, Parliament House
New Delhi, India

Summary:

This brief overview describes the structure of the library of the Indian Parliament and its function as a source of information for the members of parliament. The various categories of library holdings are named. Particular attention is paid to the extensive, internally created databases. In this context, it is described how data is recorded, processed, stored, accessed and forwarded using modern information technology. Finally, the existing IT connections with other government agencies / organizations for the exchange of data and the library's Internet homepage are discussed.

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India is a parliamentary democracy. As in any democracy, the representatives of the people must be provided with objective facts and up-to-date data so that they can verify that the government is responsibly performing the tasks assigned to it. For this reason, a parliament must have information sources and information management systems that are not under the control of the executive. The library, as well as the reference, research, documentation and information service of the Indian Parliament, better known by the acronym 'LARRDIS', are an ample source of information for MPs.

The Parliamentary Library was established in 1921, well before India's independence, when the country still had a Governor General and was under British administration. Only after independence in 1947 did the library gain in size and importance, which was due, among other things, to the growing need for information of the now parliamentary system of government. During the fundamental restructuring in 1974, the library not only gained in importance, but also received its new name: LARRDIS. It still bears this name today.

From the outset, efforts have focused on information gathering and management. An important part of LARDIS is the parliamentary library, which has a collection of around one million works, including books, debates by the Indian parliament, the Indian state parliaments and some foreign parliaments, reports from the Indian central and state governments, the United Nations and its bodies , Legal gazettes of the Indian central and state governments as well as other documents such as magazines and publications published by the offices of the Indian upper and lower houses. The vast majority of the works are written in English. As India is a multilingual country, the library naturally also has a large number of books and other publications in Hindi and a large number of other national languages. However, other languages ​​are hardly represented.

Not so long ago, libraries had only the task of collecting books, handing out works to visitors on request, and providing information in response to simple inquiries. In the meantime, the requirements have grown. In the meantime, the execution of government business requires such a diverse and extensive level of knowledge that no representative is able to obtain all this background information on his own. For this reason, a well-stocked library as well as an efficient research and reference service had to be made available at all times for the members of parliament. The considerable advances in the scientific and technological field in recent years have led to a fundamental change in human goals. This applies in particular to the area of ​​information management. Today we live in an information society and there is no doubt that well-informed voters and parliaments are extremely important for a well-functioning democracy.

Technological progress soon found its way into the Indian parliamentary library. Modest but persistent efforts have now been made to use the technological innovations for the benefit of MPs.

In the mid-1980s, it was decided to keep pace with advances in information management. With the support of the National Informatics Center (NIC), the state center for data technology, an IT center for the administration of PARLIS, the information system of the parliamentary library, was set up in December 1985. The automation process that was started here has continued to this day. In a period of 15 years, apart from LARRDIS, almost the entire office of the House of Commons was automated. The required software has always been developed in-house in cooperation with the NIC and Computer Maintenance Corporation (CMC) Ltd., another state-owned computer maintenance company.

Perhaps it should be mentioned that the modernization of the office was received very positively, as it made work considerably easier for the MPs. The automation of the office and its sub-departments for inquiries, committees, reporting, services for members of parliament, general administration, budget and payment issues, personnel issues, salaries and bookkeeping, etc., as well as LARRDIS also took into account the considerable information needs of MEPs. In the meantime, two physically separate but networked computer centers have been put into operation. These centers are located in the parliament building or the annex building.

Databases

Particular emphasis was placed on having its own database, as objective, non-partisan information is indispensable for members of parliament. So far, the following information is available online:
  • The Parliament at a glance
  • Meeting minutes (lists of important meeting minutes for the period 1985 to 1993; retrieval by name and keyword, filtering by year possible)
  • Selected questions (from 1985; generation of lists by entering the name of the representative, subject (keyword) or date)
  • Text of the Constitution and debates of the Legislative Assembly (list of members and full minutes of the meeting)
  • Bills (list of bills - government and parliamentary motions - retrieval by name of delegate, keyword, number of bill or amendment, etc., from 1985)
  • Procedure [rules of procedure and exercise of office in the upper and lower houses, resolutions / statements / instructions from the chairman (lists available, also text of instructions from 1952; retrieval via instruction serial number or key word)]
  • Ministers and MPs
  • Council of Ministers (name and portfolio of the individual ministers since 1947)
  • Short list of members of parliament (names and affiliations since constituent assembly)
  • Life data of the MPs (from IX. To XIII. Lok Sabha (lower house) and Rajya Sabha (upper house), from 1986; statistical breakdown according to age, gender, education, occupation, party affiliation, political experience and socio-economic background of the lower house members, from 1952)
  • Obituaries (in the Upper and Lower Houses, since 1921)
  • elections
  • Presidential and Vice-Presidential Elections (details of all elections that have taken place since 1952)
  • By-elections for the House of Commons (from 1952)
  • The President as Head of the States / Union Territories (from 1957)
  • LARRDIS
  • Library directory (new additions to books / reports since 1992; search for author, title, classification number, keyword, keyword in title or context) [A program for entering the entries before 1992 is currently being worked on and should be completed shortly].
  • Ongoing series (new additions to newspapers / magazines since 1989; search for title, catchphrase, keywords); Parliamentary Documentation (This table of contents database serves as an entry point to search for books, reports and articles from 1989 onwards, retrieved by specifying the period, key word and country).
  • Newspaper clippings (around 600 new newspaper clippings daily on a wide variety of topics for online scanning, research using many different parameters possible)
  • Administrative functions such as data acquisition and processing as well as lending and returning are now handled by the LIBSYS software. Members have access to the parliamentary library catalog via the terminals installed in the library. Directories of important newspaper and magazine articles as well as publications by national and international organizations can also be accessed at the terminals. Subject bibliographies and selected lists of publications on various subject areas are also available to members on request. The electronic recording of other areas is planned, such as documents presented in parliament; the salaries of the MPs; rare collections in parliament museum and archives, and television broadcasts of parliamentary sessions.

Computers for the MPs

As MPs need information quickly to hand, it has been found necessary to provide a computer for each MP at home / office. All members of parliament now have their own laptop or desktop computer with all the necessary accessories, such as a printer and data / fax modem card, as well as free internet access and an email connection.

From the State Center for Data Technology (NIC) and Computer Maintenance Corporation (CMC) Ltd. User-friendly, menu-driven software for Windows has been developed to help MEPs deal with the following tasks:

  • Management of constituencies: population and electoral statistics
  • Personal information system: program module for correspondence and complaints; Work in the local districts and lists of beneficiaries
  • Office automation: multilingual word processing; Email access for sending messages to counterparts, clerks, ministers and their offices, etc .; Fax machine, voicebox, telephone directory; Preparation of speeches, list of important personalities (Who's Who); Scheduling, etc.
  • Information system of the parliamentary library (PARLIS) For online services such as email and access to the parliamentary database as well as databases of the Indian and foreign governments, a central computer was installed in the parliament building, which via a micro-earth station (VSAT) and dedicated lines with the satellite-supported NIC Network (NICNET) is connected. In this way, all Members of Parliament have access to the information and databases available in the Computer Center (in the Parliamentary Library) from their own home / office computer.

Network connection

As already mentioned, PARLIS, the information system of the parliamentary library, is connected to the satellite-based NIC network (NICNET), which in turn is connected to the 32 states and union territories as well as the main offices of the approximately 600 electoral districts of India. This networking enables time-saving information acquisition. Incidentally, we are currently in the planning phase for the development of a national online network, which will connect the databases of the parliamentary library under PARLIS to the databases of the Indian states.

Homepage of the Indian Parliament

The Indian Parliament has had its own homepage since March 1996, which could previously be accessed via the website http://alfa.nic.in. In the meantime, the more accessible address http://parliamentofindia.nic.in has been chosen.

The homepage contains a large amount of information, including the text of the Indian Constitution, the debates of the Constituent Assembly, selected speeches by the Indian President, the rules of procedure, directives and resolutions of the chairman, bills and state policy, life data of the MPs, current debates in upper - and House of Commons, Debate Directories, etc. (some of the information is only available for certain years).

Microfilms

In 1987 a department for microfilms was set up, in which documents can be stored in a space-saving and long-term manner. In the meantime we were not idle. The following documents, among others, can now be accessed on the computer: debates of the Legislative Council and Central Legislative Council (institutions from the time before independence, when India was still under British administration), debates in the constituent assembly and superiors - and House of Commons and their registers, reports from various parliamentary committees and the Indian parliamentary group, documents brought before parliament, rare books, Indian government bills, the Indian constitution and the Journal of Parliamentary Information.

Research service

LARRDIS also offers a research service exclusively for members of parliament. Thanks to the achievements of modern information technology, parliamentarians' inquiries can now be answered more quickly and better, especially on issues that are up for debate in parliament.

Final summary

As a result, MEPs now have a wider choice of services. These advances in information technology have also accelerated the processes known in the past. Nowadays, more detailed information can be obtained in less time and brief information and notes can be compiled in advance. The introduction of information technology has consequently led to an improvement in the quality and content of the services available to MEPs for their research.