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Effective Utilisation of MP-IDSA Library Resources

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  • May 26, 2023

    Mr. Mukesh Kumar Jha, Sr. Library Assistant and Dr. Vivek Dhankar, Technical Officer, GIS Section, Manohar Parrikar Institute for Defence Studies and Analyses (MP-IDSA), spoke on “Effective Utilisation of MP-IDSA Library Resources” on May 26, 2023. Maj. Gen. (Dr.) Bipin Bakshi (Retd.), the Deputy Director General of MP-IDSA and scholars of the Institute were in attendance.

    Executive Summary

    The library is a major source of information for research scholars. MP-IDSA has a rich collection of books and journals about different subject areas. In order to help MP-IDSA scholars in efficiently utilising the library, Mr. Jha and Dr. Dhankar gave presentations to familiarise scholars with the library resources. While giving a brief historical account of the library, Mr. Jha shed light on MP-IDSA’s collection of books and journals. Dr. Dhankar talked about the GIS section. He explained how maps are prepared at MP-IDSA and policies with regard to maps.

    Detailed Report

    Mr. Mukesh Kumar Jha began by explaining that the term library is based on the Latin word ‘liber’ which means document or book. Libraries have gone through a radical transformation from being made up of clay tablets to the digital era. Earlier it used to be like a storehouse, but with time its form kept changing. As the storehouse capacity is limited, the information got converted into digital format.  There are three types of libraries- academic, public and special. MP-IDSA’s library is a special library since it’s a research library and is focused on a particular subject area. We saw the advent of information society in the 1990’s. Our society is completely dependent on information now and we send and receive it in a digital format.

    There are three types of sources of information- primary, secondary and tertiary. The most important are the primary sources. The researcher community is the only community who is not only the consumer of information but also its generator. Information communication also has a drawback. It brought with itself information explosion. With information explosion, the recall value increased, but it resulted in a lack of precision. The library is the only place where information gets compiled, repackaged, and consolidated. The most important role of a library is to provide ‘right information to the right user at the right time.’

    MP-IDSA’s library is a fine library; it is air conditioned, and Wi-Fi enabled. It has more than 60,000 books other than monographs and reports. Its main focus is on military affairs, national security, strategic technologies, defence studies, etc. MP-IDSA’s library does generation and dissemination of information. It has diversified publications with more than 250 plus current journals subscription and 21,499 old volume journals. It is open to outsiders as well. MP-IDSA’s library is the only library in India now which provides indexing and abstracting services. Mr. Jha demonstrated how to use the digital library in an efficient way.   

    Dr. Vivek Dhankar began his presentation by saying that the Geographic Information System is a small section limited to one room in the library. It is a system comprising of a computer system and an expert which capture or collect, manage (editing & updating) and display (maps) geographically referenced information or data. GIS helps in bringing out or displaying the relationship, trends and pattern from the data. Therefore, maps are important in studies because they help us look at the patterns and visualise data in a new way. Maps are a powerful means of providing information. The GIS lab in MP-IDSA was set up in September 2009. Currently, it has five GIS licenses. Since 2009, 2514 customised maps have been prepared so far on the request of the scholars.

    All GIS maps are chargeable. There are two exceptions where the charges can be waived off. If the map is being prepared by an MP-IDSA’s scholar for MP-IDSA’s official work, then there would be no charges. If maps are for MP-IDSA’s scholars own work but are endorsed by the respective Centre Coordinator or from the DG, MP-IDSA, then the charges would be waived as well. The charges for a colour map are Rs. 750 and Rs. 1000 for a black and white map. For non-MP-IDSA members, charges are Rs. 2000 for a colour map and Rs. 2,500 for a black and white map. It is mandatory to get the map approved from the Director General or the Centre Coordinator. The form needs to be filled where one needs to mention if the map is for personal use or official purpose.

    Dr. Dhankar explained that there are two types of data in GIS- spatial data and non-spatial data. Any data which has geographical information like satellite images and coordinates related to it is called spatial data. The non spatial data is attribute data which describes the data. For instance, describing total population in a district is non spatial data whereas a district boundary is spatial data.

    In the GIS section, the data has been classified into political, economic, natural, social and cultural data. For instance, in political data, we have international boundaries, India’s administrative boundaries and province level boundaries. For economic data, we have rail network data and road infrastructure data, airports, seaports etc. We also have raster data which is picture form of data. For instance, we have topographical maps, gas pipelines, US Army topographic sheet of the South Asian region.

    He also brought attention to collecting data/information from open sources. If the MP-IDSA’s scholars are using maps from open sources, the Indian territorial integrity must be given attention. The maps from the online sources can also get checked and corrected at the GIS section.

    Comments and Questions

    Gp. Capt. R.K. Narang asked whether the MP-IDSA’s library has Government reports from Ministry of Defence. In response to his question, Mr. Jha said that since the Ministry of Defence compiled its documents on its own website, there is no need for us to recompile it in our library. Gp. Capt. Narang also asked Dr. Dhankar about the software used for GIS. Dr. Dhankar said that the software’s name is ArcGIS. It is developed by an American company called Esri. 99% organisations all over the world use ArcGIS since it is the most advanced. The next best alternative is QGIS which is free.

    Dr. Uttam Kumar Sinha asked how many new book recommendations we get per month. To which Mr. Jha replied that the library gets 5 to 10 new book recommendations every month. He further asked Dr. Dhankar what we can do about the resolution of the map getting distorted. Dr. Dhankar said that the resolution of the maps get distorted after being inserted into the word document, which is then sent for publication. We need to ensure that the size of the map does not get changed. It is often better to change the map independent of the text, so that it does not get squeezed or its resolution get lowered.

    Mr. Anit Kumar, Intern asked Dr. Dhankar that can QGIS maps be gotten by directly downloading them or does one need special knowledge to do it? Dr. Dhankar replied that they can be downloaded but one needs to have an idea of using GIS beforehand. One must have an idea how to create boundaries, how to add text on the map and how to create the layout. One needs to be aware of copyrights for using different data.

    The Report was prepared by Mr. Harshit Sharma, Intern, MP-IDSA.