IITB library grapples with staff shortage, limited space
The library at IIT Bombay, despite being ranked number one, is struggling with staff shortage and limited space, according to a report in the institute's student magazine. The library has faced challenges in meeting students' demands due to retirements and lack of replacements, with students calling for extended hours, more resources, and improved facilities. Professor S. Shankaranarayanan, convener of the library committee, highlighted the need for expansion and proposed doubling the capacity within 6-12 months after renovation work is completed.
Mumbai: Despite the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Bombay securing the coveted number one spot in the recent QS rankings, the institute’s library, a pivotal component of the campus for over six decades, is grappling with staff shortage and limited space. The issue was highlighted in a recent report in Insight, the institute’s student’s magazine.
Insight delved into the surge in student complaints on numerous grievances like staff shortage, timings, seating capacity, overcrowding and access to essential resources like the Bloomberg Terminal within the Central Library. It showed that shortage of library staff comprised a significant hurdle – with over 20 retirements in the past 5 years and no replacements, the staff of 39 was facing steep challenges in meeting students’ demands. Students have been demanded extended hours, particularly during exam periods, as well as more reference and non-STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) books like literature, magazines, and online subscriptions.
Insight’s survey among students revealed that more than 50% of respondents utilised the library 5-6 times a month and more than 80% appreciated its role as a conducive study environment. But they also raised concerns about air conditioning, power sockets, and washrooms, and demanded dedicated non-AC spaces, additional LAN ports, improved water facilities, streamlined construction processes, updated reference books, and introduction of a cafeteria.
Insight’s interview with professor S. Shankaranarayanan, the convener of the library committee, highlighted broader institutional challenges post-pandemic, indicating that understaffing was a widespread issue requiring systematic solutions. He said the current seating capacity of the library – it can accommodate 550 persons, with an additional 200 in the 24/7 reading hall – was insufficient for the growing student population. He also acknowledged the necessity for expansion, proposing a potential doubling of capacity within 6-12 months of completion of renovation work in the main building.
“We get only two months in a year for any construction work in the library building,” said Shankaranarayanan.