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Library loans go digital

Thammasat University has become the first educational institute in the Kingdom to go online

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The literary world is steadily going digital. The mammoth task of converting library archives into a digital format is also underway at libraries around the world. 

Electronic library

To celebrate the 80th anniversary of Thammasat University in June, each of the libraries on the four Thammasat campuses have introduced digital library services, meaning that as well as the millions of print books on site, there are also many e-books now available to borrow.

Thammasat University students, lecturers, researchers and partnering universities are also allowed to reserve books and read content, reference books, theses, journals and articles available at the university's libraries via library.tu.ac.th, making Thammasat's the first digital library in Thailand.

According to Srichan Chancheewa, the director of Thammasat University libraries, the objective is to make the service accessible for many, at a low cost.

Return dates for electronic and print books are similar. In the case of e-books, the system automatically terminates access to the service 15 days after a book is borrowed. There are hundreds of thousands of e-books available and users are authorised based on their IP addresses. The service is valid for students and staff from Thammasat University and those from partnering universities such as Kasetsart University and Chiang Mai University.

Thammasat University Press, which is responsible for producing academic books for the university, has joined forces with Book Promotion & Service Company Limited which specialises in creating e-book resources for greater efficiency and effectiveness in studying and teaching. The e-book database has no restrictions on the number of users and the service is available at all times. The e-books are available as part of a free-of-charge academic service. All originals were provided by the Thammasat University Archives and commercial e-books are due to be produced later on for use in classes.

Thammasat digital libraries are equipped with the latest information technology innovations including the Koha open-source integrated library system which covers item search, Online Public Access Catalogue (Opac), circulation, acquisition, cataloguing, serials, reserves and branch management. Users at the Thammasat University libraries can also access print books on the shelves through the radio frequency identification (RFID) system.

"Thammasat libraries are the first in Thailand and in Asean to have adopted the Koha system, which is used by most of the world's leading libraries," said Srichan, who was recently appointed the chairperson of OCLC Asia Pacific Regional Council.

Thammasat University is also a member of the OCLC WorldShare Interlibrary loan network (ILL) which connects over 70,000 libraries worldwide and provides quick and accurate results to help users obtain useful information from globally located sources anywhere and anytime. This expands the libraries' service coverage and accessibility from a local to a global level.

As a member, Srichan says, users can effectively create and share resources, both electronic and print versions, with thousands of libraries all over the world.

As the leading library of OCLC Worldshare ILL in the country, Thammasat University will run a workshop with Kasetsart University and Chiang Mai University to give users access to an enormous collection of its library resources and find a comprehensive collection of training and documentation resources.

To oversee the whole process of how students write their theses, the university has applied a MyCat plagiarism detection tool.

At present, Thammarat library users can renew or request books only via internet browsers, but soon they will be able to do this via a mobile application.

Thitipong Limpongsarak, head of Library Automation Division, said that the library is now developing the mobile app which will allow users to be able to apply for many kinds of books and media that is available in the libraries, including audio and visual media.

A video-on-demand service is now in the process of testing and in the future users will be able to access it over the internet.

"We are a digital library," said Srichan, "but we have much more content that will be offering in the future."

Thammasat University digital library.

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