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RTI Act and Library Professionals - A Study

Assistant Librarian and Information officer,
Anna centenary Library, Chennai-25

We all know about Right to Information Act, which had been enacted by the UPA government in the year 2005 in India. As Information Professional, are we aware of opportunities hiding for us in the implementation of the RTI Act. Do we aware of the post called Public Information Officers (PIOs) mentioned under RTI Act?

Article 4 (1) of the RTI Act goes like this, “Every public authority shall— maintainall its records duly catalogued and indexed in a manner and the form whichfacilitates the right to information under this Act and ensure that all records thatare appropriate to be computerised are, within a reasonable time and subject toavailability of resources, computerised and connected through a network all over the country on different systems so that access to such records is facilitated;” and

Article 4 (2) gives details about the list things to be indexed and classified.

Appointment of PIOs and Library and Information Professionals

According to Article 5. (1) of RTI Act Every public authority shall, within one hundred days of the enactment of this Act, designate as many officers as the Central Public Information Officers or State Public Information Officers, as the case may be, in all administrative units or offices under it as may be necessary to provide information to persons requesting for the information under this Act.

Merits - Our side

  • Except Central and State Chief Information Commissioners, the act didn’t mention any direct qualifications for the post of Public Information Officers. As mentioned earlier,
  • Article 4 (1) clearly describes the duties of a Public Information Officer; we can observe that they are the duties of a Library and Information Professional. Still today there is a big argument is going on about the appointment of PIOs. In June 2009 a study was conducted by PricewaterhouseCoopers under the title “Constraints in implementing the RTI Act. “ One of its findings says, “more than 38% of PIOs stated ineffective record management system and 43% of the PIOs were not aware of the record management guidelines” Being loaded with their regular responsibilities the present PIOs can’t fulfill the people’s information requirements effectively, so we should make the government to understand that we onlycan serve as the real PIOs.

What is our responsibility?

  • Further research about RTI Act and scope for Library and Information Professionals should be encouraged.
  • Representations should be made to the State and Central Governments.
  • Special papers about RTI Act should be introduced in the MLIS course.
  • Libraries should be made as access points for public information access.

Friends this is just a beginning for a developing country like ours for the facilitation of information
and its access to the masses. I hope it should reach the all the corners of the country and the scope of the Library and Information dissemination can be enhanced. Let us join together and fight for our rights.

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