Dr Jaspal Kaur: A Multi-Dimensional Personality
A Journey from a Vocalist to a Shooter/Archer to a Librarian to a Principal of the College
Dr Jaspal Kaur is presently officiating Principal at Dev Samaj College for Women, Sector 45B, Chandigarh. She is also heading the library of the college. She has immensely contributed to growth and development of librarianship with her enthusiasm, self-motivation, dedication and un-ending commitment. She is a tall figure competing with younger generation to be with times and ahead of times related to various aspects of modern librarianship and technology developments. Recognizing her work, the SATKAL Foundation bestowed on her “National Woman Librarian” award in the year 2013.
She has to her credit 4 edited books and contributed over 30 papers in national and international conferences. She has a long association with Chandigarh Librarians’ Association (CLA), currently she is the General Secretary of CLA and also President of COLNI, a representative body of library associations of North India.
Dr Jaspal Kaur has the hunger to do more learning and seeks to empower her colleagues and tries to let them bring out their best for the growth and development of their respective libraries to serve the college community better with advanced technologies. Dr Jaspal Kaur proved to be role model for many women librarians in Chandigarh and other parts of North India. She has projected herself as a multi-dimensional personality – as an anchor, a singer, a sportsperson, a multi-tasker and a committed professional.
Dr Preeti Sharda: Please tell something about your background.
Dr Jaspal Kaur: I was born and brought up in an army family based at Patiala. I had my education from school to university in Chandigarh. I was interested in sports and music vocal. My interest in sports in the college and university gave me an opportunity to be recognised as National player in shooting and Archery.
Dr Preeti Sharda: During your student years, you were a Shooter and an Archer and you also participated in a number of sports events at the National Level, but you choose a career in Library Science? Why?
Dr Jaspal Kaur: I was keenly interested in following either Music, Sports and get into the army due to my involvement in NCC activities during my graduation. However my father’s advised me down to settle in life, so I had to choose librarianship, as he was of the view that this profession was good opportunity for the women.
Dr Preeti Sharda: Under your supervision, how the library of Dev Samaj College for Women (DSCW) has evolved?
Dr Jaspal Kaur: I did accept the challenge of setting up the library for Dev Samaj College for Women, Sector 45B, Chandigarh. The Library, which was housed in the basement, had to struggle in relocating its collection due to heavy rains and floods in 1995. During all these years, I have been looking for ways and means to improve organizing the library and providing library & information services to the college community.
During 2001, the college library received grant of Rs 2.0 lakhs from MPLADS for purchase of books and improving the collection development. Again, in 2003, with the efforts of dedication and commitment, the Library received Rs 2.5 lakhs exclusively for automation activities of the Library. With untiring efforts, the Library was reorganized and totally automated within a span of six months. Today, the College Library is the first one among the College Libraries in Chandigarh to barcode all its collection. With added facilities and modern technology, I have been quite active in organizing the Library related competitions for the benefit of college students and seminars for the benefit of fellow professionals and thus furthering the cause of Librarianship.
The College Library has been the first in the city to digitize its News Clippings and the college had the honor to host a UGC Sponsored National seminar on “Managing College Libraries in the Digital Environment: Opportunities and Challenges” on 03-04 August 2007 No college library in Chandigarh has so far organized a library seminar with UGC sponsorship.
I have launched various innovative services and programmes aimed at spreading book culture among the college community. To mention a few like, music therapy, career counselling and many of these were the first of their kind not only in the college but also among the city colleges.
Dr Preeti Sharda: You have set an example to officiate as principal of the college for more than a period of two years. Was this journey easy?
Dr Jaspal Kaur: It was not easy for me as a college librarian to officiate as a principal of one of the prestigious girls’ college – Dev Samaj College for Women – in Chandigarh. It was indeed a great challenge for me to understand nitty-gritty of college administration.
However, I am proud to say that I had done a lot with the support of the college management further development of the college to be at par with other colleges in the city, like starting of new courses, streamlining of college administration, organizing major events, which got attention and recognition of the university like Inter college Youth festival.
This made me more motivated and dedicated for overall development and strengthening of the college.
This gave me satisfaction that the library skills that I possess helped me to successfully managing the college as the officiating principal more than a year. I admit that the librarians can also be good administrators.
Dr Preeti Sharda: What changes you brought at Dev Samaj College for Women (DSCW) as the head of the institution?
Dr Jaspal Kaur: As officiating principal of the college and the librarian, I was actively involved in streamlining the following:
- Completion of new hostel building with modern amenities.
- Construction of new Administrative blocks which also houses new and spacious library.
- First private college library in Chandigarh to get RFID system.
- Strengthening of the staff working, regularly communicating with the parents of the students to monitor their academic progress.
- Created an environment in which all the academic staff contributed to the growth and development of the students that ensured increase in the pass percentage, participation in cultural and academic activities.
- Organized Zonal Youth Festival
Dr Preeti Sharda: Please tell us about your contributions towards Chandigarh Librarians’ Association (CLA).
Dr Jaspal Kaur: I have been closely associated with Chandigarh Librarians’ Association (CLA) since the beginning of my career and have served the Association in various positions. I was the President of the Association from 2001 to 2005. Presently, I am General Secretary of the Association.
Being a woman and with my committed responsibilities at home, I have been able to serve the professional body, like CLA for the last 20 years in various positions, for the growth and development of professional colleagues, especially the women professionals. Having associated with CLA as Secretary, President, and in various other capacities, I had proved to be a mentor to a number of young professionals, who turn up to me for professional advice.
Dr Preeti Sharda: You decided to do your Doctorate degree very late in career. Why so?
Dr Jaspal Kaur: Even at the age of 57, when other women librarians prefer to settle down in their lives and dedicate themselves to their respective families, I have the hunger to do more learning and seeks to empower her colleagues and tries to let them bring out their best for the growth and development of their respective libraries to serve the college community better with advanced technologies. Due to my personal and professional commitment I was not able to pursue may PhD earlier but when I got the opportunity I did it.
Dr Preeti Sharda: How you initiated the digital library of Dev Samaj Literature?
Dr Jaspal Kaur: I was asked by our college management to setup a library of Dev Samaj Society at its headquarters in Chandigarh. During the course of setting up of the library of the society, I had the opportunity to scan very valuable literature in the form of books, artifacts, out of print books, manuscripts etc.
During the discussions with the management while setting up the library it was decided to make this valuable literature available to the outside world as this wealth of information could be accessible. Towards this end, we digitized all the literature of Dev Samaj and was uploaded on its website so that anyone can access this valuable information of Dev Samaj without any cost.
Dr Preeti Sharda: Please brief about how you relate to the NGO, Sadhna Society.
Dr Jaspal Kaur: As I am passionate about serving the people and I always wanted to help the people specially the special children. What moved me to associate with the Sadhna Sadan Society was my experience with my best friend’s daughter who is a special child and the time, commitment, dedication, affection that my friend showed for her daughter was quite touching for me. Once I volunteered during their sports meets, functions and I decided to serve special children.
Dr Preeti Sharda: Foundation of such a great career requires a genuine mentor. Provide a brief introduction of some of your mentors?
Dr Jaspal Kaur: During the beginning of my career as librarian, I wanted to do different things in the library. I attended one of the events organized by Chandigarh Librarians Association and I was so impressed and motivated by the activities that Chandigarh Librarians Association was promoting the libraries and library profession at that point of time and I enthusiastically joined as member of CLA. I had the privileged and opportunity to discuss the issues related to the profession and status of the College libraries in Chandigarh with Mr. I B Verma who was then General Secretary of CLA. Campaigning on reading habits by CLA and in particular, the leadership of Mr. I B Verma provided me an opportunity to experience and exposure on promoting the libraries in the city. This further helped me to grow professionally and to take up issues related to librarians respective to their pay scales and status. Mr. I B Verma helped me to grow independently and professionally as a librarian
I also give credit to Dr. P. V. Rao who was Chandigarh Libraries Consortium coordinator for his support for technological initiatives in my library. With his help, I was able to develop an automated library and modernise my college library.
The trust of my college management particularly the chairman of the college Sh Nirmal Singh Dhillon and Secretary of the college Dr. Agnese Dhillon, made me more committed, dedicated to continue to give my best. It helped me to go up to the position of Officiating Principal of the college. I always value the learning from them, which ultimately helped me as a person.
I will always be grateful to Professor Jagtar Singh, Head, DLIS, Panjabi Univeristy for his support and kindness. It would be impossible to count all the ways that he has helped me in my career. He has been always a good mentor and guides me on the right path.
Dr Preeti Sharda: If you had a single piece of advice for an academic librarian, what would you say?
Dr Jaspal Kaur: As a woman librarian, I had often observed that most of the girls who join this profession are very brilliant and can do wonders for the growth and development of the profession. Unfortunately, due to various reasons their capacities remained hidden. Therefore, my advice to all the woman librarian would be to keep doing their best for the profession and don’t stop under any circumstances to grow personally and professionally I would further advise them to think positive and grab every opportunity that come on their way.
Dr Preeti Sharda: Your final thoughts…..
Dr Jaspal Kaur: The librarianship provides best opportunities for the woman in a number of ways like stability, personality development, knowledgeable person and education.
(Thank you Dr Jaspal Kaur for sparing time for the interview. You have done great things on both fronts i.e. a College Librarian and a Head of the Institution. A big salute for all your efforts. All the best for your future endeavors.)