An Affable Persona: Catching Up With D.P. Tripathi
Having a benevolent and vibrant personality, D.P. Tripathi, Assistant Registrar (UG) and Assistant Librarian, NIT, Rourkela, is one of the most endearing and compassionate figures on the campus. Amid the ongoing global pandemic, he’s conducting various virtual workshops and webinars on subjects related to library science. Born and raised in a small village of Uttar Pradesh, he’s had a journey full of ups & downs and beat hardships with his hard work and dedication. Below are excerpts from an insightful interview through e-mail where he let team Monday Morning peak through the window of his simple yet exciting life.
Monday Morning (MM): Give us a glimpse of your childhood days and walk us through your student life.
D.P. Tripathi (DPT): I hail from a small village called “Pachokhar” in Ghazipur district, Uttar Pradesh. I did my schooling from there itself. Despite lacking enough resources, I worked hard. I was fortunate enough to get admission into Banaras Hindu University, Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh for my further studies. I accomplished B.A. (Hons.), M.A. (Economics), Bachelor of Library & Information Science, and Master of Library & Information Science from there. I developed a great interest in computers while exploring that led me to the completion of 2 years of “Honors Diploma in Information and System Management” from Aptech Limited in 1999 while studying at BHU.
MM: You chose quite an unconventional career path. How did you develop an interest in this field and at what point in your life were you sure about building a career in it?
DPT: I never thought of becoming a library professional as I hold a Master’s degree in Economics, and was interested in building my career in this subject. This profession happened to me due to sudden circumstances and not by choice. The situation that compelled me to proceed towards enrollment in BLISc in 2000 was the sad demise of my father while I was pursuing my Master’s at BHU. My financial condition was not so sound to continue Economics as the base subject. Since I had an interest in computers and also held a diploma in it, I decided to opt for this profession to start earning at the earliest.
A new chapter started in my life soon after completing MLISc when I joined Kendriya Vidyalaya Sangathan, New Delhi as a librarian on September 11, 2003. I served there until August 30, 2013. While working at KVS, I grabbed an opportunity to work as a Senior Library Information Assistant at IIT Kanpur on lien for two years (2007-2009). In the eagerness to step up, I qualified UGC-NET in June 2008, which enabled me to apply for higher positions. After some years, I joined National Institute of Technology, Rourkela as Assistant Librarian on September 02, 2013. I was a little sceptical and was not very interested in my profession in the beginning, but I gradually started falling in love with it, and I have no regrets today that I am a person who lives around books.
MM: You cleared UGC-NET and pursued Masters at BHU. How was your experience there at BHU?
DPT: Getting admission into Banaras Hindu University, which is one of the best universities across the world, was like a dream come true for me. My journey at BHU began in 1995 when I enrolled in B.A. (Hons). It allowed me to continue education with people from different parts of the country. My experience at BHU was filled with a blend of emotions, and it’s tough for me to define it in words. I feel so blessed to have earned great friends there for a lifetime who stood beside me in every situation and have been supporting me emotionally, financially, and mentally throughout my life, to date. They helped me at every step in life, whether it was applying for a job or booking tickets to attend an interview in New Delhi. They embraced me and had my back during the hardest of the time. They have played a very significant role in making me the person that I am today. They will always have a very special place in my heart and my life especially, Mr Rohit Jaiswal, Mr Vinay Thakur, Mr Neeraj Choudhary, and Mr Pradip Kumar.
MM: Keeping aside your academic and professional career for a while, how would you describe yourself as a person?
DPT: My emotions drive my life. I always remind myself to be kind and compassionate to others. I believe that karma defines our lives. We should try to do good deeds. I am a very emotional person, and I always wish the best for everyone. Being a man with a family, I always try to fulfil all my responsibilities. Not only in my personal life, but I take my responsibilities very earnestly in every aspect of my life.
I have had many ups and downs in my life, and there might be many in the future as well, but I have always been an optimistic person. I feel that smiling and focusing on making the present better is the best way to welcome the future.
MM: You have worked in NIT Rourkela as Assistant Librarian for over six years now, and you are also the Assistant Registrar (UG) presently. How did NIT Rourkela happen to you, and how has your experience been here?
DPT: Six years of working experience as an Assistant Librarian at Biju Patnaik Central Library have been fantastic for me. I have always tried to give my best for the betterment of the library. I have always had scope to interact with the students and faculty through liaison programs, by conducting user awareness programs and also by personally communicating with them.
While working at BPCL, I got very fortunate in 2016 to have been selected for the prestigious “Commonwealth Professional Fellowship” at the University of East London. NIT Rourkela always supported me to impart training to library professionals nationwide and also provided me with opportunities to attend international conferences in Singapore (2014), Thailand (2018), and Malaysia (2019).
Getting the opportunity to work as Asst. Registrar added another feather in my cap. It was the demand of the hour, and I am very thankful to the higher authorities for believing in me and giving me this chance. When I was asked for my consent, I found it very exciting to serve the students and faculty again, and hence I accepted it happily. The journey in the academic unit has been very refreshing and fruitful for me. I will always try to be proficient enough to serve the institute.
MM: You are known to be very student-friendly and considerate, is it something that comes naturally to you, or was it a conscious effort after taking the post of Assistant Registrar?
DPT: Being friendly has always been my nature since childhood. Being considerate and kind makes me feel happy and content in life. As I have mentioned earlier that I worked around students during my service in KVS for a very long time, now I find it very ecstatic to work for students and help them enthusiastically.
MM: What according to you could be the best possible way/medium in any educational institution in which a student can get his/her academic queries or issues resolved in a fair and hassle-free manner?
DPT: My humble suggestion in this regard is that students must first complete their degree on time. I have noticed many students taking less interest in studies and as a result of which, they get grade backs or even year-back sometimes. Due to this, they find it quite challenging to complete the courses, and this complicates their cases. They have to enquire about numerous things because of this and have to visit offices unnecessarily. If one completes the degree on time except for exceptional cases, then all the things are already taken care of by the institute. Every institute runs with some policies so that nobody has to make any extra efforts for getting their queries or issues resolved. These should be followed properly. For normal queries/ issues, a student should always route the matter through a proper channel which will help them to get their work easily done.
MM: Automation plays a vital role in academic libraries as it is an essential aspect for them to serve their community in a well-organized manner. What challenges did BPCL face in achieving it, and how did it overcome those?
DPT: Yes, library automation is very important for libraries as it enables its staff to serve the community with ease and efficiency, producing better output. When I joined NIT Rourkela, BPCL had already been automated with commercial software, i.e. LibSys with RFID. However, it is not in good shape in terms of infrastructure, resources, services, and organization of available resources.
In 2014, the library was equipped with four Assistant Librarians, one Deputy Librarian, and four Technical Assistants. The entire staff worked very dedicatedly and tried to shape things in a better way. I am proud that at present, our library is considered as one of the best libraries in India when it comes to the use of library technologies and open source.
MM: Libraries are no more just a place where books are stored; they have evolved into a place for study, collaboration, interaction, and connecting people & ideas. They also have to compete with the extensive availability of information online. What is your take on how much we have achieved in transforming BPCL into a next-generation library?
DPT: BPCL has been using almost every known technology that is being used in India. We are able to efficiently control the flow of information and ensure maximum dissemination of information to the right users at the right time.
However, BPCL still needs changes in infrastructure such as the latest computers for students to use, sound internet connectivity in the library for better access of resources, I.T. equipped reading spaces for research scholars and skilled staff members to carry out routine work.
MM: Cloud Computing has fundamentally changed the way organizations approach I.T. The world is changing, and libraries are also changing with it to reflect the digitally-focused world they serve. Talking in context to academic libraries, how can Cloud Computing enhance library services?
DPT: BPCL does not require cloud services as we have our servers which host our library automation package for Online Public Access Catalogue (opac.nitrkl.ac.in), Institutional Repository (dspace.nitrkl.ac.in), Theses Repository, Odia Book Collection, E-Resources, and Library Website. All these services are functional in our server available at the data centre with public I.P., which connects BPCL to the outer world. BPCL has also configured LDAP with a library automation package which enables the students and faculty to use their institute e-mail to keep track of their library activities.
MM: How important do you feel it is to keep learning about new technologies at this stage of your career?
DPT: Skill development has always been my target, whether it’s related to my job or my hobbies, such as playing the flute. Living in the 21st century, all of us need to learn about new technologies. There’s a saying that learning has no relation with age or any stage.
I have a keen interest in computers. I find it very exciting to learn about new things and then reflect it in my work and day-to-day life with perfection. I have developed my website, i.e. www.dptripathi.com and also Moodle platform, i.e. www.libguide.in, to share the gained knowledge with other library professionals and colleagues. Being able to expand my knowledge in my field gives me self-satisfaction. Learning new things also helps me to guide and help library users in accessing any required information.
MM: You co-authored the book “Towards A Digital India” with Rishi Tiwari. Please shed some light on the subject of the book and tell us about your inspiration behind the book.
DPT: I have been given several opportunities to work in the digital environment since I started working for different organizations. I have worked on Library Automation since 2005, extending my service at KVS, IIT Kanpur, and was involved in library automation up-gradation at BPCL too.
Library automation is one of the technical areas where all kinds of libraries are still facing problems. At first, I also struggled to learn library automation, but gradually I was able to learn a few software. After that, I started training professionals through workshops, training programs, and virtual workshops. I attended more than 15 workshops as a resource person, not only in India but also in the neighbouring countries like Nepal and Bhutan.
My intention to help more library professionals on this subject and my interaction with other professionals encouraged me to compile my experience, as a result of which the book got published. I co-authored it with Shri Rishi Tiwari. I felt immense pleasure to know the feedback that the book had helped many professionals. Now, I am working on my next book, “Research Data Management”.
MM: You’re keen on playing the flute and possess a large collection of flutes. Shed some light on this unconventional hobby of yours. What are your other favourite pastimes, and how do you manage them with work?
DPT: I earnestly believe that skill development is very necessary, and it has always been one of my targets. It always helps in your personal and professional life. For example, I had mentioned earlier that I developed typing skills when I was in 10th grade, and now I find it very useful in day to day work.
Playing the flute is an outcome of finding an alternative for meditation. I think the flute is a very powerful instrument with a soothing sound that helps the mind to relax.
I always try to find some time for my hobbies after my routine work in the office. Painting, listening to songs, writing poems, and reading books are my hobbies in addition to playing the flute.
Giving one hour every day to my interests relaxes me and rejuvenates me with energy to work more efficiently. I also encourage my friends and colleagues to find some time from their office life and give it to themselves. It will help them handle stress and will keep them calm and cool. I have tried this, and it works well for me.
MM: You run a YouTube channel named “Librarian Guide”. You also conduct various webinars and online sessions for librarians. What encouraged you to this?
DPT: I have always wanted a platform for myself to share my experience and knowledge that I have earned in the past 17 years, and I found YouTube as a suitable platform. It is easy to preserve the contents, and these can be accessed easily by others whenever required by just one click.
As a library professional, I have faced many problems in my career. So, I decided to take it as my vision to help other professionals so that they don’t face the same obstacles. It’s my pleasure that my channel “Librarian Guide” can help and guide others.
MM: You are conducting a series of webinars in this lockdown period. What inspired you for this in these testing times?
DPT: I have been conducting virtual workshops regularly, even before lockdown. Lockdown has created an opportunity for everyone to have more time to interact and share information and knowledge. I started a series of webinars on the most relevant issues related to library science at the request of professional friends. Everyone is stressed about the situations that have arisen in the outside world. My step of increasing and starting a new webinar series was an arrow aiming two targets simultaneously: to interact with and involve people for distracting them and also to impart knowledge.
MM: What potential changes do you see in libraries in the post-COVID 19 period?
DPT: The whole world is going to face many challenges in the post-COVID 19 period, including the libraries, as you mentioned. I think the major issues that shall rise in that period are the following:
- Well-being of library staff and students.
- Social distancing inside the library premises.
- Regular sanitization of books, tables, and reading rooms.
- Engaging the readers in learning
- Awareness program about library
Libraries at this stage need to think critically and follow the SOPs strictly to maintain the library services and provide resources to its users.
MM: What would be your final message to our readers?
Due to the advent of technology, we all are possessed by smartphones and laptops and are using them to access and browse resources. As a library professional, I would request all to spend time reading physical books too. I do not oppose e-books, but in my opinion, physical books give a different and classic feeling. You can feel your progress through it, which also enhances patience and concentration. You have come here with one purpose, i.e., study. Spend maximum time in studying and utilize the services & resources of the library and make maximum use of them for your better future. Your parents and well-wishers have a lot of expectations from you, just try to fulfil them and flourish in your life always.
Team MM wishes him all the very best for all his future endeavours.